Page 1


Created and produced by Becky Haskins Charles Rodriguez James Marshall Kieran James Nischal Gurung Sarah Harrison Yuxin Huang

International Style

Arts University Bournemouth Wallisdown, Poole Dorset, BH12 5HH United Kingdom For the Arts University Bournemouth BA (Hons) Graphic Design First Year First published in 2014 Š 2014 Arts University Bournemouth All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopy, recording or any other information storage and retrieval system, without prior permission in writing from the publisher. Printed and bound in England

Contents 6







Werbund & Bauhaus


Influence On Architecturial Design


Wainwright Building




Farnworth House




Influence On Product & Furniture Design


Barcelona Chair


Ulm Stool


Chronoscope Watch


Wassily Chair


LE1 Electrostatic Speaker


Influence On Graphic & Typography Design


Josef M端ller Brockman


Emil Ruder


Armin Hofmann


Akzidenz Grotesk


Univers & Helvetica


The Swiss Grid System



Introduction This book focuses on the art and design movement known as International Style. The movement spans from around the 1920’s to the 1960’s. It is considered part of the overall movement known as Modernism. Modernism began as a reaction to the traditional forms of design, art, music and literature which many believed were becoming outdated in a new economic, social and political environment of an emerging industrialised world. In the late 19th Century architects became increasingly dissatisfied with the decorative styling of buildings influenced by previous movements from Historicism. With the emerging industrialized society came a need for large numbers of office buildings and other commercial, residential and civic structures. The building’s function was now more important and the development of new building technologies centring on the use of steel, reinforced concrete and mass production allowed architects to design economical, and utilitarian architecture that would both use the new materials and satisfy society’s new building needs while


still appealing to aesthetic taste. Although predominantly related to architectural styles, International style significantly influenced areas of graphic design, typography and interior and product design. Key players of this movement include architects Le Corbusier (1887-1965) and Mies van der Rohe (1886- 1969), graphic designers Joseph Müller Brockman (1914-1996) and Max Bill (1908-1994) and furniture designers such as Marcel Breuer (1902-1981) and Dieter Rams (1932-). This book discusses the emergence and spread of International Style, places it in its cultural, social and political context whilst highlighting the work of the key players. It aims to explore the circumstances that initiated the start of the International style. Looking in detail at the effects of the movement on architectural styling. Whilst exploring the effects this movement had on interior/ furniture design. Lastly this book will explore the impact of International style on Graphic design and typography.

Joan Miró Designed by Emil Ruder (Swiss, 1914–1970) 1955 Poster 128 x 90.5 cm


Origins 9

Up left & right: Designed and built by Luigi Figini in 1933-1934. A programmatic summary of all the principles of modern architecture as dicated by Le Corbusier. Right: People walking on the street after World War 1.

As previously mentioned International style is considered a part of Modernism. This philosophical movement was a result of enormous socioeconomic and political change as well as significant advances in technology. Prior to Modernism, art and design was heavily influenced by historical approaches. This reapplication of historical approaches is referred to as Historicism. International Style presented a cultural rejection to Historicism. This acceptance of change resulted in new approaches towards art and design being shaped. Aesthetically Modernism generally challenged ideals surrounding form, this is particularly evident in movements such as Expressionism, a painting movement that was concerned with expressive forms. Essentially, the grandeur and decadence evident in late 19th century design was being replaced by a more simplistic visual language. International Style was not only interested in form, but greatly subscribed to the functionalist belief that function was of most importance.


Various socioeconomic and political factors played a significant role in the development of Modernism and International Style. Central to this was the aftermath of World War 1 (WWI). Europe was devastated. Rebuilding, both architecturally and economically was urgently required. This urgent need, juxtaposed with advancing technology, helped fuel the Modernist ideals. Designers embraced newer more efficient production methods. Changing political structures, as a result of the War, also had a significant impact on Modernism. This was particularly prevalent within Germany, which saw the abdication of their Keiser Willhelm II and the formation of the Weimer Republic. This political change was significant to the Bauhaus movement and ultimately the International Style as the Bauhaus were allowed to develop. Previously this was not possible due to heavy censorship.


Modernism embracing the changing times of the early 20th century, was also significant to its success, International Style celebrated new industry and advancing technology. This attitude was important because technology was on the populous conscience. The aftermath of World War 1 highlighted the importance of this attitude as embracing new technology was essential in order to aid a systemic recovery. The Werkbund which was founded in 1907,looked to embrace the technological advances of the era,by exploring the implementation of new industrial materials such as steel and concrete. The Werkbund championed new industry pushing for a tighter relationship between craft and industry.Central to the initiation of the movement was Peter Behrens his belief in the necessity of a unification of art and industry, which subsequently inspired International Style. The tightening relationship between industry and craft was later echoed by the Bauhaus, which was founded in 1919. Bauhaus was arguably the most significant movement to influence Swiss design. Pioneered by Walter Gropius, the movement centralised around educating arts and crafts promoting avant garde ideas. The formation of the movement was largely a result of political changes and social turmoil within Germany. The newly established Weimer republic recognised the importance of mass production as a means to meet demand and efficiently keep cost low. This allowed the Bauhaus to flourish. The Bauhaus


movement also introduced a sense of universalism, promoting the idea that design was interconnected, this principle was prevalent to the International Style. Bauhaus was founded in Germany following World War 1. Social changes within Germany enabled Bauhaus to flourish, with strict censorship laws within Germany being abolished following the end of WW1. De Stijl, which was founded in 1917, also looked to merge with industry with craft. The movements sought international unity with art and design.

Up: Logo of Bauhaus School, designed by Oskar Schlemmer in 1922. Right: Bauhaus School.


The ‘Modern architecture: International’ Exhibition opened on February 9, 1932, at the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA), in the Heckscher Building at Fifth Avenue and 56th Street in New York..

After remaining on show for six weeks, the exhibition then toured the USA - the first such “travelling-exhibition” of architecture in the US - for six years.


German pioneer Mies van der Rohe similarly pursued modernist principles on design, again embracing new industrial materials and the merging between industry and design. This ultimately saw the emergence of the International Style.’The Modern architecture:International’(1932) exhibition was significant in its initiation of the movement. Curated by Philip Johnson and Henry-Russell Hitchcock, the exhibition looked to reinforce the unified visual language of the movement by showcasing the style.

The principles of clarity and visual order later influenced International Typographic Style,otherwise referred to as Swiss Style. This graphic design focused movement came to prominence in the 1950’s in both Germany and Switzerland. The development of the style coincided with rising corporate culture. Its clean visual language with an emphasis on clarity and information layout was well suited to brand identity.

International Style really began to gain momentum following the dispersion of key Bauhaus practitioners across Europe and America. Bauhaus was stifled by the Nazi regime, which rejected their modernist principles. Several key figures within Bauhaus subsequently fled Germany including Walter Gropius and Mies van der Rohe. This was significant in allowing their modernist principles to survive and flourish in otherwise toxic environment.



Influence on Architecture Design


Louis Sullivan (1856-1924), a American architect who was called the ‘father of skyscrapers’

The first influential architect on International style was Louis Sullivan (1856-1924). Louis Sullivan’s architecture was a mixture of plain geometry and lack of ornamentation. This is evident in his major principle idea of ‘form follows function’. The only signs of ornamentation would be engraved into the stone of the building, and would be kept to a minimum.



Wainwright Building, 1891 In the 1880s Louis Sullivan had indicated to Chicago architects that they would have to use more advanced modes of construction if they wanted to remain in practice; as stated in chapter one the advances in new building materials such as steel and concrete allowed Louis Sullivan to design the Wainwright Building effectively. The use of fireproof steel frames, with its ability to provide multistory rentable space; also enabled speculators to develop downtown sites to the absolute optimum. The use of these steel frames along with the invention of elevators allowed architects to double the height of their office buildings. These steel frames were the structural skeleton of the building. Louis Sullivan followed the principles of functionalism mainly influenced by his view ‘form follows function’. Functionalism was an aesthetic doctrine developed in the early 20th century, Functionalist architects design utilitarian structures, in which the interior design follows the outside forms principles. There was little to no regard to traditional devices such as axial symmetry and classical proportions, although they recognized a human need for nature.


Louis Sullivan designed with the principles of combining the world of nature with science and technology. He attempted to balance ornamentation into the whole building design rather than merely applying it through added details. Louis Sullivan insisted that architecture had to embody the human connection with nature and to democracy, while still accommodating the most modern functional needs and materials.


Frank Loyed Wright (1867-1959), an American architect and designer

Frank Lloyd Wright was an American architect and interior designer, designing over 1000 structures and completed 532 works. He believed in designing structures which were in harmony with humanity and its environment. Frank Lloyd Wright’s views on architectural space, ornamentation, and the relationship with the site inspired generations of architects and designers.



Fallingwater, 1935 Frank Lloyd Wright introduced the word ‘organic’ into his theories on architecture; this was an extension of his mentor Louis Sullivan, Frank Lloyd Wright changed the phrase ‘form follows function’ to ‘form and function are one’ he showed this through his work by using nature as the best example of this integration. Organic architecture follows the design process of nature by adapting to each site, climate, and set of materials. Organic architecture took on a new meaning when adapted by Frank Lloyd Wright, instead of it being a representation of nature the principles of nature had been reinterpreted so that they could build forms that are ‘more natural than nature itself’; respecting the properties of materials, and respect for the harmonious relationship between the design and the function of the building. One of the most recognized pieces of Frank Lloyd Wright’s work is Fallingwater. Built in 1935 in rural southwestern Pennsylvania. The home was built party over a waterfall, Frank Lloyd Wright thoroughly fused the house with the site, so much so its looks part of the nature. The use of interlocking


geometry of the planes and the flat texture-less surface of the main shelves demonstrates the use of international style features. The building has a lot of clear glass windows to allow the outside to flow freely into the inside. Frank Lloyd Wright described this site as ‘organic’; the house is engaged with its surrounding showing how nature and function can work harmoniously. Frank Lloyd Wright acknowledged the human need for nature; he clearly accomplished this through his work, as well as recognizing the need for function within a household. Fallingwater is one of Frank Lloyd Wrights more powerful pieces with its structural drama and beauty; it is his most inspiring integration of man and nature.


Mies van der Rohe (1886-1969), an German-American architect

Mies van der Rohe was a German architect, striving to create a new modern form and functional theory of architecture, an unornamented style incorporating geometric shapes, new construction techniques and materials. The buildings he designed were usually flat roofed, asymmetrical with ribbon windows in a rectangular form.



Farnworth House, 1951 Mies Van Der Rohe followed the ideals of rationalism and minimalism; Rationalism within architecture kept a strong commitment to the conquests of the aesthetics of Cubism. ‘Less is more’; became a guiding principle within his work. Mies Van Der Rohe believed in structural honesty and designed some of the earliest glass and curtain wall office towers on the 1950s. The Farnsworth House, built between 1945 and 1951 for Dr. Edith Farnsworth as a weekend retreat, is a platonic perfection of order gently placed in spontaneous nature in Plano, Illinois. Just right outside of Chicago in a 10-acre secluded wooded site with the Fox River to the south, the glass pavilion takes full advantage of relating to its natural surroundings, achieving Mies’ concept of a strong relationship between the house and nature. The single-story house consists of eight I-shaped steel columns that support the roof and floor frameworks, and therefore are both structural and expressive. In between these columns are floor-to-ceiling windows around the entire house, opening up the rooms to the woods around it. The windows are what provide the beauty of Mies’ idea of tying the residence with its tranquil surroundings. His idea for shading and privacy was through the many trees that were located on the private site. Mies


explained this concept in an interview about the glass pavilion stating, “Nature, too, shall live its own life. We must beware not to disrupt it with the color of our houses and interior fittings. Yet we should attempt to bring nature, houses, and human beings together into a higher unity.” Mies intended for the house to be as light as possible on the land, and so he raised the house 5 feet 3 inches off the ground, allowing only the steel columns to meet the ground and the landscape to extend past the residence. In order to accomplish this, the mullions of the windows also provide structural support for the floor slab. The ground floor of the Farnsworth House is thereby elevated, and wide steps slowly transcend almost effortlessly off the ground, as if they were floating up to the entrance. Aside from walls in the center of the house enclosing bathrooms, the floor plan is completely open exploiting true minimalism.


Le Corbusier (1887-1965), a SwissFrench architect and designer

Architecture was heavily influenced by International style most notably attributed by Le Corbusier. Corbusier’s concept lavished in the idea of space, simplicity and modern structural design. Corbusier identified three major architectural discoveries; the contrast between space, classical proportion and geometric forms- a unified idea crutial to the modernism of todays architecture.




Maison Dom-Ino is an open floor plan structure. It was designed by Le Corbusier in 1915

Ville Contemporaine was an unrealized project to house three million inhabitants. It was designed by Le Corbusier in 1922

As mentioned in chapter one the rise of an industrialised society lead to new building technologies such as steel and reinforced concrete. These materials were central to Le Corbusier’s designs, this is evident in ‘Maison Dom-Ino’ Designed in 1915. With the layout of this plan being completely independent from the structure of the design, the idea surrounding this proved to be free-standing rigid building designed for the mass production aspect Corbusier had inherited. Collaborating with artist Amedee Ozenfant, the concept behind purism itself lead to architecture to be fully refined and simplified, it was believed that architecture would end up being as efficient as a factory assembly line. Corbusier expresses his thoughts thoroughly in his book ‘Vers Une Architecture’, he stated ‘a house…is a machine for living in’. However, despite this expression, Corbusier was determined to reintroduce nature and freedom into societies life. He began to use his concepts and theories to create structurally fascinating and influential architecture,

he created ‘Ville Contemporaine in 1922, Which was envisaged to be divided into 24 functional zones and ‘Ville Radieuse in 1933-1935, which proved to show a considerably cheaper way of living through a long building in parklands. It was after the Second World War that Le Corbusier began the design of The Unite d’Habition in Marselles. This concept began in the hope to rebuild cities for the European housing problem at the time. Designed to house over 1600 people and totalling 17 stories, Unite d’Habition aimed to hold housing, shops and clubs. This is still viewed as an influential architectural achievement today.


Chandigarh, 1953 Le Corbusier was a pioneer of Brutalism, this movement promoted rigid formal approach to architecture. Similarly to International style the movement was not concerned with expression and individuality, but rather an emphasise on control and function. The design of the 1953 Secretariat Building (Chandigarh), also known as the Palace of Assembly in Chandigarh was one of his most recognised Brutalist buildings. The city of Chandigarh was notably the first planned city in India’s post-independence and was primarily designed by Corbusier, this is significant because it was rare that one architect could have such wide spread control over an urban development. The Palace of Assembly is a legislative assembly which comprises of three building belonging to the capitol complex; Legislative Assembly, Secretalriat and High Court. It was after the partition of Punjab that Corbusier was commissioned by the first prime minister of India to build the city of Chandigarh. As a brief for the new city, Corbusier was assigned to build a city that was ‘unfettered by the traditions of the past, a symbol of the nation faith in the future’. Brutalism’s public perception was somewhat negative. This was highlighted by its name that describes something ugly. This was largely due to the movements use of concrete, which was viewed as unwelcoming and aesthetically harsh.






Influence on Furniture & Product Design


Mies van der Rohe (1886-1969) was an German - American architect. He is considered one of the most influential architects of the 20th century. He designed modern furnitures using new industrial technologies that have become popular classics. Most of his works was in the design and construction of commercial and industrial buildings. Max Bill (1908 - 1994) was a Swiss architect, artist, painter, typeface designer, industrial designer and graphic designer. He is widely considered the single most decisive influence on Swiss graphic design beginning in the 1950s. As an industrial designer, his work is characterized by a clarity of design and precise proportions.

Marcel Breuer (1902 - 1981) was a Hungarian-born modernist, architect and furniture designer. One of the masters of Modernism, Breuer extended the sculptural vocabulary he had developed in the carpentry shop at the Bauhaus in to a personal architecture taht made him one of the world’s most popular architects at the peak of 20th century design. Dieter Rams (1932 - present) is an German industrial designer closely associated with the consumer products company Braun and the Functionalist school of industrial design. In 2010, to mark his contribution ot the world of design, he was awarded the ‘Kölner Klopfer’ prize by the students of the Cologne International School of Design and in 2009 awarded the great design prize in Australia.



Barcelona Chair, 1929 The first significant example of product design to be analysed in this chapter is the Barcelona Chair which was designed by Mies van der Rohe , a German-American architect who was widely considered as one of the pioneering masters of modern architecture. WW (SwivelUK, n.d.). It is 12mm thick, solid core steel to provide extra strength. a clean single piece finished without screws or bolts to reveal the famous ‘X’ shape which is in keeping with the original structure of The Barcelona chair.

Individual genuine leather panels are cut for the seat cushions and hand welted and tufted. Each individual leather panel is then hand stitched and piped to cover the seat cushions. Top grain Italian leather is used on the cushions for a soft buttery finish. The cushions are supported by buckle straps and not Velcro straps as on inferior versions. The back cushion is slightly curved to the shape of the steel as per the original design. (SwivelUK, n.d.). In general the whole design of the chair is functional and simple. It is unique not only because of its design, but also the different aim of the design. International style designers claimed to want simple, functional and massproduced products for the working class but


the Barcelona Chair is difficult to produce and it was a custom design for the Spanish King and Queen. With this chair, Mies van der Rohe made an important artistic statement. He showed how negative space could be used to transform a functional item into sculpture.


Ulm Stool, 1954 The next two classic products to be mentioned are the Ulm Stool and the legendary Chronoscope Watch. They are both designed by Max Bill, who was a famous Swiss architect, industrial and graphic designer. He was also the president of Ulm School of design, which is seen as the heir to the Bauhaus School. In 1954, Bill designed the Ulm Stool for his school. The design style of Bill is identified as the clarity of appearance and the preciseness of proportion, which makes the Ulm stool a classic example. It is not only without any decoration, but also his minimalist style has many functions such as general chairs, bedside tables and chairs. In the meantime his work expertly combined elements of work and leisure. The Ulm Stool cancels the difference between work and leisure.


Chronoscope Watch, 1962 Another typical example is the legendary Chronoscope watch that Bill designed for a German brand that is called Junghans in 1962. Opting for a minimal appearance, Max Bill created a piece of watch that was styled like a work of minimalist architecture. Perhaps not surprisingly since Max Bill was closely connected to the master of lessis-more, Mies van der Rohe, in his early years at the Bauhaus. Max Bill designed it so all elements effortlessly blended together: design, craftsmanship, quality and materials. The appearance of the watch was simple and clean but the contrast of the appearance was strong which created the sense of elegance.


Wassily Chair, 1925 The fourth typical example to be analysed in this chapter is the Wassily Chair designed by Marcel Breuer, who is a Hugarian-born modernist architect and one of the masters of modernism in 1925. It is the first chair which is structured using pipes, and it was designed for commemorating Breuer’s great mentor Wassily Kandinsky. The Wassily Chair is seen as a sign of international style product design, not only for its clean appearance but also the material used were easily acquired. The main materials are textile and pipe, this is why it was massproduced easily. The design concept behind the Wassily Chair mirrored the principle of International style design.


LE1 Electrostatic Speaker The last example to be analysed is the LE1 Electrostatic Speaker designed by Dieter Rams in 1959, a famous German industrial designer who closely associated with the consumer products company Braun and the functionalist school of industrial design. There are only two main parts that are visible for the whole speaker, which are the thin steel structure and a big rectangle speaker unit. The design idea was to only present the speaker, there is no decoration on the appearance and that makes the design totally functional. In fact, the Mac design of Apple company was inspired by this early speaker design. This demonstrates how the principles are still maintained in modern design.



Influence on Graphic Design & Typography


This chapter explores the impact of International Style on graphic design and typography. Like the architectural principles of International Style, the graphic and typographic principles sought clarity and simplicity. Graphic designers Joseph Müller Brockman, Emil Ruder and Armin Hofmann maintained that the use of minimal elements of graphics was known to be the most effective method of communication.

Josef Müller-Brockman (1914-1996), was a Swiss graphic designer


Josef Müller-Brockmann was born in Rapperswil, Switzerland in 1914 and studied architecture, design and history of art at the University of Zurich and at the city’s Kunstgewerbeschule. He began his career as an apprentice to the designer and advertising consultant Walter Diggelman before, in 1936, establishing his own Zurich studio specialising in graphics, exhibition design and photography. By the 1950s he was established as the leading practitioner and theorist of Swiss Style, which sought a universal graphic expression through a grid-based design purged of extraneous illustration and subjective feeling. His “Musica viva” poster series for the Zurich Tonhalle drew on the language of Constructivism to create a visual correlative to the structural harmonies of the music. He has contributed to many symposiums and has held one-man exhibitions in Zurich, Bern, Hamburg, Munich, Stuttgart, Berlin, Paris, New York, Chicago, Tokyo, Osaka, Caracas and Zagreb. In 1987 he was awarded a gold medal for his cultural contribution by the State of Zurich.

beethoven Josef Müller-Brockman (Swiss, 1914–1996) 1955 Poster 128 x 90.5 cm


Schützt das Kind, designed by Joseph Müller-Brockman in 1953. It was for traffic safety called “Watch That Child”.

Here is one of his most recognized work. His use of photography is extremely powerful and memorable; the cropping of the motorcycle and seeing the full body of the running child puts you in the situation where it makes you the witness of the incident that’s about to happen. What makes the poster really effective and unique is the details you see of the close up of the motorcycle, which we don’t often see and gives us the uncomfortable situation suggesting that something bad is about to occur. This aspect of using extreme close


ups has influenced many designers today such as M/M Paris, an art and design company and fashion house Balenciaga. M/M Paris has combined their knowledge of ‘Swiss style’ with punk aspects when collaborating with Balenciaga.

Zurich Tonhalle. Concert poster, designed by Joseph Müller Brockman 1971. This is one of the posters of the whole serie.

His influences come from several art movements and designs that are very similar to each other such as De Stijl, Suprematism, Constructivism, and Bauhaus. Mostly his works are conceptually abstract with geometric elements especially his ‘Zurich Tonhalle Concert posters.’ It is also based strictly upon rules of typography, grids and use of neutral colours, which are all principles of International style. The use of grid systems reinforces the purpose and importance of its simplicity, describes Josef Muller Brockmann in his book, Grid

system (1996). These simple clean graphic messages and shapes he creates is what the viewers embraces and makes it easier to be understood. Josef Muller brockman was also involved in educating the future graphic designers about the Swiss style. Emil Ruder was also in Basel School of Design who was taught by the same mentor and Ernst Keller.


Neue Grafik magazine was initiated by designer Josef M端ller-Brockmann and published in eighteen issues between 1958 and 1965 by an editorial collective consisting of him, Richard Paul Lohse, Hans Neuburg und Carlo Vivarelli ( LMNV ).


Neue Grafik, the “International Review of graphic design and related subjects,” was initiated by Josef Müller-Brockmann and published in eighteen issues between 1958 and 1965 by an editorial collective consisting of him, Richard Paul Lohse, Hans Neuburg und Carlo Vivarelli ( LMNV ). The complete volumes are now available in an excellent facsimile reprint from Lars Müller Publishers.

reference in the recent history of graphic design. After the heights of the digital revolution now follows a renewed concern for matter-of-fact concepts and clear form languages. This explains the interest in the almost fundamentalist stance of the four Zurich-based designers, who were responsible for the content of the magazine.

From a historical point of view, Neue Grafik can be seen as a programmatic platform and effective publishing organ of Swiss graphic design, an international authority in its field at the time. Protagonists of the Swiss school and its rigorous Zurich faction lead an essential discourse on the foundations of current communication and constructive design. The influence of this movement cannot be overstated. The Swiss school, also called “International Style,” became exemplary for the conceptual approach to corporate design of increasingly globally operating corporations and an influential precursor in the design of individual projects, such as posters, exhibitions, and publications. Neue Grafik is an important point of


Emil Ruder is considered to have played a key role in teaching typography and developing Swiss Style. He was a typographer and graphic designer who, born in Switzerland in 1914, helped Armin Hofmann form the Basel School of Design and establish the style of design known as Swiss Design. He taught that, above all, typography’s purpose was to communicate ideas through writing. He placed a heavy importance on sans-serif typefaces and his work is both clear and concise, especially his typography. Emil Ruder (1914-1970), was a Swiss typographer and graphic designer


Like most designers classified as part of the Swiss Design movement he favored asymmetrical compositions, placing a high importance on the counters of characters and the negative space of compositions. A friend and associate of Hofmann, Frutiger and MĂźller Brockmann, Ruder played a key role in the development of graphic design in the 1940s and 50s. His style has been emulated by many designers, and his use of grids in design has influenced the development of web design on many levels.

Glaskunst aus Murano Emil Ruder (Swiss, 1914–1970) Poster 128 x 90.5 cm


Typographie: A Manual for Design, was published by Emil Ruder in 1958. It is the timeless textbook from which generations of typographer and graphic designers have learned their fundamentals.

In the post-war years, when in nearly every field of applied art there were still no signs whatsoever of a shift to a new, more contemporary form of expression, Emil Ruder was one of the first to abandon the conventional rules of traditional typographers and graphic designers have built and can continue to build on. His book ‘Typographie: A Manual for Design’ is the timeless text book from which generations of typographer and graphic designers habe learned their fundamentals. It advocates his Swiss typography theory, its design principles and studies done by his students. What he has done in his teachings in typography is he has


‘abandoned the conventional rules of and replaced them with new rules that satisfied the requirements of his new typography.’ In this book, Ruder’s philosophy in typography was explained into 19 chapters, showing a multitude of possible ways to see and develop in typography. It is clear to see throughout the book impact of using negative space and grid structures.

In this example of his work, it is also translated to the ‘Good Form’. The main image is an abstract illustration which is simple and clean and it presents contrast when it is placed on the black background. The arrangements of text and illustration are carefully placed. How illustration placed towards the left creates the space for text, which creates less distraction. He has given attention towards negative space as previously mentioned. This creates perfect co-ordination and adds balance between the illustration and the text.

die gute Form poster, designed by Emil Ruder in 1958


Armin Hofmann (1920 - present), was a Swiss graphic designer


Armin Hofmann is recognised for using geometrical and graphical shapes, lines, black and white colour in his poster designs. All of his work conveys simplicity, abstraction and use of Akzidenz- Grotesk typography. This type was popularly used in Swiss Style. (Swiss style explained in Chapter 1) His career began as a teacher at the Basel School of Arts and Crafts where he met Emil Ruder. He created a series of posters throughout his career. ‘Successful poster must be clearly viewed from a distance of one hundred feet away’, writes Steven Heller in Armin Hofmann ‘Poster Collection’ book. One of his most talked about designs is Die Gute Form. It involves complexity, simplicity and abstraction, which attracts the audience due to the geometrical letterforms, which almost look like symbols. This is what catches audience curiosity to investigate further. “He believed that the more complex the environment became, the more minimal and clear the design should be.” (Heller 2003) Cleanliness, simplicity and concentration were very important in his work. He respected ethical responsibilities designers needed to take such as his restriction in the use of colours in his work, ‘Designing also means being aware of your ethical responsibilities.’

Die Gute Form Armin Hofmann (Swiss, 1920 – present) 1959 Poster


Univers typeface, created by Adrian Frutiger in 1954

Helvetica typeface, created by Max Miedinger in 1957

International style had a profound influence on typographic design as well. Designers who embraced these ideals sought to achieve them with a single type family, therefore sans-serif was created. The typeface easily accommodates modern design’s abstract, intellectual attitudes, and was adopted by most designers practicing at this time.

by Joesef Muller-Brockmann in 1959. Beforehand Muller-Brockmann and his colleges exclusively used Akzidenz on their publication. Univers is based on AkzidenzGrotesk and the biggest strength for it is its diversity, consisting of 44 faces, with 16 uniquely numbered weight, width, and position combinations. It also works well as both body copy and display.

Akzidenz Grotesk was the first widelyadopted sans serif typeface, and a big influencer on many later neo-grotesque typefaces, such as Helvetica and Univers. Akzidenz Grotesk was created in 1898 by H. Berthold AG type foundry, and was originally called ‘Accidenz-Grotesk’. This versatile typeface was suitable for both headlines and body copy. The slight quirks present in the typeface give it a bit more visual interest than other, similar neogrotesques.

Helvetica was published in 1957 and designed by Max Miedinger in Switzerland. It is now a widely used sans-serif font, but its original purpose was to be a competitor to Akzidenz. It was previously known as Neue Haas Grotesk but renamed Helvetica (meaning Swiss in Latin) in 1960 so it would be more marketable internationally. It was designed to fit a consistent programme of weights and widths, meaning it lost much of its strength. Its uniform, upright character makes it similar to transitional serif letters. One of Helvetica’s more remarkable features is its large x-height, which is even larger than that of Univers, giving the letterforms increased volume, allowing for better legibility than many sans-serifs.

Univers is a typeface created by Zurich trained Adrian Frutiger, designed in 1954 it was introduced by Emil Ruder to be used on Neue Grafik, a magazine created


Logos created with Helvetica Various brand


The canons of page construction are a set of principles in the field of book design used to describe the ways that page proportions, margins and type areas (print spaces) of books are constructed.

The notion of canons, or laws of form, of book page construction was popularized by Jan Tschichold in the mid to late twentieth century, based on the work of J. A. van de Graaf, RaĂşl M. Rosarivo, Hans Kayser, and others.


Another Swiss style trait is the use of Grid systems and the influence it has had on the structure of magazines, posters and more recently web design. A grid system is used to help graphic designers organise the information of a page into a logical and coherent format. However the Grid system wasn’t always the predominant process of arranging type onto a page. Books were once a luxury only the richest could afford and would take months of work to produce. The bookmakers knew a secret system, now known as a ‘canon’, that allowed them to arrange the blocks of text into a harmonious unit. Jan Tschichold, a swiss typographer, sort to rediscover this process of producing the ‘perfect book’, studying the work of J. A. van de Graaf he developed the Van de Graaf Canon. This is a process of dividing a two-page spread that leads to the text block outcome having the same ratio of the page, but also positions it in perfectly whole units.

precision easy, and contemporary grids subdivide the page into small component parts that can be combined in numerous ways that still ensure cohesion in the design. The Grid system is widely used today in web design, the core principles of simplicity and usability are maintained to organise information for the viewer to quickly access. The grid is often so important it is the first priority of the designer, once a consistent logical screen layout is established it allows you to ‘plug in’ text and graphics without having to rethink the basic design approach on each page. The Grid system has progressed from a secretive system that only the privileged knew about to a widely used template that designers adopt in modern media.

Typographers like Herbert Bayer and Jan Tschichold, called for some order to be imposed on what seemed like ‘fractured chaos’. Jan Tschichold continued to explore subtle horizontal and vertical alignments, and used a limited range of fonts, type sizes, and type weights. The Grid was most notably popularised by the graphic designer Josef Müller-Brockmann, in his book Grid systems in graphic design. The work of Müller-Brockmann helped to expand Swiss style across the world into International typographic style, as it is known today. The difference between grids used today and the page layouts of the past are found in increased flexibility and mathematical dexterity. The advances in technology and the use of computers has made greater

Grid System, a book produced by Josef Müller-Brockmann, published by Niggli in 1991.



Conclusion 67

International Style poster nowadays Various artists


As has been demonstrated International Style significantly influenced areas of architectural design, furniture and product design, graphic and typography design. Pivotal to this cultural shift and way of thinking about designing were Le Corbusier and Mies van der Rohe and graphics designers Joseph Müller Brockman and Max Bill and furniture designers such as Marcel Breuer and Dieter Rams.

claiming that the style is boring. This led to the increasing appeal for expression and subsequently the decline in International style. However International style principles are still relevant today, especially for graphic design. For example the grid systems today are an established tool that is often used by print and web designers to create wellstructured, balanced designs.

Towards the end of the 20th century designers criticised paintings and books no one understood, buildings no one wanted to live in or bare to look at, and faceless, alienating products with little sensuous appeal. That is becasue of the concept of the movement. The philosophies of the International Style are that “less is more,” and “form follows function.” This style values simplicity and eschews decoration and that means the works are simple and it utilizes space well. In architecture field International Style didn’t last for long becasue the focus of the style is the use, not hte appearance, of buildings. The designers claim that the simple forms have elegance but the auidence disagress,


Glossary of terms and artistic movements Abstract, Abstraction A form of art which does not seek to represent the world around us. The term is applicable to any art that does not represent reconizable objects, but refers particularly to forms of twentieth-century art in which the idea of art imitating nature has been abandoned. Kandinsky, Mondrian and Malevich were among abstraction’s early pioneers.

Bauhaus The Bauhaus school was founded by the architect Walter Gropius at Weimar in 1919 and became the centre of modern design in Germany in the 1920s. Reflecting some of the socialist currents in Europe at the time, its aim was to bring art and design into the domain of daily. Gropius believed that artists and architects should be considered as craftsmen and tha ttheir creations should be practical and affordable. The characteristic Bauhaus style was simple, geometrical and highly refined. In 1933 the school was closed by the Nazi government who claimed that it was a centre of communist intellectualism. Although the school was physically dissolved, its staff continued to spread its idealistic precepts as they left Germany and emigrated all over the world.

Cubism This revolutionary method of making a pictorial image was invented by Picasso and Braque in the first decade of the twentieth century. Although it may appear abstract and geometrical, Cubist art does in fact depict real objects. The objects are ‘flattened’ onto the canvas so that different sides of each shape can be shown simultaneously. Instead of creating the illusion of an object in space, as artists had endeavoured to do since the Renaissance, Cubist art defines objects in terms


of the two-dimensional canvas. This innovation gave rise to an extraordinary reassessment of the interaction between form and space and changed the course of Western art forever.

De Stijl De Stijl, also known as neoplasticism, was a Dutch artistic movement founded in 1917 in Amsterdam. In a narrower sense, the term De Stijl is used to refer to a body of work from 1917 to 1931 founded in the Netherlands. The works of De Stijl would influence the Bauhaus style and the international style of architecture as well as clothing and interior design.

Expressionism Expressionism was a modernist movement, initially in poetry and painting, originating in Germany at the beginning of the 20th century. Its typical trait is to present the world solely from a subjective perspective, distorting it radically for emotional effect in order to evoke moods or ideas. Expressionist artists sought to express meaning[3] or emotional experience rather than physical reality. Expressionism was developed as an avant-garde style before the First World War. It remained popular during the Weimar Republic, particularly in Berlin. The style extended to a wide range of the arts, including expressionist architecture, painting, literature, theatre, dance, film and music. The term is sometimes suggestive of angst. In a general sense, painters such as Matthias Grünewald and El Greco are sometimes termed expressionist, though in practice the term is applied mainly to 20th-century works. The Expressionist emphasis on individual perspective has been characterized as a reaction to positivism and other artistic styles such as Naturalism and Impressionism.

Functionalism Functionalism is the principle that architects should design a building based on the purpose of that building. This statement is less self-evident than it first appears, and is a matter of confusion and controversy within the profession, particularly in regard to modern architecture. Functionalism had the strongest influence in Germany, Czechoslovakia, USSR and Netherlands. The place of functionalism in building can be traced back to the Vitruvian triad, where ‘utilitas’ (variously translated as ‘commodity’, ‘convenience’, or ‘utility’) stands alongside ‘venustas’ (beauty) and ‘firmitas’ (firmness) as one of three classic goals of architecture. Functionalist views were typical of some gothic revival architects, in particular Augustus Welby Pugin wrote that “there should be no features about a building which are not necessary for convenience, construction, or propriety” and “all ornament should consist of enrichment of the essential construction of the building”. The debate about functionalism and aesthetics is often framed as a mutually exclusive choice, when in fact there are architects, like Will Bruder, James Polshek and Ken Yeang, who attempt to satisfy all three Vitruvian goals.

only of Greek and Roman classicism, but also of succeeding stylistic eras, which were increasingly considered equivalent. In particular in architecture and in the genre of history painting, which increasingly painted historical subjects with great attention to accurate period detail, the global influence of historicism was especially strong from the 1850s onwards. The change is often related to the rise of the bourgeoisie during and after the Industrial Revolution. By the end of the century, in the fin de siècle, Symbolism and Art Nouveau followed by Expressionism and Modernism acted to make Historicism look outdated, although many large public commissions continued in the 20th century. The Arts and Crafts movement managed to combine a looser vernacular historicism with elements of Art Nouveau and other contemporary styles. Influences of historicism remained strong even until the 1950s in many countries. When postmodern architecture became widely popular in the 1980s, a movement of Neo-Historism followed, that is still prominent and can be found around the world, especially in representative and upper-class buildings.



Historicism or also Historism (German: Historismus) comprises artistic styles that draw their inspiration from recreating historic styles or artisans. This is especially prevalent in architecture, such as revival architecture. Through combination of different styles or implementation of new elements, historicism can create completely different aesthetics than former styles. Thus it offers a great variety of possible designs. In history of art, after Neoclassicism which in the Romantic era could itself be considered a historicist movement, the 19th century saw a new historicist phase marked by an interpretation not

Amovement in painting that originated in France in the 1860s. Impressionist painters were fascinated by the relationship between light and colour, painting in pure pigment using free brushstrokes. They were also radical in their choice of subject matter, avoiding traditional historical, religious or romantic themes to concentrate on landscapes and scenes of everyday life. the movement’s name was initially coined in derision by a journalist, who saw one of monet’s paintings entitled Impression Sunrise. Monet’s late series of paintings of waterlilies paved the way for abstraction.




Minimalism in the arts began in post–World War II Western Art, most strongly with American visual arts in the 1960s and early 1970s. Prominent artists associated with this movement include Donald Judd, John McCracken, Agnes Martin, Dan Flavin, Robert Morris, Anne Truitt, and Frank Stella. It derives from the reductive aspects of Modernism and is often interpreted as a reaction against Abstract expressionism and a bridge to Postminimal art practices.

In architecture, rationalism is an architectural current which mostly developed from Italy in the 1920s-1930s. Vitruvius had already established in his work De Architectura that architecture is a science that can be comprehended rationally. [citation needed] This formulation was taken up and further developed in the architectural treatises of the Renaissance. Progressive art theory of the 18thcentury opposed the Baroque use of illusionism with the classic beauty of truth and reason.


Swiss Style

More of an attitude than a specific style, Modernism was a phenomenon which first arose in the early part of the twentieth century, and was an affirmation of faith in the tradition of the new. From the Impressionists’ depictions of the fashionable bourgeoisie, to the radical new style of the Cubists, artists became more and more concerned with finding a visual equivalent ot contemporary life and thought. Modernism encompasses many of the avant-garde movements of the first half of the twentieth century.

The Swiss Style is also known as the International Typographic Style. It is a graphic design style developed in Switzerland in the 1950s that emphasizes cleanliness, readability and objectivity. the Swiss Style does not simply describe a style of graphic design made in Switzerland. It became famous through the art of very talented Swiss graphic designers, but it emerged in Russia, Germany and Netherlands in the 1920’s. This style in art, architecture and culture became an ‘international’ style after 1950’s and it was produced by artists all around the globe. Despite that, people still refer to it as the Swiss Style or the Swiss Legacy. This progressive, radical movement in graphic design is not concerned with the graphic design in Switzerland, but rather with the new style that had been proposed, attacked and defended in the 1920s in Switzerland. Keen attention to detail, precision, craft skills, system of education and technical training, a high standard of printing as well as a clear refined and inventive lettering and typoraphy laid out a foundation for a new movement that has been exported worldwide in 1960s to become an international style.

Organic Architecture Organic architecture is a philosophy of architecture which promotes harmony between human habitation and the natural world through design approaches so sympathetic and well integrated with its site, that buildings, furnishings, and surroundings become part of a unified, interrelated composition.

Purism Purism was a movement that took place between 1918–1925 that influenced French painting and architecture. Purism was led by Amédée Ozenfant and Le Corbusier. Ozenfant and Le Corbusier created a variation of Cubist movement and called it Purism.


Bibliography Introduction

Chapter 1

Heller, S (1999). Less is More: The New Simplicity in Graphic Design . North Light Books .

Brockmann,J.M(1996)Grid systems in graphic design:a visual communication manual for graphic designers,typographers and three dimensional designers.4th ed.Stuttgart:Verlag Gerd Hatje. pp.49-104

Julier, G (2004). Thames & Hudson Dictionary of Design since 1900. London : Thames and Hudson Ltd. p121-124. p139-142. p169-172 MĂźller-Brockman, J (2008). Grid Systems in Graphic Design: A Handbook for Graphic Artists, Typographers, and Exhibition Designers. Niggli Verlag; Bilingual edition. Friedman, V. (2007). Designing With GridBased Approach. Available: http://www. Last accessed 7th Apr 2014. International Style. Available: http://www.britannica. com/EBchecked/topic/291280/International-Style. Last accessed 9th Apr 2014. Jeys, A. (2013). Say What You Mean: A Quick Guide To Graphic Design Styles. Available: http:// Last accessed 7th Apr 2014. Kroeger, M. (2007). Timeline for Graphic Design History. Available: Last accessed 9th Apr 2014.

Drucker,J.Mcvarish,E(2009)Graphic design history:a critical guide.NJ:Pearson.p.162-186.pp.258-280 Hollis,R.(year)Swiss graphic design:The origins and growth of an International style,1920-1960 Julier,G.(2004)The Thames & Hudson dictionary of design since 1900.4th ed.London:Thames & Hudson.pp.30,38,42,72,90,106-7,111,121 Kinross,R(2004)Modern typography:an essay in critical history.London:Hyphen.pp.103-158 Meggs,P.B.Purvis,A.W(2006)Meggs history of graphic design.4th ed.New York:Wiley.p.356-374 Uddin Khan,H(1998)International style:Modernist architecture – 1925-1965.Benedikt Taschen.pp.1163.pp.89 - 115 Terror,D (2009) Lessons from swiss style graphic design [online] Available from: http://www.

Novin, G. (2012). The History of Graphic Design . Available: http://guity-novin.blogspot. Last accessed 10th Apr 2014.


Chapter 2

Chapter 3

Adelyn Perez (2010) AD Classics; Fallingwater house/ Frank Lloyd Wright [online] available from; Date accessed 2/4/2014

SwivelUk (n.d.). Barcelona Chair. [online] Avaliable from: [Accessed 10 April 2014] (1994) Wainwright building [online] available from buildings/Wainwright_Building.html date accessed 4/4/2014 City of Chicago. Louis H. Sullivan [online] available from landmarksweb/web/architectdetails.htm?arcId=14 date accessed 4/4/2014 Designboom (2000) Ludwieg Mies Van Der Rohe [online] available from portrait/mies/bg.html date accessed 5/4/2014 Design Museum (2006) Frank Lloyd Wright [online] available from frank-lloyd-wright Date accessed: 2/4/2014 Fallingwater (2014) fallingwater [online] available from Date accessed: 2/4/2014 H.F. Koeper (2013) Louis Sullivan [online] available from topic/572949/Louis-Sullivan Date accessed 2/4/2014 Michael D. McCumber (1997) Frank Lloyd Wright’s Fallingwater [online] available from http://www. Date accessed 2/4/2014


Rohe, M. Barelona Chair. (n.d.). [online image]. Available from: catalog/product/cache/1/image/5e06319eda 06f020e43594a9c230972d/L/M/LMVDR121NLE013-3_1_1_1_1_1_2_1_1/ [Accessed 10 April 2014] Bill, M. Chronoscope Watch. (n.d.). [online image]. Available from: graphics/00000001/027460000.jpg [Accessed 10 April 2014] Breuer, M. Wassily Chair. (n.d.). [ online image]. Available from: images/T/med-wassily-chair.jpg [Accessed 11 April 2014] Rams, D. Braun LE1 Electrostatic Speaker. (n.d.). [online image]. Available from: http://www. LE1-loudspeaker-e1270656735691.jpg

Chapter 4 Brockmann, J. M. (1996). Grid System in Graphic Design. Switzerland: Ram Publications; Bilingual edition. Carter, S. (2002). Twentieth Century Type Designers. London: Lund Humphries Publishers. Friedl, F. (1998). Typography. Kรถln: Konemann UK. Garfield, S. (2011). Just My Type: A Book About Fonts. London: Profile Books. Gomez-Palacio, B. (2012). Graphic Design, Referenced: A Visual Guide to the Language, Applications, and History of Graphic Design. Gloucester: Rockport Publishers. Graphis. (n.d.). Graphis. Retrieved 03 10, 2014, from Haslam, A. (2006). Book Design. London: Laurence King Publishing. Heller, S. (2012). 100 Ideas That Changed Graphic Design. London: Laurence King Publishing. Hollis, R. (2002). Graphic Design: A Concise History. New York: Thames and Hudson.

Ruder, E. (1967). Typographie. Switzerland: Arthur Niggli Ltd. Williams, J. (2012). Type Matters! London New York: Merrell Publishers. Amazon. (n.d.). Amazon. Retrieved 03 12, 2014, from books&ie=UTF8&qid=1394621648&sr=1-1&keywor ds=Typographie%3A+A+Manual+of+Design Heller, S. (2003). Poster Collection . Zurich: Lars MullerPublishers. Ruder, E. (2001). Typographie. Switzerland: Aurther Nigi ltd. Haslam, A. (2010). The Secret Law of Page Harmony. Available: Last accessed 8th Apr 2014. The Grid System. Available: http://www. Last accessed 9th Apr 2014. Gary Hustwit. (2007). Helvetica. [Film]. UK: Swiss Dots Ltd.

Kane, J. (2011). A Type Primer. 2nd ed. London: Laurence King Publishing. Lupton, E. (2010). Thinking With Type: A Critical Guide for Designers, Writers, Editors, and Students. 2nd ed. New York: Pr. Purcell, K.W. (2006). Josef Muller Brockmann. New York: Phaidon Press.






International Style  

A book about International Style design movement. The final project of the first year graphic design course in AUB. For the BA (Hons) Grap...

Read more
Read more
Similar to
Popular now
Just for you