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International Style

A Collaborative Kieran James, Sarah Harrison, project between: James Marshall, Ethan Huang, Nishal Gurung, Becky Haskins & Charles Rodriguez.


A look at International Style. A collaberative projects between Kieran James, Sarah Harrison, James Marshall, Ethan Huang, Nishal Gurung, Becky Haskins and Charles Rodriguez. Exploring International and Swiss Style, looking at modernism and what influesnced it and what social influences it has had on our modern day society.


Contents 5 Introduction 6 7 9 11 13

Chapter 1 Start of the movement Historicism Modernism Bauhaus

14 16 17 19

Chapter 2 Le Courbusier Frank Lloyd Wright Miles van der Rohe

20 22 23 25

Chapter 3 Interior Design Furniture Design Walter Gropius

26 28 30 31 33 35

Chapter 4 Josef Muller-Brockmann Emil Ruder Helvetica Grid Structure Max Bill

38 Conclusion



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. This movement began as a reaction to the traditional forms of design, art, music and literature which many believed were becoming outdated in an new economic, social and political environment of an emerging industrialized world. 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 and Mies van der Rohe, graphics designers Joseph Mßller Brockman and Max Bill and furniture designers such as Marcel Breuer and Dieter Rams. This book discusses the emergence and spread of this movement, places it in its cultural, social and political context whilst highlighting the work of the key players.


Le Corbusier Le Corbusier has also proved to be a major influence to International Style. Corbusier was focused on the idea of space, simplicity and modern structural design. Designing his first house in 1907, Corbusier identified three major architectural discoveries; the contrast between space, classical proportion and geometric forms. These principles heavily influence postmodernist architecture today. In 1908, he began his theory of reinforced concrete and industrial production. Pioneering these logical plans and functional styles, Corbusier used the influences of Auguste Perret and Peter Behrens in his design of ‘Maison DomIno’ in 1915. With the layout of this plan being completely independent from the structure of the design, it allowed the mass production of free-standing rigid buildings. Corbusier spent most of his time being encouraged to paint and then later discovered the purist theory. Collaborating with artist Amedee Ozenfant, the concept behind purism itself lead architecture to be fully refined and simplified, it was believed that architecture would end up being as efficient as factory assembled line. From this he was able to express his thoughts thoroughly in his book ‘Vers Une Architecture’; in which Corbusier stated that ‘A house... is a machine for living in’.


Le Corbusier (Swiss, 1887-1965) 1929 Villa Savoye


Max Bill Designer & Architecture 8


Max Bill (Swiss, 1908-1994) 1931 Negerkunst


Max Bill Max Bill was a Swiss artist, architect, and a graphic, typeface and industrial designer, born in Winterthur in 1908. After an apprenticeship as a silversmith during 1924-1927, Bill took up studies at the Bauhaus in Dessau under many teachers including Wassily Kandinsky, Paul Klee and Oskar Schlemmer from 1927 to 1929, after which he moved to Zurich. In 1950, Bill joined the Ulm School of Design (Hochschule für Gestaltung Ulm) which was also called ‘The New Bauhaus’ in Germany. It is the earliest organisation for the preparation of establishing the country and the most important design institution at that time. He was voted to be the president of the school due to his reputation in design field. In the meantime it cancels the difference between work and leisure. Ulm School of Design was closed in 1968. Although it didn’t last for long, Bill’s rational design ideas gradually spread all over the world through the institution and created the foundation of international style in industrial and architectural design field.



Emil Ruder

Emil Ruder is also considered to have played key role in teaching typography and developing Swiss Style. He published a book called ‘Typographie’, which advocates 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. (form, 2011) Through this review what becomes clear is the impact it brings from the negative space and from using grid structures.

Emil Ruder (Swiss, 1914-1970) 1967 Typographie


Helvetica 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. Helvetica is not short of criticism, from designers who see it as a plain, uniform type, which acts almost as a default for designers. Designers like Stefan Sagmeister who see the use of type a an expressive medium. Also David Carson, who feels that the typeface should be reminiscent of the words they are expressing, and he feels like Helvetica doesn‘t do this.



Helvetica and many other popular sans-serif fonts are still used widely today. The most popular web fonts include Helvetica, Akzidenz, Univers and Futura. Mainly because they are all strong readable fonts, which is suitable for virtually any project.


Joesf Muller-Brockmann (Swiss, 1914-1996) 1960. Weniger Larm.


Josef Müller-Brockmann Joseph Muller Brockmann was a key pioneer of Swiss design. Along with Armin Hofmann the pair envisaged to movement to advocate clarity through their structural approach to design. Josef Muller Brockman established his own design studio in Zurich, 1936 whilst most of the Swiss designers had fled to the United States due to the war. He founded ‘Nueue Graphik’ magazine, which involved the principles of Swiss design. At the time he was not just doing one thing but he would design posters, brochures, typefaces, dinnerware, design concert and even stage design. However, in terms of his graphics work what best describes his work is minimalistic; it is very clear and iconic. Here is one of his most recognized works; His use of photography is extremely powerful and memorable; cropping of the motorcycle and seeing the full body of the running child puts you in the situation, it makes you the witness of the incident that’s about to happen. 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.


Initial book layout 2nd draft no guids  
Initial book layout 2nd draft no guids