Josef Müller-Brockmann

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Graphiq Magazine Issue 2 Leader of the Swiss style

Josef MüllerBrockmann

Graphiq Magazine Josef Müller-Brockmann

Josef Müller-Brockmann

The 1950s saw the emergence of the Swiss style of design in Switzerland and Germany, considered by many as the most important and revolutionary movement in graphic design history. Leading this movement, with his deftly simple designs and neat typography, was legenary graphic designer, Josef Müller-Brockmann (Seddin, 2015). Josef Müller-Brockmann was born in 1914 in Rapperswil, Switzerland. He studied design and architecture at highly esteemed academies including the University of Zurich and the School of Arts and Crafts in Zurich. Müller-Brockmann began his design career working with designer, Walter Diggleman as an apprentice. Once he had gained experience in the field of design, he opened a studio in Zurich in 1936. Müller-Brockmann worked as graphic design educator from 1957 to 1960 at the Kunstgewerbeschule (School of Arts and Crafts) in Zurich and later taught at the Hochschule fur Gestaltung (School of Design) in Ulm and the University of Osaka (SchwemerScheddin, 1995). Portrait of Josef Müller-Brockmann. (n.d.).


Graphiq Magazine Josef Müller-Brockmann

During a time of societal change, as many were rebuilding from the devastation of the second world war, many designers began to question conventional graphic design, experimenting with typography and photomontage. MüllerBrockmann released some of his most famed work during this period. Among these were his series of Musica Viva poster designs for the Zurich Tonhalle (Novin, 2011).

These works clearly display his influence from Constructivism, De Stijl and Bauhaus movements, made clear through their sparing use of colour and simple geometric shapes following a strict mathematical grid. Müller-Brockmann reinforces the intention for his work to communicate information in an intense and expressive way through this visual aesthetic (, n.d.).

Musica Viva 1958 (Müller-Brockmann, 1958)

Musica Viva 1959 (Müller-Brockmann, 1959)


Graphiq Magazine Josef Müller-Brockmann

“The grid system is an aid, not a guarantee. It permits a number of possible uses and each designer can look for a solution appropriate to his personal style.” – Josef Müller-Brockmann

Grid Systems in Graphic Design (Müller-Brockmann, 1981)

Müller-Brockmann has authored a series of books detailing his findings and philosophies on graphic design including, The Graphic Artist and his Design Problems (1961), History of Visual Communication (1971) and Grid Systems in Graphic Design (1981) (Schwemer-Scheddin, 1995). He was the founder and co-editor of the trilingual journal ‘Neue Grafik (New Graphic Design)’, publishing eighteen issues between 1958 and 1965. The journal presented the fundamental principles and foundation of Swiss design and spread them internationally (Lars Müller Publishers, n.d.).

References (n.d.). Josef Müller-Brockmann. Retrieved from: Lars Müller Publishers. (n.d.). Neue Grafik/New Graphic Design/Graphisme Actuel 1958-1965. Retrieved from: Müller-Brockmann, J. (1981). Grid Systems in Graphic Design [Image]. Retrieved from: Müller-Brockmann, J. (1958). Musica Viva 1958 [Image of poster]. Retrieved from: Müller-Brockmann, J. (1959). Musica Viva 1959 [Image of poster]. Retrieved from: Novin, G. (2011). Chapter 42; The Swiss Grid System - and the Dutch Total Grid. Retrieved from: Portrait of Josef Müller-Brockmann. (n.d.). [Image] Retrieved from: Schwemer-Scheddin, Y. (1995). Reputations: Josef Müller-Brockmann. Retrieved from:


Seddin, T. (2015). The International Typographic Style: A Brief History. Retrieved from:

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