The Swiss Were Good

Those Swiss were deceiving. They said they were creating a language of design simplicity based on fundamental forms, clarity and rational thought. The International Typographic Style that originated in the postwar 1940s and ’50s was the basis of much of the development of graphic design during the mid-20th century. Among its leaders were Josef Müller-Brockmann at the Zurich School of Arts and Crafts and Armin Hofmann at the Basel School of Design, who promoted the Neue Graphik, based on simplicity, legibility and objectivity.

But despite the prevalent use of sans serif typography, grids and asymmetrical layouts and the marriage of typography and photography to emphasize dynamic visual communication, their language nonetheless offered a sublime complexity that transcended the decorative tropes that were so common throughout the late 19th and 20th centuries. Most any student of graphic design history knows this already. Oddly enough, it took me decades to come to a full appreciation of Swiss ingenuity.

 

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The 2017 PRINT RDA: Extended Deadline. Enter Now!

Enter the most respected competition in graphic design—now open to both pros and students—for a chance to have your work published, win a pass to HOW Design Live, and more. 2017 Judges: Aaron Draplin / Jessica Hische / Pum Lefebure / Ellen LuptonEddie OparaPaula Scher. Student work judges: PRINT editorial & creative director Debbie Millman and PRINT editor-in-chief Zachary Petit.

Draplin image: Leah Nash. Hische: Helena Price. Lupton: Michelle Qureshi. Scher: Ian Roberts.

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