Swiss Style

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Also known as the International Typographic Style, the Swiss Style was an extension of Bauhaus principles developed mainly in Zurich and Basle in the period leading up to the Second World War. Key figures in the evolution of the Style included Ernst Keller, Theo Ballmer, Max Bill, and Max Huber, all of whom were familiar with the avant‐garde ideals of De Stijl, Constructivism, and the New Typography (See Tschichold, Jan) of the interwar years. The rational characteristics of the Style were its use of sans serif typography (especially the Helvetica and Univers typefaces), text set in narrow columns with a rigid left‐hand margin and unjustified right. This austere, geometrically conceived, and rational outlook was further defined by its use of photography rather than hand‐drawn illustrations. Swiss neutrality during the war had allowed these design principles to develop uninterrupted and it became increasingly adopted in design‐conscious circles internationally in the 1950s, 1960s, and 1970s. Its influence was widely disseminated through the Swiss‐based journal New Graphic Design (1958–65), edited by Josef Müller‐Brockmann, Hans Neuburg, Carlos Vivarelli, and Richarde Lohse, and its layout was consonant with the design principles that its contributors espoused, a visual embodiment of the corporate aesthetic of many multinationals in the United States. This came under attack from a new generation of typographers identified with New Wave Design (See New Design) who sought to counter the rigidity of the Swiss Style with a more expressive, intuitive style linked to the tenets of Postmodernism. These included Wolfgang Weingart in Basle, April Greimann in the United States, Neville Brody in Britain, Studio Dumbar in Holland, and Javier Mariscal in Spain.

Subjects: Industrial and Commercial Art.

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