In my early days at Art School, I remember being struck by Swiss Design. I can safely say that it has to be the main inspiration for many graphic design students all over the world. No wonder this style is also known as 'International Style', like a 'how to' guide.
This style started in Russia, Germany and the Netherlands in the 1920's, style that extends to architecture, art and culture. Swiss Design gave us iconic fonts such as Helvetica, Frutiger, Futura, Akzidenz Grotesk, that are still very much used in graphic design and advertising today.
My first glimpse of Swiss Design was during a History of Art class, when we were learning about Joseph Müller-Brockmann, one of the most well-known Swiss designers and pioneers of the movement. As with many Swiss artists his influence digs deep into Constructivism, De-Stijl and the Bauhaus.
He wrote books about his work and philosophy, which are considered bibles for every young graphic design student. I found their use of the font daring and powerful. There is a structure in the deconstruction.
The Swiss style has always appealed to me, clean, precise, using grid and favouring text over illustration or photography. It is the 'little black dress' of design, understated, effortlessly chic and minimalist. It may be OCD but there is something comforting about the alignment, the structure and a small palette of colours.
These guys knew how to use white spaces like no one else! It seems that nowadays we're scared of these spaces, filling them as much as we can.
Although Swiss Design has never been out of fashion, it is back with a bang. It's not uncommon to hear in a studio someone say "It's very Swiss". It is very interesting to see designers use the Swiss inspiration in their creations, big bold typography, a solid grid and few colours. This style has been thoroughly used in packaging for many years and more recently in web design.
It looks like this revival is striking again in the music industry with artwork covers and posters using the very same codes. Here is a great example of how Swiss Design is interpreted for different music genres and demonstrates the timelessness of the genre.
Long live Swiss Design!
18 March 2013