Swiss Style

On friday it was my turn to hold the group discusion and my topid was swiss style typography. I started off giving a presentation which is shown below:

Jan Tchichold powerpoint

After this we had a class discusion and thought about the question ‘What did Jan Tchichold do to make him reject traditional typography at the time?

  • We thought that it was interesting how Jan Tschichold changed his style as a result of the Bauhaus Exhibition, which gives the Bauhaus similar principles to the Swiss Style has the Bauhaus had principles of being clean, well structured and stripped back – they designed objects that could easily function. The use of geometric shapes, simple colours sent a message which we thought was the first time we had seen this kind of design to make a social statement around the same era.
  • Swiss style started in the 1920s and applied to typeface which we thought this meant that typeface could be easily used everydat in a legibe way.  The Swiss style because Internation style when the principles spread all over the world in 1950s. Typefaces were cleaned up and simplified by using a much more sans-serif design. 
  • The style that Jan Tschichold created used a lot of grids, lines and shapes – it used an asymmetric grid with aligned left/ragged right text. He however reverted to use centred text much later on in the 1950s. As well as the type being placed different to posters in the same era the designers used a lot of red, black and white bold colour in their designs which made them eye catching to the audience
  • Going back to the question in hand, Jan Tschichold got rejected by the Nazis’ and he was arrested but then eventually he was released and moved to Switzerland. This was impartial and a neutral country during the wars, and made out to be the ideal place for artists to work and flunt their creations. Later on Jan Tschichold took his creations to England and worked for Penguin books redesigning how they used the typeface. As a result he made the publishers promise to keep the designs how he wanted them – using a grid with line, type, line as the front cover.
  • As the designs of Internation/ Swiss style got bigger business’ started using typeface more than they had before for such projects as advertising and posters, this was thought to be ‘Form Over Function’ where it mattered more to the designer that the message was put across to the audience then the overall design looking creative.
  • Going back to the grid like designs Josef Muller-Brockmann was responsible for the start of the grid system which was ahead of his time which gave out a modern approach. This has given off the feeling that after the war this was an opportunity to change design.
  • The 1950s was thought to be remembered for the music and popular culture which infulenced designers, especially pop art style which developed alot during. This could of also been some infulences of the Internation style designers where the bold colours contrasted with the subject of music.

At the end of the lesson we thought about the following

Important parts

  • How the swiss style was developed over time into the Internation style
  • It marked the start of change in modernism
  • How the typography changed thoughout the years


  • Jan Tchichold
  • Joseph Muller Brockman

What was swiss style?

  • Development of internation style
  • Changed towards modernism
  • development of typefaces
  • Asymmetrical, block colours, TYPOGRAPHY
  • Used in an informative way – everyday
  • Legible over image


  • Russion Constructivism
  • Bauhaus – took principle of the Bauhaus and applied it to typography
  • symplicity
  • Pop art developed after
  • Got to britian by Pengiun books

What was happening at the time?

  • 1950s music
  • End of the war in 1920s
  • Nazi’s gaining support
  • Bauhaus exhibition

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