From Russia With Love
With roots in Russia, the Swiss Style was a modernist graphic movement that sought to express messages in an easily understood and straightforward manner. In 1918, Ernst Keller developed a design and typography course at the Zurich School of the Applied Arts based on the new idea that “the solution to the design problem should emerge from its content.” Keller carried out his “form-follows-function” philosophy with simple geometric forms, vibrant colors and evocative imagery.
Back in my New York City days as a graphic design student, we focused on the Swiss Style. I was taught to design within a strict system of grids, sans serif fonts, and flat colors. It made logical sense, but after an entire semester of using nothing but the Swiss Style Helvetica, I didn’t go near that font for 20 years!
I was fortunate back then to score a summer internship in Lausanne, Switzerland, where I worked under the Hungarian-born, and very meticulous art director, Gabor Halmos. Gabor took the Swiss Style to an elevated, understated, and very elegant place. It gave me an appreciation for the white space and clean design that distinguishes our “Clarity By Design” style.
The Swiss Style, with its clean and simple lines, leaves room for playfulness and for surprises that would otherwise go unnoticed. It is “classic” in every sense. Which brings us to the attached examples of the style from “The Swiss Were Good,” a recent blog from the ever-insightful Steven Heller. Yes, Steven, they were good!