The International Typographic Style was a design style developed in the 1920s in countries such as Germany, The Netherlands and Russia, and bear elements & influences of Bauhaus, De Stijl, Constructivism, Suprematism and the New Typography of earlier years. It was expanded upon further by Swiss designers in the 1950s with hallmarks like a mathematically-based grid system, asymmetric layouts and sans serif type set in a ragged-right manner. It’s creators sought to present information free of bias and meaning beyond the content of the text displayed. International Typographic Style stems from the works of 2 major Swiss schools, Basel School of Design and the Zurich School of Arts and Krafts, leading, with further development in the 1950s, to the style also being called “Swiss Style”. This design style is still currently in use today by designers around the globe.


Big MullerBrockmann Headshot
Max Bill

Max Bill

Emil Ruder

Emil Ruder

Armin Hofmann

Armin Hofmann

NEUE GRAFIK

Neue Grafik book cover

Neue Grafik, the “International Review of graphic design and related subjects”, was initiated by Josef Müller-Brockmann and published in eighteen issues between 1958 and 1965 by a collective of designers and writers. This publication established and propagated the tenets of the International Typographic Style, establishing it as a true graphic design movement.

The spirit of a more progressive age is how ITS has been described by some, and, in the words of Josef Müller-Brockmann, co-editor of the periodical New Graphic Design, sought an absolute and universal form of graphic expression through objective and impersonal presentation, communicating to the audience without the interference of the designer’s subjective feelings or propagandist techniques of persuasion. Ernst Keller is referred to as the father of Swiss Style, fundamentally because many of his students went on to develop and create the movement, but his poster work also displays of the roots of the movement. Müller-Brockmann was a major contributor to the development of ITS, mixing the sparse design style with high-contrast photography. Along with designer Armin Hofmann at the Basel School of Design, they favored simplicity, legibility and objectivity as their basic tenets of design, with the goal of communication above all else. Emil Ruder helped Hofmann develop the Basel School, and the basis of ITS, and taught that above all, typography’s purpose was to communicate ideas through writing. Notable in this group of ITS practitioners is Adrian Frutiger, typeface designer and developer of the font, Univers. He is one of only a few typographers whose career spans across hot metal, photographic and digital typesetting.

Müller-Brockmann’s periodical, New Graphic Design was distributed internationally, and the ITS movement spread, not notably to Ulm, Germany, where designers Max Bill and Oti Aicher opened their own school to further develop the style. Bill is considered by many to be the most “decisive influence on Swiss graphic design”, and his course on semiotics, study of signs and symbols, helped to cement the influence of the movement across the world.

Data and images retrieved from:
Meggs, P., Purvis, A. Meggs' History of Graphic Design. (2016)
http://www.designishistory.com/home/swiss/
http://www.designishistory.com/1940/joseph-mueller-brockmann/
http://admirabledesign.com/?p=7769

https://www.moma.org/collection/works/6716?artist_id=3041&locale=en&page=1&sov_referrer=artist
https://alchetron.com/Armin-Hofmann
https://www.famousgraphicdesigners.org/emil-ruder

Muller-Brockmann Zurich Town Hall Poster Black & White Muller-Brockmann Grafik Magazine Poster Muller-Brockmann Beethoven Poster
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