How it Works: Swiss Design in Brazil
Who really inspired the movement? Can we even know?​​​​​​​
Design students are asked to examine and contemplate the great movements (like Cubism!) and their famous originators (Pablo!) as they pursue their studies. But the origins of the design, and their messy influence aren’t completely honored in today’s textbooks.
Today, we examine how Swiss Design traveled to Brazil to illustrate something all designers ask themselves every day:
Where did this really come from?
What’s Swiss Design?
Swiss Design or International Typographic Style was popularized in the 1950s but its technical rules were already in practice as early as the 1920s.
The style emerged after WWII when international trade increased and relations between countries grew stronger. It was often the case that designs had to accommodate multiple languages and be printed cheap and fast.
The core qualities of Swiss Design include:
• Asymmetric layouts
• Grid-based design
• Use of sans-serif fonts (Helvetica, Akzidenz Grotesk)
• Text aligned flush left, ragged right
• Use of photography, rather than illustration
Pioneers of the movement included Ernst Keller, Max Bill, and Max Huber. They were succeeded by Armin Hofmann and Josef Müller-Brockmann who are credited with popularizing the movement.
Hofmann taught at a school in Basel while Müller-Brockmann taught at a school in Zürich. Two birds of a feather, but not so sure they would flock together.

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