The ‘International Typographic Style’ also know as the ‘Swiss Style’ is a graphic design style developed in Switzerland, Europe in the 1950s that values and focuses on Cleanliness, Readability, and Objectivity.
Typical features of the style are Asymmetric Layouts, Use of Sans-Serif Typefaces, Flush Left and Ragged Right Text. Many of the early International Typographic Style works featured ‘Typography’ as a primary design element, which means they focused more on typography because it’s the root of communication and then pictures, other design elements come as a secondary design elements and this is the reason the title ‘International Typographic Style’ has the word ‘Typography’ with it.
These are some of the key events and people that helped in the development of this International Typographic Style.
1. Akzidenz Grotesk, The Typeface (1896)
Akzidenz-Grotesk is a sans-serif typeface (the typefaces which do not use serifs, which means that these typefaces do not have tails on the end of their characters) originally released by the H. Berthold AG type foundry in 1896 under the title Akzidenz-Grotesk. It was the first sans-serif typeface to be widely used and it influenced many Neo-Grotesque typefaces later on.
Akzidenz means a ‘commercial’ typeface for trade printing such as publicity, tickets, and forms, as opposed to typefaces intended for decorative or book use.
The typeface is one of the major events which helped in the development of International Typographic Style because Max Miedinger at the Haas Foundry used it as an example to design another typeface ‘Neue Haas Grotesk’ released in 1957 which was renamed as ‘Helvetica’ in 1960, and it was a huge success. Meidinger sought to refine the typeface by making it more even, unified and neutral. There were two other releases from 1957, Adrian Frutiger’s Univers & Bauer and Baum’s Folio, which also took the inspiration from Akzidenz-Grotesk.
2. De Stijl, The Movement (1917–1931)
De Stijl also known as neoplasticism (a style of abstract painting developed by Piet Mondrian, using only vertical and horizontal lines and rectangular shapes in black, white, grey, and primary colors.) was a Dutch artistic movement founded in 1917 in Leiden. The termDe Stijl is used to refer to a body of work from 1917 to 1931 found in the Netherlands
Proponents of De Stijl sought to express a new Utopian (aiming for a state in which everything is perfect)ideal of spiritual harmony and order.
They advocated pure abstraction and universality by a reduction to the essentials of Form and Color, they simplified visual compositions to the vertical and horizontal directions and used only primary colors with black and white.
De Stijl designers wanted something new, they felt the need of redefining the art, to bring it back to its essence and give a new set of rules & principles. They said that “Art is all line and color” and to express this relationship through the pure language of abstraction. They wanted not only to bring about a new art but to create a broad-based art for an entirely new, modern society. De Stijl wasn’t limited only to painting but they also focused on the transformation of interior design, typography, graphic art and architecture. De Stijl had a major influence on Bauhaus in Germany and on much modern art through the 20th century, and this is the reason it comes in the events of ‘International Typographic Style.’
Key figures in De Stijl movement were — Theo van Doesburg, painters Piet Mondrian, Vilmos Huszar, and Bart van der Leck and architects Gerrit Rietveld, Robert van ‘t Hoff, and J.J.P. Oud.
3. Bauhaus, The School (1919–1933)
Staatliches Bauhaus commonly known as Bauhaus was a school in Germany which operated from 1919 to 1933 that combined crafts and the fine arts and was known for its design approach that it publicized and taught. The Bauhaus school was founded by Walter Gropius in Weimar. It had an intense influence on subsequent developments in Art, Architecture, Graphic Design, Interior Design, Industrial Design, and Typography.
The Bauhaus style was also known as the International Style which became one of the most influential currents in Modernist architecture and Modern Design. It was marked by the absence of ornamentation and by the harmony between the function of an object or a building and its design. The Bauhaus had a major impact on design trends in Western Europe, the United States, Canada, and Israel in the decades following its demise and that’s why it is the most important part of this ‘International Typographic Style’.
The courses at Bauhaus encouraged students to incorporate technology into their designs, as well as emphasizing the need to create a design that could be mass-produced. This is what led to the utilitarian-style design typically attributed to the Bauhaus movement. Using ‘Form follows Function’, students were taught to make everyday objects more beautiful, while still being accessible. In all, the Bauhaus movement believed ‘Less is More’, in everything from colors to furniture to teapots to architecture.
The school existed in three German cities: Weimar from 1919 to 1925, Dessau from 1925 to 1932 and Berlin from 1932 to 1933, under three different architect-directors: Walter Gropius from 1919 to 1928, Hannes Meyer from 1928 to 1930 and Ludwig Mies van der Rohe from 1930 until 1933. When the school was closed by its own leadership under pressure from the Nazi regime, having been painted as a center of communist intellectualism. Although the school was closed, the staff continued to spread its idealistic precepts as they left Germany and emigrated all over the world.
Following are the some of Projects at Bauhaus School:-
4. Josef Müller-Brockmann, The Designer (1914-1996)
Josef Müller-Brockmann (May 9, 1914 — August 30, 1996) was a Swiss Graphic Designer and a Teacher. He studied Architecture, Design, and History of Art at Kunstgewerbeschule School in Zurich.
In 1936 he opened his Zurich studio specializing in Graphic design, Exhibition Design, and Photography.
Müller-Brockman is the author of “The Graphic Artist and his Design Problems”, “Grid Systems in Graphic Design”, the publications “History of the Poster” and “A History of Visual Communication”.
He is recognized for his simple designs and his clean use of typography, notably Helvetica, shapes and colors which inspires many graphic designers in the 21st century and also made him precursors of the International Typographic Style.
5. Graphis, The Publications (1944)
Graphis, The International Journal of Visual Communication, was first published in 1944 by Walter Herdeg in Zurich, Switzerland.
Graphis Inc. is the international publisher of books and magazines on communication design, advertising, photography, annual reports, posters, logos, packaging, book design, brochures, corporate identity, letterhead, interactive design and other design associated with graphic arts. Graphis was (and still is) one of the most important and influential European graphic design publication. In 1986, B. Martin Pedersen purchased the company from Mr. Herdeg and later moved the headquarters to New York City.
6. Max Bill, The Designer (1908 – 1994)
Max Bill (December 22, 1908 — December 9, 1994) was a Swiss architect, artist, painter, typeface designer, and graphic designer. After an apprenticeship as a silversmith during 1924–1927. Bill took up studies at the Bauhaus in Dessau. From 1937 onwards he was a prime mover behind the Allianz group of Swiss artists.
In 1944, he became a professor at the school of arts in Zurich. In 1953, he, Inge Aicher-Scholl and Otl Aicher founded the Hochschule für Gestaltung in Ulm, Germany, a design school in the tradition of the Bauhaus. The school is notable for its inclusion of semiotics as a field of study. The school closed in 1968.