In the years following the end of World War II, a new
graphic design style was created in Germany and Switzerland that would become
world renown for its far-reaching impact, longevity and the range of
applications it can be used for. While it is also known as Swiss Style, it is
more formally known as International Typographic Style.
While the International Typography Style we all know and
love was created in the 1950s, its origin goes all the back to 1918, after the
events of World War I, where a professor called Ernst Keller, a teacher at the
Kunstgewerbeschule Zurich, wanted to find a way to teach his students to not
follow a strict set of rules regarding graphic style, rather that the solution
should come from the content they themselves created. What resulted from this
could be seen as an early form of Modern principal of form following function.
During the 1950s, after World War II ended, the style was
refined by Armin Hofmann and Emil Ruder, who went to a design school in Basel,
Switzerland and by Josef Muller-Brockmann of a design school based in Zurich,
Switzerland, all of whom where students of Ernst Keller before the outbreak of World
War II. This style of typography was dominate from the 50s all the way to the
80s, and is still beloved to this day, especially in corporate communications. It
became widely synonymous with the look of many Swiss cultural institutions
where they used posters as advertisement vehicles. It was also used by a wide
variety of post-war marketplaces, where an international identification and
global events, such as the Olympics, called for international solutions, for
which International Typography Style was perfectly suited for.
International Typography Style is known for its simplicity,
readability and objectivity. It follows Sans-Serif typography, grids and
asymmetrical layouts, typography and photography all combined together to
create a sense of visual uniformity. People who criticize the style point out
how it is very formulaic and therefore results in sameness, while advocates for
the style argue that perfection can be achieved for this style because of its
While International Typography Style may not be as popular
or as widely used as it once was in our modern world, it is still a respectable
typographic style that is still in use to this very day. Will it still have a
place among graphic design as it advances into the future? Only time will tell.