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September 28, 2017 - Comments Off on THE INFLUENCE​ ​OF​ ​SWISS​ ​GRAPHIC​ ​DESIGN



Photographed by: Laura Jaye

Swiss Style, one of the most influential graphic design movements of the twentieth century, has been so widely integrated into modern advertising, it’s easy to forget the fundamental elements originate nearly 100 years ago, back to the 1920’s. Beginning in Russia, developing in Switzerland and finally taking off around the world, the Swiss Style movement became so incorporated around the world, it later became known as the International Style. My recent travels through Switzerland have shown me just how the nearly 100-year-old design movement is still influencing advertising today.

All throughout Geneva, I began to notice the vibrantly colored ads and posters strewn throughout the city. These designs are certainly an influence of Swiss Style’s most dynamic element: using vibrant, bold colors to capture attention. I can only imagine how shocking these colors would have been in the years after World War II, especially when compared to the muted colors of the pre-war advertisements.

The combination of saturated bold colors with oversized forms give the ads a larger-than-life presence. Even when I think of most user-friendly websites, oversized dynamic photography is a recognizable influence of Swiss Style’s bold characteristics.

In graphic design, the use of a grid to layout signage and ads today may seem overused, but it still remains the most revolutionary idea from the Swiss Style. It’s easy to see why. Formatting advertisements using a grid layout is so versatile it can be used around the world - in different languages and cultures - without appearing redundant. The most important information is given hierarchy by using a larger font and priority placement; making it easier to grasp the general message quickly. While I travel from the French region of Switzerland to the German region, the language changes, but many of the signs and ads are still formatted using this universal grid layout.

While the bold colors and standardized grid layout are key elements of Swiss Style, the most revolutionary idea is the minimalist approach to displaying information. The “less is more” concept is an integral part of the minimalist approach to advertising. By simplifying or removing busy patterns from ads, it gives the overall appearance of ‘breathing space’. One of the consequences of simplifying was the enthusiastic interest in typography and consequently the change from serif to sans-serif typeface. Customizing a sans-serif typeface became a prominent feature of many brand identities during the 1950’s and it was during this time that many of the most popular fonts today, such as Helvetica and Univers, were produced.

Exploring Switzerland from Geneva to Zürich, I have come to appreciate the significance of a universal, stylized graphic language to unite a country’s many cultural differences. Swiss Style produced some of the most revolutionary advertising practices that continue today and I don’t believe many other graphic movements since have had such an influence on
present-day advertising.