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Swiss Graphic Design: The Origins and Growth of an International Style, 1920-1965 Hardcover – April 28, 2006

4.8 out of 5 stars 8 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Richard Hollis is a graphic designer and scholar of design. His previous books include Graphic Design: A Concise History (2002).
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Yale University Press; 1St Edition edition (April 28, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0300106769
  • ISBN-13: 978-0300106763
  • Product Dimensions: 10.9 x 8.6 x 1.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.8 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,227,193 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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By Kenneth J. Hiebert on March 1, 2007
Format: Hardcover
Hollis's book, while extensive in its documentation and admirable in its visual organization of the Swiss developments, comes to several conclusions which should be questioned. The first is the disproportionate and misguided prominence afforded Theo Ballmer as a prime influence stemming from his experience at the Bauhaus. Whatever Ballmer's influence as a poster designer in the 20s was, he had gotten his essential training in the Basel school, which underwent its own ongoing and largely independent modernist development, prior to Ballmer's very brief time at the Bauhaus. The Bauhaus influence is deemed minor by the emerging Basel school, and Ballmer's later influence in teaching photography and lettering has to be considered a lesser one.

Significant also is the confusion in reporting influences in development of the cutting edge Geigy Pharmaceuticals graphics program where the influences of Armin Hofmann and Emil Ruder as educators of the leading Geigy designers are missing. While this is inferred on page 162 in the statement that "the Geigy style originated in the teaching at the Allgemeine Gewerbeschule," the key influences in Basel--Hofmann and Ruder--are not mentioned.

Similarly, Hollis attributes Müller-Brockman's "conversion" to the influences of Lohse and Vivarelli, the evidence being the concert hall posters of 1951 and 52. While this is definitely a move in that direction from an earlier illustrative style, the most convincing change, and the style by which Müller-Brockman is widely known, emerged on the hiring of graduates of the Basel school under Armin Hofmann in 1955. This means that Hofmann and Ruder pre-date Müller-Brockman's mature style instead of being placed as p.
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Format: Hardcover
The 'Swiss style' comes alive in this fascinating and very comprehensive study. If you design for print and ever wondered how some everyday graphic principles and typefaces originated the answer is in these pages. The story begins in twenties central Europe with a merging of modern art, the Bauhaus, Russian constructivism, craft printing techniques, photography and strong cultural attitudes in German speaking Zurich. All of these influences produced a graphic language of simplicity and directness that spread across Switzerland and one would expect nothing less from a country associated with order and precision.

Interesting as the text is I was particularly impressed with the several hundred illustrations (all with extensive captions) and as this is a book about a visual style and basically a printed one the choice of posters, examples of typography and many spreads from brochures, magazines, books all work well to complement the words.

I was interested in the several pages devoted to the magazine 'Neue Grafik' (New Graphic Design) which was the flagship publication of the Zurich modernists. It only ran for seventeen issues (from 1958 to a double issue seventeen and eighteen in 1965) but was really the only opportunity for designers outside Switzerland to see what was going on. Strangely, despite the design aiming for clarity, reading the issues was a bit of a chore. Three languages were set in each edition in one typeface and one size with paragraphs stretching sometimes to hundreds of words with no par indents or line space. However each spread looked fresh and lively thanks to the publication's grid.

I think it is worth commenting on the book's production.
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Format: Hardcover
Una magnífica edición. Muchas imágenes, alguna un poco pequeña - para el tipo de imagen, se echa en falta quizá alguna imagen de detalle o incluso un encarte -, pero en líneas generales muy buena selección, y cantidad de imágenes.

Los contenidos interesantes, por tratarse de una generación histórica en el diseño gráfico universal. Es un libro muy recomendable.
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Format: Hardcover
I decided to purchase this book after watching the Helvetica DVD and was so inspired by Swiss design, I had to check out this book. I was not disappointed, pages of full colour images, and detailed explanations about the artwork and the designers intended communication. Fantastic resource for graphic design students!
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