Richard Hollis
Yale University Press, New Haven, CT, 2006, English
Nonfiction, Graphic Design
ISBN: 9780300106763

From the Publisher. Swiss graphic design and “the Swiss Style” are crucial elements in the history of modernism. During the 1920s and ’30s, skills traditionally associated with Swiss industry, particularly pharmaceuticals and mechanical engineering, were matched by those of the country’s graphic designers, who produced their advertising and technical literature. These pioneering graphic artists saw design as part of industrial production and searched for anonymous, objective visual communication. They chose photographic images rather than illustration, and typefaces that were industrial-looking rather than those designed for books.

Written by noted design authority Richard Hollis, this lavishly illustrated volume looks at the uniquely clear graphic language developed by such Swiss designers as Theo Ballmer, Max Bill, Adrian Frutiger, Karl Gerstner, Armin Hoffman, Ernst Keller, Herbert Matter, Josef Müller-Brockmann, and Jan Tschichold. The style of these artists received worldwide admiration for its formal discipline: images and text were organized by geometrical grids. Adopted internationally, the grid and sans serif typefaces such as Helvetica became the classic emblems of Swiss graphic design.

Showcasing design work across a range of media, including posters, magazines, exhibition displays, brochures, advertisements, books, and film, this essential book shows how many of the Swiss designers’ modernist elements remain an indispensable part of today’s graphic language.

On 2 book lists
Angus Hyland

The ultimate history.

Rick Poynor

Designer turned historian Richard Hollis is the author of a very useful concise history of graphic design. I might have included that here, but instead I want to recommend his history of Swiss graphic design (2006). It’s an important study illustrated with many significant works that also exemplifies Hollis’s approach to design. The main text is in bold, often in a central column, with reference pictures and extended captions running in parallel along either side. The pages are dense with information, but retain a sense of precision and clarity. It’s a book that could probably only have been conceived by an author who is also the designer.

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