The so called Swiss Style had a serious impact on the history of modernist design, and it dates back as early as the 1920s and ‘30s. The style originated with graphic artists who were thinking in a whole new way, seeing design as something that could be linked to industrial production rather than fine art. They started looking for ways to make visual communication both anonymous and objective, which lead to the increased use of photographs over illustrations, as well as a typography moving away from the style of books to a more industrial and harder looking typeface.
In the 19th century, design started separating from fine art, and broke off as a discipline of its own. This is where the International Typographic Style also known as Swiss Style, was born. This style uses a grid-based design, often an asymmetrical layout and as mentioned above, favours photographs over other types of illustration. Another important innovation born from the Swiss style is the use of typefaces that do not have small lines at the ends of characters. These typefaces are called sans serif and differ greatly from the popular typefaces of the 19th century, which were decorative and elaborate.
Simplicity and readability
The Swiss Style is above all simplistic and clean. The typefaces are very readable, and there are no frills or unnecessary elaborations added to the design. This was a way for the designer to be able to convey information without adding intentional or unintentional meaning to the design piece. This was a large step away from the works of the past, where many artists were working under the principle of “beauty for the sake of beauty”. The use of geometrical shapes and strong colours helped the graphic designers create a visual that was purely objective, helping shift focus on the information presented in the strong and readable typeface. This focus on readability and objectivity also helped the style gain popularity after World War II, as international relations began to grow stronger. The use of clear and region-less symbols and fonts meant that the communication between countries, continents and regions became easier and more fluent, and this had a great impact on the rise in popularity of the Swiss Style typography.