A new graphic
design style emerged in Switzerland in the 1950s that would become
the predominant graphic style in the world by the ‘70s. Because
of its strong reliance on typographic elements, the new style came
to be known as the International Typographic Style.
The style was
marked by: 1.) the use of a mathematical grid to provide an overall
orderly and unified structure; 2.) sans serif typefaces (especially
Helvetica, introduced in 1961) in a flush left and ragged right
format; and 3.) black and white photography in place of drawn illustration.
The overall impression was simple and rational, tightly structured
and serious, clear and objective, and harmonious.
The style was
refined at two design schools in Switzerland, one in Basel led by
Armin Hofmann and Emil Ruder, and the other in Zurich under the
leadership of Joseph Muller-Brockmann. All had studied with Ernst
Keller at the Zurich School of Design before WWII, where the principles
of the Bauhaus and Jan Tschichold’s New Typography were taught.
new style became widely synonymous with the "look" of
many Swiss cultural institutions which used posters as advertising
vehicles. Hofmann’s series for the Basel State Theater and
Muller-Brockmann’s for Zurich’s Tonhalle are two of
the most famous. Hofmann’s accentuation of contrasts between
various design elements and Muller-Brockmann’s exploration
of rhythm and tempo in visual form are high notes in the evolution
of the style.
addition, the new style was perfectly suited to the increasingly
global postwar marketplace. Corporations needed international identification
and global events such as the Olympics called for universal solutions
which the Typographic Style could provide. With such good teachers
and proselytizers, the use of the International Typographic Style
spread rapidly throughout the world. In the U.S., Hofmann’s
Basel design school established a link with the Yale School of Design,
which became the leading American center for the new style. internationalposter.com/IntTypoStyle_Text.htm