• Naomi Maycock

Swiss Style & Grid Systems


What is Swiss Style & Grid Systems?

The development of the Swiss Style was monumental in the history of graphic design. Swiss Style allowed for emphasis on the possible emotional components which could be found in design. Particular attention was paid to the areas by which typography can meld meaning. This involved dropping serifs as ornamentation in the case of fonts. The idea was that fonts could deliver messages while being unaffected by stylization. The well-known font, Helvetica, came about as a result of this way of thinking.


Why do we use Swiss Style & Grid Systems?

Grid systems can help the artist to adhere to principles and elements which require a considerable amount of organization. The method allows for there to be rules to adhere to yet work within. In other words, grids are not a crutch to the designer they are meant to be used in conjunction with whatever the designer creates by their integrity. A designer should be flexible and only look to it when grids help the work to convey a message. Grids can be developed to work as a framework that is integrated into the rest of the work it is a part of.


How did Swiss Style Get Started?

The early 20th century was a time when grids were designers’ subjects of experimentation. At this time, there were a variety of Avant-Garde designers who worked through or had been influenced by movements such as Bauhaus and De Stijl. These designers had begun to experiment with the layout in a particularly unique fashion. An example of this is seen when Jan Tschichold and Josef Müller-Brockmann worked to develop new grid systems which came in the form of sparing, typographic layouts, and poster designs. Müller-Brockmann, in particular, worked to push the limits on the use of grids.


Where can you see Swiss Style now?

The development of the Swiss Style was monumental in the history of graphic design. Swiss Style allowed for emphasis on the possible emotional components which could be found in design. Particular attention was paid to the areas by which typography can meld meaning. This involved dropping serifs as ornamentation in the case of fonts. The idea was that fonts could deliver messages while being unaffected by stylization. The well-known font, Helvetica, came about as a result of this way of thinking.

Image via wnyc.org
New York City Subway uses Helvetica Font: Image via wnyc.org

If you want to learn more about Swiss Style:

Müller-Brockmann was one of the main influences in the Swiss Style movement. He worked beyond the limits of grids and created both modular and rotated grid systems. He published a handbook titled, Grid Systems in Graphic Design. This book represents the insights gained by Müller-Brockmann through his experience in the field of graphic design.


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