International Typographic Style
The Most Influential Design Movement in Contemporary Graphic Design
The International Typographic Style is often also referred to as the Swiss Style. This graphic design style first emerged from Russia, Germany, and the Netherlands with movements like Bauhaus, Suprematism, Constructivism, and De Stijl. However, it was given the signature moniker ‘Swiss style’ due to the expansion, and eventual popularization, of this graphic design trend in Switzerland during the 1950s. Particularly interesting, this design style was able to fully come to fruition within Switzerland due to the country’s neutrality during WWII. Great minds of the west fled their home countries to escape the damages of the war and settled in Switzerland.
Some of the most recognizable characteristics of this style is the strict adherence to grids, clear and legible typography (typically Sans Serif fonts), and an overall simplification of form and color. The style was a direct rejection of the Arts & Crafts and Jugendstil movements that were popular in German and English society during the 19th century. This style was a part of the modernist movement that greatly impacted western societies from the late 19th to the early 20th centuries. The principles of this design style are commonly and widely used in modern graphic design to this day.
This design movement had a tremendous impact on modern graphic design. Most notably, modern typography practices and the popularization (and even standardization) of using grids within modern design. Furthermore, the Swiss style had a lasting impact on the standardization of design principles specifically in the realm of education. Based on my own personal experience, the basis for examining what is a “good design” can be found in the tenants of Swiss style.