Designer of the Canon: A Case Study of Swiss Graphic Design Historiography and Tastemaking

Lzicar, Robert; Unger, Amanda (2014). Designer of the Canon: A Case Study of Swiss Graphic Design Historiography and Tastemaking In: 9th Conference of ICDHS – Tradition, Transition, Trajectories: major or minor influences?.

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Switzerland has a notable impact on the development of the historiography of graphic design and design criticism in the second half of the 20th century. This reputation rests on two facts: that it has been the place of publication of some important articles and books and, that a number of Swiss graphic designers were equally prolific as editors and authors. Therefore, publications served as the predominant format for the presentation of approaches to graphic design, through the selection and arrangement of artefacts, which resulted in historical narratives. The success of the Swiss Style and its widespread successor, the International Typographic Style, fostered an international interest in the historiographical activities by its key representatives such as Karl Gerstner and Josef Müller-Brockmann. Some writers argue that they created narrative structures by “singling out individual designers and works” (Scotford 1991). These narratives are said to serve as a conceptual model for a number of subsequent design histories and lay the foundation for graphic design history as a field of research (Drucker 2009). Against this backdrop, this paper reconstructs the trajectory of two posters designed by renowned Swiss graphic designer, author and teacher Josef Müller-Brockmann, within selected publications created in Switzerland between 1958 and today. By critically examining the visual and textual narratives accompanying “Schützt das Kind!” (1953) and “Weniger Lärm” (1960), it presents their introduction in and their continuously gaining significance within the canons of the Swiss Style and the International Typographic Style. Furthermore, it traces the impact of Müller-Brockmann’s multiple roles as a designer, editor, critic and historian, as well as a tastemaker.

Item Type:

Conference or Workshop Item (Paper)


Bern Academy of the Arts
Bern Academy of the Arts > Institute of Design Research


Lzicar, Robert0000-0002-8212-5661 and
Unger, Amanda


D History General and Old World > D History (General) > D839 Post-war History, 1945 on
N Fine Arts > NC Drawing Design Illustration




[63] Mapping Graphic Design History in Switzerland Official URL




Robert Lzicar

Date Deposited:

20 Feb 2020 09:26

Last Modified:

06 Sep 2021 16:06




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