Exporting Swissness: Swiss traditions and visual stereotypes in contemporary graphic design

Lzicar, Robert; Zeller, Sara (2016). Exporting Swissness: Swiss traditions and visual stereotypes in contemporary graphic design In: 10th Conference of ICHDS – Making Trans/National Contemporary Design History (pp. 110-115). Blucher Proceedings 10.5151/despro-icdhs2016-023.

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“Swissness” is a label established in the 1990s to brand products and services made in Switzerland. Until today it is associated with values such as quality, accuracy, reliability and heritage. It has since expanded to encompass political and cultural issues. According to that development, visual references to “Swissness” can not only be found in product or tourist advertisements but also in recently designed posters in the field of culture. In contrast to the market-oriented patriotism promoted by traditional definitions of Swissness, these artefacts contribute to alternative images of Swiss national identity and disseminate them through graphic design exhibitions all over the world. This becomes particularly relevant as Swiss graphic design and typography has recently been announced as candidate for the UNESCO list of Intangible Cultural Heritage, suggesting graphic design culture in Switzerland itself is associated with Swissness. This paper analyses three posters from the exhibition Stealing Swiss (Samwon Paper Gallery, Seoul, 10.20.–12.6.2014) and discusses how they question national stereotypes promoted by Swissness and support alternative approaches to it.

Item Type:

Conference or Workshop Item (Paper)


Bern Academy of the Arts
Bern Academy of the Arts > Institute of Design Research
BFH Centres and strategic thematic fields > BFH Centre for Arts in Context


Lzicar, Robert0000-0002-8212-5661 and
Zeller, Sara


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




Blucher Proceedings


[62] Swiss Graphic Design and Typography Revisited Official URL




Robert Lzicar

Date Deposited:

20 Feb 2020 09:47

Last Modified:

18 Dec 2020 13:29

Publisher DOI:






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