The swiss style (also referred to as the international style) of graphic design can best be described as objective visual communication. The swiss design style was pioneered during the 1920 and 30s by work performed for swiss industry which at the time was primarly engineering, pharmaceuticals and manufacturing. These industrys required very basic instructional material for their technical manuals. Therefore, the style reflected that objective and the look was defined by function over fashion. This functional style employed bold sans seriff fonts for headings and clean photography was preferred over illustration in most cases. The emphasis was always put on ledgibilty and pages or sections were clearly labeled through the use of very bold headings.
Today the Swiss style can be seen in many applications but most notably in the form of advertising, catalog design and webdesign. The use of large imagery combined with very easy to read slogans or labels defines swiss style. Additionally the swiss style made use of strict grids to align their content. A grid is an invisible framework from which designers and developers set type and align elements. Ideally the use of elements and placement of items define the grid without a visual grid actually being present on the page. The grid serves two purposes. one being to keep things organized but more importantly the grid creates a template for placement of additional content on subsequent pages. This technique can be quite useful when designing magazines, brochures and websites which all require many pages to describe product lines or technical information.
Personally I love the swiss style – its minimalist qualities allow the photography to tell the story while the text defines the section. It also happens to look cool. Unfortunately more often than not there is a tendancy to fill whitespace with additional content. In my opinion this spreads the focus in different directions; creating a distraction which contradicts the swiss style.
Take a look around and you will surely see the swiss style in use today in magazines, signage, advertising and on the web.