November 15, 2019

POSTED BY

Rafael Esquer

CATEGORY

Seven Facts About Emil Ruder, the Man Behind the Swiss Style

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Spread from his book Typographie, 1967 In revisiting the history of graphic design—as meticulously edited by Jens Müller and Julius Wiedemann in the monumental book, “History of Graphic Design Vol. 2”—I was reminded of the work of Emil Ruder, one of the founders of the style of design known as …

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Spread from his book Typographie, 1967

In revisiting the history of graphic design—as meticulously edited by Jens Müller and Julius Wiedemann in the monumental book, “History of Graphic Design Vol. 2”—I was reminded of the work of Emil Ruder, one of the founders of the style of design known as Swiss Design. His work, ideas, writings, and teachings forever changed the history of graphic design.

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Typographie: A Manual of Design Cover

If you are new to the profession or simply missed your History of Graphic Design class, here are seven things to know about this pioneer designer:

  1. In 1929 he began his career in design at age 15 when he took and apprenticeship as a typesetter in Basil from 1929 to 1933.
  2. In the early 1940s, during his late twenties, he attended the Zurich School of Arts and Crafts where he discovered the Bauhaus and was introduced to the work and ideology of Jan Tschichold.
  3. In the late 1940s, after the post war years, Ruder was one of the first to do away with all of the conventional rules of traditional typography and to established new laws of composition that fit better with the modern times. His use of grids during the 1940s and 50s has influenced the development of web design.
  4. In 1947 he met the artist-printer Armin Hofmann. It marked the beginning of a long period of collaboration. By the mid-1950s, their classes had earned them an international reputation to the extent that by the mid-1960s the wait list to get into their courses was lengthy.
  5. Between 1957 and 1959 for the journal Typografische Monatsblätter, Ruder contributed a series of four articles with the title Fundamentals: ‘The Plane’,’The Line’, ‘The Word’ and ‘Rhythm’. These articles became the basis for his book.
  6. In 1967, after twenty-five-years of teaching, he published his seminal book titled Typographie:A Manual for Design. It was published in German, English and French, by Swiss publisher Arthur Niggli. The book captured his ideas, methods, and approach. Typographie: A Manual for Design greatly helped spread the Swiss Style, and became a basic text for graphic design and typography programs in Europe and North America.
  7. In 1962 he became one of the founders of the International Center for the Typographic Arts (ICTA) in New York. The ICTA ceased its work in the early 1970s
Gedränge, from his book Typographie, 1967
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Magazine cover, 1961
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Posters
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Poster design for exhibition Glass art from Murano, 1955. Gewerbemuseum Basel, Switzerland.
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Poster design for the exhibition die gute form, 1958. Switzerland.
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Poster designed by Emil Ruder for Kunsthalle Basel (exhibition of artists Walter Bodmer and Hans Hartung, February-March 1952)
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Joan Miró, 1956

Love graphic design history? You might enjoy reading about other legendary designers like Saul Bass, Vladimir Fuka, Abram Games, Franco Grignani, Alvin Lustig, Gunter Rambow, Paul Rand, and Waldemar Swierzy.