I’m always on the look out for good sources of inspiration, and this morning I found a great one. The Carnegie Mellon Swiss Poster Collection with over 300 images from 1970 through 2009. The extensive collection was established by Swiss graphic designer Ruedi Ruegg and Professor Daniel Boyarski, and contains works from designers Max Bill, Paul Bruhwiler, Ruedi Kulling, Herbert Leupin, Josef Muller-Brockmann, Roger Pfund, Ruedi Ruegg, Niklaus Troxler, Wolfgang Weingart, Kurt Wirth, R. Schraivogel, Cornel Windlin, and many more.
Over the last few years there has been a trend toward hand lettering styles with the chalkboard look reach a white hot furry in the last year or so. That look dovetails onto the sketchbook look that was so in design fashion a few years back, and in my opinion has jumped the shark. Maybe that is why I am drawn to a couple of new typefaces, one that is a redone classic from the 1930’s and another that is based on the Swiss International style.
Directors Gothic which is being offered by MyFonts was painstakingly developed from the original 1930s glass masters. The new digital set includes a full international character compliment, automatic fractionals, ordinals, and an impressively large assortment of alternate characters.
The original font was inspired by the Art Deco movement popular that had gained popularity toward the end of the 1920’s and early 1930’s. Directors Gothic was designed with an eye toward expanded utility for use in advertising headline and smart corporate materials. The redesigned font was created by Neil Summerour for Lettering Inc.
Over the last 4 years Swiss design firm Maximage has developed Programme which is based on the geometry produced by computer programming, and calligraphy. Programme is an innovative typeface that originated s two different versions, a more sophisticated softer form, and a more angular rougher version. Because the font is OpenType you are able to switch between versions and combine them into specific sets. Because Maximage designed the font with the computer in mind, the font is optimized for both display and text needs. I love the geometry of the letter forms here, and the combination of both styles adds just a bit of that retro 1980’s vibe that is starting to make some headway into design circles these days.
As an artist and designer I’m not supposed to be good at, or like Math. While I’m no mathematician I can hold my own and try not to use a calculator for basic math like addition, subtraction, multiplication and division. I actually don’t mind doing math, it keeps your brain sharp, and as I get older I need a sharp brain.
Designer Chad Voss has created a new iPhone calculator app that I really like, and if I have to use a calculator, I think I’ll be choosing this. “Sumhold” not only looks great, it does something that other calculators don’t. It shows you the equation, and visually holds it so you can see what your last function was.
Math done simply. Designed in the Swiss style, Sumhold is a calculator that instantly calculates and stores numbers with a fiercely reductive interface and simple swipe gesture.
Unlike most basic calculators, Sumhold keeps a running tally of your current calculation at the top and, when calculations become complex, automatically inserts parentheses to keep everything clearly readable. There is no need for an “=” button because it calculates as you type.
Later this spring I am traveling to Europe, and over the weekend I dug out my passport to make sure it was still valid. Something I should have done 3 months ago but some how forgot to do. While looking for my own passport I started thinking about the Swiss passports I saw at the hotel when I was in Vienna, Austria a couple of years ago. Everything about them said, “Someone actually thought about how I look. I was designed by a non-government agency.”
One of the most obvious visual icons for any country is its flag, and yet Switzerland is one of the only countries I know of that leverages this visual asset in the design of its passport.
The Swiss passport (introduced in 2003) takes full advantage of the bold design of its flag, a bright red leather cover with the equilateral cross strategically positioned below five lines of copy that simply declare “Swiss Passport” in white Helvetica type. The cross is quietly mirrored in a debossed pattern that radiates out and across the cover of the document. Everything about this tells any viewer at a glance what the country of origin is of the holder.
Like the cover, the interior is treated with the same level of respect. Every page is well designed, and includes the iconic white cross on each spread. The anti-counterfitting mechanisms that cover the backgrounds are well thought out colorful geometric patterns that visually highlight the cross. Each page contains a bold outlined page number centered at the top next to an image that marks a point of historical significance to the country.
Switzerland as whole is extremely savvy about displaying their country as an integrated brand. This is shown in everything from banknotes, to public signage, so it is no surprise to see that they have treated the simple passport as a vehicle to showcase their design known how and brand savvy to the world.