Swiss Style Graphic Design

History and Background

The Swiss Style of Graphic Design, as its name itself implies was developed in  Switzerland during the 1950’s and became popular worldwide because of its  precision, clarity, readability and typography. It is also known as the International Typographic Style. It became a new  revolution in the world of graphic design and was instantly adopted by artists  all over the world.

This style originated in Russia, Germany and the Netherlands during the  1920’s and it spread to Switzerland after the World War II. The world-class  Swiss designers improvised this design and came out with a new wave of graphic  language. This was evident in not only the posters, but also was prevalent in  designing train tickets, travel pamphlets, drug labels and even bank notes. This  style, otherwise known as, “Neue Grafik” encompassed a formal discipline and had  a profound impact on the world of graphic design for the next three decades. It  continues to inspire graphic designers even today.

Swiss Style Design Elements and the Web

Early Swiss style artists used this form of design to capture the attention  of users for posters and brochures. In the process, they had created the basic  forms of user interface and it is only logical that Swiss design is extended to  the web. The central element of Swiss style design is uniformity. All design  elements adhere to geometric shapes and grid lines. This has been interspersed  with text, patterns, colors and photographs to create abstract and unusual  images.  Some of the Swiss style elements that can be used to design a web page  to look attractive are grids, white spaces, a defined structure and sans-serif fonts.

Grid lines

Grid lines form the foundation for Swiss style design and they present a  sense of uniformity to the viewers. It serves as a framework for designers to  organize their information and make it more presentable to the viewers. When  grids are used, it gives a defined structure to the page and makes it easy to  group related information. It also gives an overall balance to the entire design  and makes it appealing as well as user-friendly.

White spaces

White spaces are essential for any design because it helps the mind perceive  different groups of information. The right amount of white spaces at the right  places can create a first good impression and this can motivate any visitor to  read through the web page and linger on it for a longer period of time. So,  white spaces are vital for a good design and the Swiss style design lays a lot  of emphasis on it.  This style advocates the use of extensive white spaces  between texts to differentiate them and to give a boost to the overall quality  of the design. It also suggests the use of white spaces between images to  enhance the look of the page.

Structured Design

The cornerstone of Swiss style is structured design. Websites that follow  this style should use a high amount of definition lists and other HTML structure  elements. There are a wide variety of uses for these elements and most design  styles tend to avoid using a good part of these elements. However, these  elements are vital for Swiss style and the more you incorporate, the better will  be the outcome.


The Swiss artists are well-known for their minimalistic and elementary  approach to design and this design naturally follows that trend. This design is  all about simplicity expressed in the most attractive manner. Designs based on  the Swiss style use the least number of elements required to create the best  designs.


Fonts are the most defining aspect of Swiss style. The developers of this  style believed that an attractive image can be created using precise words, the  best typeface and the designs will be an ample proof that they will hit the  bull’s eye!

Most Swiss artists prefer to use the sans-serif typefaces to give a sense of  clarity and universality to the design. Different font sizes and typefaces were  used in a single design to bring more depth and to act as a true avenue of  expression. Also, differing font sizes were used to group different kinds of  information and it added more readability to the design.


Images and photos are surprise elements of the Swiss design. The Swiss  artists felt that photos are better ways to portray an idea than illustrations  and drawings. It also opened up numerous possibilities for the designers to  incorporate unique photos into their design. This improved the aesthetics of the  design and brought in a unique versatility to it. The image below shows how photos can be blended into designs to make it more  attractive to the users. Different design tools can be added to the photos to  give it more depth and resonance among viewers.


The first example depicts a minimalist design that is attractive because of  the use of differing typefaces. The colored band adds a lot of the depth and  makes it a central aspect of the design.


This image is a classic example of the use of grids and structure to make a  design readable and attractive to the viewers.


This example shows how font colors and typefaces can be used to distinguish  different groups of text so that the viewers can simply peruse the page to get a  fair idea of the information.


In short, Swiss style design has some unique elements that can make your  design outstanding and attractive instead of a run-off-the-mill design. As a  designer, you will be surprised to see the impact that it can have on your  design. So, feel free to use these design elements to create attractive designs  that can leave your audience spell bound.

Article written by: Rafiq Elmansy