Swiss Made

In 1992, the artist Ben Vautier represented Switzerland at the World’s Fair with a text painting of the phrase “La Suisse n’existe pas”. Seemingly questioning the existence of a single definitive Switzerland, his words could equally apply to the myth of a homogeneous style of Swiss graphics: hence their presence in this new book from Die Gestalten Verlag

Indeed, the work featured in Altitude: Contemporary Swiss Graphic Design suggests that, 50 years on from the birth of the Swiss Style that has come to dominate perceptions of Helvetic design, a new generation of designers have gradually been altering the course and shaping a  new movement in the country.

And seven years after the release of their first survey (the near-sold-out Swiss Graphic Design) DGV’s latest collection of work from the country’s most talented designers pulls out all the stops. Designed by Nicolas Bourquin, with a cover and slipcase by Sabrina Gill, Altitude exudes an elegant authority that’s often missing from graphic design collections.

The book’s loose structure also hints at the wider implications for contemporary graphic design – the interdisciplinary nature of much of the work is affirmed in the frequent use of mixed media including, tellingly, a blending of the old and the new, of analogue and digital.

Switzerland’s unique topography and location (bordering France, Italy, Germany and Austria) offers up unrivalled opportunities for designers to work on projects in a range of different cultural environments and it seems that many of the designers here have taken advantage of this.

Over the 240 pages, celebrated practitioners like the ever-surprising Martin Woodtli rub shoulders with younger studios like The Remingtons and Körner Union and the work, be it posters, editorial design or an installation, is given plenty of space in the spreads.

With design collections ten-a-penny at the moment, this one is Altitude with attitude and deserves some serious consideration.

 

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