If you’ve read this blog before, you may have already guessed that we like graphic design. A lot. It’s what we love doing, looking at and talking about. There are a huge number of designers and design agencies that we admire, look up to and take inspiration from – some of them are well known greats from the past, some of them are a bit more obscure, some of them are our peers and some of we’re lucky enough to count as friends. There are a small handful of designers we admire, however, that are simple legendary. Josef Müller Brockmann is one of those designers.
Born in Switzerland in 1914, Josef Müller Brockmann studied architecture, design and history of art in Zurich before going on to undertake a design apprenticeship under the advertising consultant Walter Diggelman. In 1936 he went on to establish his own studio and by the mid 50s was a leading authority on Swiss Style graphic design, a discipline based on strictly ordered and grid-based design systems. His design philosophy was based on disregarding unnecessary illustration or decoration in favour of simplicity and form. Taking a great deal of inspiration from Bauhaus and Constructivism, his work (particularly the posters he produced for the Zurich Tonhalle) we’re groundbreakingly brilliant in their use of simple forms, colour theory and modernist typography.
Throughout the late 50s and early 60s, among other things, he co-founded and edited the journal Neue Grafik (New Graphic Designer), became a professor of graphic design at the Zurich Kunstgewerbeschule (where he formally studied) as well as guest lecturing at various universities in Osaka and Germany. He was also appointed European design consultant for IBM and authored a number of books on Swiss graphic design theories, the history of the poster and the use of grid systems.
His late career saw a number of solo exhibitions in Zurich, Bern, Hamburg, Munich, Stuttgart, Berlin, Paris, New York, Chicago, Tokyo, Osaka, Caracas and Zagreb. And in 1987, the state of Zurich awarded him a gold medal for his cultural contributions.
In summary, he was the man. He changed the face of visual communication and if you’re a graphic designer working today, he’s had a huge impact on what you’re doing. His work has established rules which are still followed to this day and his legacy is one we should all respect. If, like us, you love his work, Blanka has an excellent selection of prints available for purchase.
Josef Müller Brockmann, we salute you.