Swiss Designers and Swiss Design

Already at the time of the artist poster in the twenties, a distinction began to be made between the painted poster and the graphic poster, and graphic designers started to replace painters as poster creators. The establishment of vocational training in typography and graphic design was the basis for the development of the world-famous Swiss graphic design. The lithographer Ernst Keller was the first graphic design teacher to create about 100 multiply-printed posters in linocut following new graphic principles. His student Pierre Gauchat was celebrated as the “father of Swiss graphic design” in the fifties.

Eric de Coulon, who had started studying architecture, found a completely new style for his typographic posters – the text linked closely to the product and formed an integral part of the design. Coulon was strongly influenced by Le Corbusier – his most beautiful and consistent posters were created for Parisian businesses in the thirties.

Hans Handschin, or Johannes Handschin, set an example with his modern, objectively informative style: he advocated a contemporary advertising style for various Basel businesses. The large-format poster for the horticultural exhibition of 1929 won first prize and his unique poster for Silvaplana with the peak of the “Engadine Matterhorn”, the Piz della Margna, is one of the most beautiful and rare Swiss travel posters. Handschin was summoned for military duties several times, especially during the war, and died of a heart attack at the young age of 49.

Cassandre’s influence is very conspicuous in many Swiss posters: his dynamism appears in many designs by J. Handschin, Eric de Coulon and Niklaus Stoecklin.

There were also other graphic designers who influenced Swiss poster art up until the Second World War: the advertising illustrator Emil Ebner, Edouard Thöny, who was influenced by the decorative posters of the Munich school, Alfred H. Koelliker, who was famous for his typographic poster style, and the trained goldsmith Erwin Roth with his poster for Café St. Gotthard.

Vintage posters from our selection