LA – Graphic Design History (week 3 – 1)

This week we went into the history of Graphic Design and learned the most important styles from years 1900 to 2000. The first learning assignment for this week was to define our own words the Bauhaus, De Stijl and Swiss Movements. Then for each of these movements: find examples from their eras, as well as current designs that are influenced by these styles.


Bauhaus was a famous German art school operating from 1919 to 1933. Bauhaus combined crafts and the fine arts and became later one of the most influential currents in modern design. It was founded by Walter Gropius in Weimar. After the first world war Gropius felt that the time was right and needed a new style. It had to be functional, low cost and suitable also for mass production. He wanted to combine the art and craft and produce high quality and functional furniture. The Bauhaus means literally ”building house”, although the school didn’t have en architect department during the first years. The Bauhaus style has influenced in art, architecture, graphic design, interior design, industrial design, and typography. The school had to be shut down from the pressure of Nazi’s during the second World War. The staff still continued to spread its idealistic precepts while moving all over the world. Bauhaus focused on simplified forms, rationality, functionality and that mass production can live together in harmony with art. The general principles of the Bauhaus simply by using geometric shapes and unusual angles.


Above is design from the Bauhaus era and here under can be seen how the movement has been influenced for modern design. The modern summer cottage is using geometric shapes that could be going even unusual ways. The focus in the chair is functional. It has clear lines and is in mass production. And finally in this modern poster has been used San Serif letters that are very rounded and bold. There’s only one colour, red, with black and off-white and it uses geometric shapes, circles, squares and lines. 



De Stijl, in Dutch for ”The Style”, was a Dutch artistic movement founded in 1917 to 1931. It advocated pure abstraction and universality by reduction to the essentials of form and colour. Using only black, white and primary colours red, yellow and blue (non-colours or combined with primary colours) , they simplified visual composition to vertical and horizontal. The De Stijl movement posited the fundamental principle of the geometry of the straight line, the square, and the rectangle, combined with a strong asymmetricality. De Stijl was simplicity and abstract design both in architecture and painting. It avoided symmetry, had three dimensional aspect with lines that are positioned in layers or planes that don’t intersect.

De Stijl was also an journal that was published by Theo van Doesburg. When Theo van Doesburg died in Davos, Switzerland, in 1932, his role was so big that the group didn’t survive after that. The members kept in touch but De Stijl could not exist without a strong character as van Doesburg had been. 

Here above are the original examples from the De Stijl -it’s vertical and horizontal lines and primary colours. The Rietveld Schröder House, 1924 – the only building realised completely according to the principles of “De Stijl”

De Stijl movement has inspired many modern designs as well. In the pictures here under the lines and primary colours have been used for the clock, jewelry and the mug. The same pattern has been combined to the photography. In the modern architecture the same pattern can be seen in different buildings and De Stijl has been an inspiration also in the Thai house on the far right corner with orange balcony and non symmetry lines and in the House in Kiev which has a huge pergola.  




Swiss movement or Swiss Design is also referred to as the International Style or International Typographic Style was all about simplicity, legibility and objectivity. It was founded in Germany, Russia and the Netherlands, in the 1920s and developed by designers in Switzerland during the 1950s. It uses asymmetric layouts and sans-serif typefaces such as Akzidenz Grotesk and Helvetica neue. It shows more attention to detail and the use of grid system. And by combining typography and photography (clear text makes it easy to read and easy to understand the message).

The swiss style can be defined as authentic pursue for simplicity. The principle: Forms follow functions. Most of the swiss style craft is devoted to the minimal of elements of style, such as typography and content layout, rather then textures and illustrations.

The examples here above are all from the era of Swiss Design. Giselle poster has a blur photography combined with sans-serif font. Form follows function – when you make an enlargement from the interesting patterns of broken circles it becomes the b in the name of Beethoven. The last one is an example of sans -serif Akzidenz Grotesk font which was the first sans-serif typeface to ever be widely used and it later influenced the design of Helvetica.     

In modern design the Swiss style is used a lot also in posters. Simple layout, sans-serif fonts and white space. In the lower row far left is combined a photography, the layout is asymmetrical and sans-serif typographic which makes it easy to read.   


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