My Own Private Swiss Graphic Design History

Zeller, Sara Stefanie; Lzicar, Robert; Bischler, Sandra (2018). My Own Private Swiss Graphic Design History [Performance or Exhibition]. In: My Own Private Swiss Graphic Design History. erlesen – Raum für gedruckte Feinkost, Bern. 09.06.–30.06.2018

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What is Swiss graphic design? Which objects can or cannot be associated with it and why? And what is typically Swiss about them? As part of a graphic design history seminar at the Bern University of the Arts HKB during summer semester 2018, SGDTR-researchers Sara Zeller, Sandra Bischler and Robert Lzicar investigated the historiography of Swiss graphic design together with students of the BA Visual Communi­cation.

The idea of the seminar was that Swiss graphic design history does not only con­sist of “masterpieces,” as it is often shown in design collections, exhibitions, and publications. Interesting examples can just as well be found at one’s own home, at the grandparents’ base­ment, or at the thrift store. Anonymous every­day graphic design of past decades tells relevant stories and, at the same time, allows to complement well-known historical narratives with alternative and personal approaches.

In this sense, the students’ task was to find graphic design objects in their environment that are related to Switzerland. These artifacts – ranging from educational posters to sandpaper – were dis­cussed in class and selected for an exhibition scheduled for the end of the semester. The students conducted historical research on their objects and incorporat­ed their findings into short texts, which offered personal access to Swiss graphic design history and showed the stu­dents’ interest in the individual objects, their form and time, but also a fascination for every­day and amateur design. They represented an un­derstanding of graphic design beyond unique­ness, “author design” and national style. The writing process was supported by Regina Dürig within her sem­inar “Creative Writing” at HKB, and the research was documented on Instagram (#myswiss­graphicdesign).

Finally, the students planned, curated and designed an exhibition, intended to present alternative histories of Swiss graphic design and typography beyond the canon and established stereotypes. It was shown at “erlesen – Raum für gedruckte Feinkost” at PROGR, Bern (9–30 June 2018) [] and at “umlaut¨ gallery space” in London (6–27 July 2018) [] supported by the Swiss Cultural Fund UK. Without claiming completeness, the exhibition offered room for diverse interpretations of Swiss graphic design. Furthermore, it contributed to the discus­sion of the mechanisms of historiography, the construction of national identity and the diverse social effects of graphic design practice.

Item Type:

Audiovisual Material & Event (Performance or Exhibition)


06 Faculty of Humanities > Department of Art and Cultural Studies > Institute of Art History > Contemporary Art

Graduate School:

Graduate School of the Arts (GSA) [discontinued]

UniBE Contributor:

Zeller, Sara Stefanie, Lzicar, Robert


700 Arts > 760 Graphic arts


[UNSPECIFIED] Hochschule der Künste Bern HKB


[UNSPECIFIED] Swiss Graphic Design and Typography Revisited




Robert Lzicar

Date Deposited:

20 Jun 2019 10:13

Last Modified:

05 Dec 2022 15:27


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