100 years of Swiss graphic design would be a daunting subject for any book designer to handle, let alone a Swiss one: how did you deal with the weight of legacy on your shoulders? What characterised your general approach to the design and layout?
We discussed what the right behaviour should be. We wanted to avoid making a statement by Norm. We avoided big graphical gestures and tended to rely rather on the visuals (those alone are the historical ’truth’) than on the text (nothing against the text). We used only one typeface (see below) in three sizes, and we kept to the grid (we admit, no surprises there).
Akzidenz Grotesk is the typeface used throughout the book — could you explain this choice?
Both Helvetica and Univers would have been appropriate, though probably too obvious. Initially, we fully agreed on Unica (the ambitious type project in 1977 that was meant to bring together the best of UNI-vers and helvt-ICA). When working with it however, we were not happy — the regular cut was to light for us and the medium cut is rather bold.
In the material contained in the book, Akzidenz Grotesk (and versions of it, for big letters always drawn and interpreted by hand) has a very strong presence, even after 1957, when Helvetica and Univers came out.
So, we turned to that typeface. We used Berthold Akzidenz Grotesk Medium for titles, cover and introduction text. For body text and legends we used Akzidenz Grotesk Next Medium.