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DESIGN IS ALL AROUND US.

 

 


Graphic design is no longer the province of specialists, but available to anyone with a computer. All things that were the realm of professional designers 10 to 15 years ago are now practically achievable to even the most creatively challenged. As the birth of iPhone photography and Instagram has exposed us more eagerly to life through a lens, so Swiss design has influenced our eyes for generations. But we barely even acknowledge its importance. We're about to change that. With our most significant LIMITED release to date – Swiss Legacy.

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On the 60th anniversary of Helvetica (you may not know the name, but you'll almost certainly know the typeface), we're honouring Swiss design and minimalism. Today, the Helvetica font is ubiquitous, used to spell out major brand identities (Lufthansa), shop names (American Apparel), public signage (the New York subway system was an early convert), tech companies (Intel). Even Apple, the 21st century's primary purveyors of high design, have not been adverse to adopting this icon of the creative world.

 

As the name implies, Helvetica's roots were Swiss (originally it was called Neue Haas Grotesk). It was developed in 1957 by Max Miedinger and Eduard Hoffman, very much in sympathy with the new Swiss Style – which treated graphic design almost as a postwar mission. Just as modernist architecture stripped away superfluous building ornamentation, so the new Swiss design aesthetics snipped off curly serifs – relics from an older era of print technology. Now we were in the modern, industrial era where fast, clear communication was key.

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"What people think is classic Swiss design, actually isn’t." – Alexander Tochilovsky
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One of the earliest adopters of Helvetica was the Swiss Federal Railways. Famous for their punctuality and precision, the simple design and the unmistakably easy-to-read font was considered the ideal aesthetic with which to deliver its citizens from one end of the country to the other. Ingenuity and simplicity are elements that come immediately to mind when thinking about Swiss design. But what exactly is Swiss minimalism – besides removing the unnecessary and emphasising the necessary?

 

At its most accomplished, simplified Swiss-style design is so well considered and so well balanced, that it gives the impression that it was created with little effort. It just works. “But what people think is classic Swiss design, actually isn’t,” says Alexander Tochilovsky, one of the curators of a recent exhibition entitled Swiss Style Now. “There’s so much more nuance and variety, and I think we tend to bracket things in a simplistic way."

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"There was a motto that individual emotion shouldn’t be a part of the design. Now, it’s much more diverse, personal, lively and playful." – Xavier Erni
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“I think what most people have in their minds when they think of Swiss design is this 60s aesthetic with a minimalistic use of grid and type,” says Xavier Erni, another of the curators of the show. “There was a motto that individual emotion shouldn’t be a part of the design. Now, it’s much more diverse, personal, lively and playful. But you can still see the modernist legacy.

 

And it's precisely this ethos that we've tapped into with the Swiss Legacy Collection – taking inspiration from the old. And the new. We've paid homage to 60s grid aesthetic and minimalism, but we've also acknowledged humour and lightness – using recognisable cues but pushing boundaries and patterns to a playful and unexpectedly beautiful end.

 

The Collection, ourbiggest ever, features four different styles, each with two choices: Old versus new, alt versus neue. Neither is wrong, all of it is right. The choice is entirely up to you.

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LIMITED | SWISS LEGACY IS RELEASED EXCLUSIVELY TO BLACK SHEEP LTD ON WEDNESDAY OCTOBER 25 – 7PM AEST

 

BLACK SHEEP LTD