Walk through the streets of any Swiss city – Lausanne, Geneva, Zurich or St Gallen – and you’ll undoubtedly stumble across some great posters. The ‘Swiss Style’ of graphic design is world famous but the striking posters found in Switzerland’s public spaces reveal a rich and varied design scene. Posters often feature a vivid use of colour, striking photography or bold patterns but they also showcase a diverse range of styles.
Lausanne-based designer Dennis Moya has been curating images of outstanding Swiss posters on Instagram since 2015. His @swissposters account now has 67,000 followers and showcases designs from across the country.
Moya is a graphic designer and communication manager at Swiss Typefaces. He also runs design platform Ligature with jewellery designer Tiffany Bähler. He set up @swissposters in response to a comment on his @ligature.ch account, from someone who wanted to see pictures of posters in situ.
“He wanted to see more pictures of posters displayed in the streets, in their environment … so I created it,” says Moya. “I take the train four days a week for work, I see interesting, boring, new, cultural, advertorial and political posters everyday, so I knew I could do it long term.”
Many of the photographs featured on @swissposters were taken by Moya. He also publishes submissions and photographs by other designers and enthusiasts. “There are maybe more posters from the French-speaking Western Switzerland, because it is where we live and work (Lausanne, Geneva, Vevey) but I’m trying to publish posters from all over Switzerland,” he says.
Most were created for cultural organisations such as theatres, museums and festivals, and Moya says he looks for designs that are innovative and unusual. “Personally, I like posters where typography is the main element. But the main thing is if it’s eye-catching and interesting because of its design and approach,” he says.
The designs showcased on @swissposters are more experimental and exciting than the kind we are used to seeing in the UK but this isn’t surprising given Switzerland’s formidable design heritage. The Swiss Federal Office for Culture recently applied to have graphic design added to the list of Swiss traditions on UNESCO’s Intangible Cultural Heritage List, and the country was home to some of the 20th century’s best known and most influential designers.
“The legacy of post-war graphic design in Switzerland is one of the strongest heritages in our design landscape…. This heritage is present in our everyday life,” says Moya.
When people think of Swiss graphic design, they often think of the Swiss Style from the 1950s and 60s: the grid systems, sans serif type and striking compositions favoured by the likes of Josef Müller-Brockmann, Emil Ruder and Armin Hofmann. Yet Switzerland’s contemporary graphic design scene is more nuanced – something Moya hopes to highlight through both Ligature and @swissposters.
“You can see the many styles and varieties in recent months and years. The ‘Swiss Style’ from the fifties is in our minds but it was 70 years ago,” he says. “Today, there isn’t a main style but there is the importance of typography that unifies them. When I talk about typography I talk about the care of the typeface choices and the care of composition and layout design.”
Alongside running @swissposters, Moya showcases contemporary Swiss and international design through Ligature. He and Bähler recently launched a printed publication, Ligature Paper, and a talks series, Ligature Connections.
“Ligature is an independent media which focuses on design and creation by showing people’s projects from several fields,” he explains. “[It] has different forms of sharing content, such as the website, the printed publications and the talks.”
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