Max Bill was an architect, graphic designer, painter, artist, and typeface designer during the early 20th century and left a lasting legacy through the institutions he co-founded and the various works of art he designed across diverse mediums.
Bill, born in Winterthur, Switzerland, on December 22, began his apprenticeship as a silversmith while also studying at the School of Applied Arts in Zürich before transitioning to study at the Bauhaus in Dessau, Germany.
It was at the Bauhaus where he formulated his skillset in modern design with other famous artists such as Albers, Kandinsky, Klee, Moholy-Nagy and Schlemmer, making him one of the most influential figures of Swiss design. The Bauhaus existed from 1919-1933 and located Weimar, Germany, was widely renown school of design, unifying the principles of design and mass production with encompassing the combination of aesthetics with function.
The Bauhaus’ core objective was to reimagine the material world and reflect the unity of the arts, creating a utopian craft guild combining architecture, sculpture, and painting into a single creative expression. The innovative techniques and multi-medium artwork suited Bill quite well, and he went on to pursue his creativity through different forms of artistic expression.
Bill is known for his various works in product design, such as watches, furniture and lamps. In addition, he is known to support various artists in his career, even working as a professor at the University of Fine Arts in Hamburg. He also founded multiple ventures, one of which was the Allianz publishing house in 1941 and later founding the journal Abstrakt Konkret in 1944.
Perhaps the most significant part of his legacy was creating and planning the Ulm School of Design.
Ulm School of Design was a masterfully influential space for young artists to learn design concepts and principles from Bill and his peers at the Bauhaus, which had a Seismic Impact on Design and played a key role in dictating 21st Century design systems and norms.
Some of his designs are still used for reproductions today, such as the Ulm stool and his clocks and watches, where he designed the precision dials found in modern Junghans wristwatches and clocks, which maintained his popularity and legacy in design.
Max Bill defied the cliché, “Jack of all trades, master of none,” by excelling as an artist using several mediums, an educator, and the creator of numerous artistic groups and institutions. His unique philosophy and approach to his work caused him to stand out amongst his peers and why he remains an influence today.
Continue your exlporation of the famous designers who help shaped the movement that made the Swiss Style so effective in graphic design that is still popular till this day.