Armin Hofmann, a dedicated educator and designer, lived an immensely impactful life in influencing thousands of students and designers worldwide, many of whom grew up to be well-respected and influential designers themselves.
Armin Hofmann was born in Winterthur, Switzerland on June 29, 1920. He spent time in his younger years studying at the School of Arts and Crafts in Zürich, the same school that produced many other great designers of his period. After his schooling, he worked doing lithography before opening his own design studio for a brief period in time.
He then learned of a teaching position at the Basel School of Arts and Crafts. It was at this school that he worked as an art teacher for many years, influencing many designers during his time. After many years working as a well-respected and well-known teacher, he ultimately replaced the head of the school and was known for his unique teaching methods, that truly pushed his students in challenging their design concepts.
Hofmann had no shortage of students who were more than willing to sing his praises after experiencing his classes. Many great designers were at one point his student and attributed Hofmann’s style and influence as one of the reasons for their success.
Tschichold’s nonconformist and intellectual approach to typography and design was a threat from the militarist and conformist Nazi ideologies. They briefly imprisoned Tschichold before releasing him, which forced him and his family to flee his homeland, transitioning to a life in Switzerland. Once in Switzerland, Tschichold continued building a following of other designers who appreciated him for his unique approach and style.
Hofmann published a design book titled Graphic Design Manual, which is still published and reprinted today. This manual is still used in graphic design classrooms and by designers in their work. In addition to his work as an author, later in his life, he took a position as a professor at several American universities. He began his professorship at the Philadelphia College of Arts and eventually taught at Yale University for many years until he resigned in the late 1980s. During his time at Yale, he brought with him his ideologies and the Swiss International Style of graphic design.
This style was radically different from more traditional techniques of graphic design. His time at Yale influenced American graphic designers, only furthering the reach of this unique approach to graphic design.
Hofmann was central to the development of the Swiss International Style. This particular style relied on an intense focus on the placement of elements, primarily focusing on using the grid. While many of his contemporaries strictly followed the International Style rules and standards, Hofmann was more flexible with the rules and prioritized the work itself.
This style valued posters as an optimal medium for artistic expression. Hofmann designed many theatrical posters during his career, including several on display in the New York Museum of Modern Art. He also worked with other mediums and created many structural sculptures, demonstrating his versatile talents. Hoffman lived a long, influential life, passing away in December 2020, shortly after his 100th birthday. He was mourned by family, his massive group of former students, and the graphic design world.
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.