• Jan Tschichold


“Perfect typography is more a science than an art.” - Jan Tschichold

  • Background
    Jan Tschichold was a powerhouse in the world of 20th-century topography, and the lingering impact of his work can be found anywhere modern typography exists. In many ways, he set standards that are still adhered to and studied today.
    Early Career
    Jan Tschichold was born in Leipzig, Germany on April 2, 1902. His father worked in printing various signs, which lead Tschichold to begin studying calligraphy and art at a very young age.

  • After visiting the Bauhaus in 1923, his perspective on typography shifted and inspired him to this new form of design. Shortly after this life-changing experience, Tschichold wrote a book titled Die Neue Typographie, a typography manual for designers, the first of its kind. Die Neue Typographi celebrated the use of sans-serif typographic, grids and dynamic layouts, while firmly rejecting classical typography in design. Unfortunately, the rise of the Nazi party in Germany meant trouble for a man described as a modernist.

  • 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.

  • Die Hose (the Trousers) at Phoebus Palast, 1926

  • Buster Keaton in: "Der General", 1927

  • Die Frau ohne Namen (The Woman Without a Name), 1927

  • Influences
    Tschichold was, as aforementioned, greatly influenced by his visit to the Bauhaus and with a rich background in typography and design from his upbringing, experiencing a radical new approach to the world he loved changed how he viewed typography. Eventually, after moving from Germany, his harsh rejection of all things traditional lessened. He even viewed his own book as too extreme and finally denounced modernist ideologies.

  • Tschichold enjoyed a long and successful career as a designer, beginning with his work in Germany and as an author of his typographical manual. Die Neue Typographie set standards for typeface, even specifying the proper paper size and creating other norms to streamline the design process. This was the first book to be developed for designers.

  • In addition to his work as an author, he briefly worked as an educator in the early part of his career and spent most of his life working as a typographical designer. Upon visiting England in the late-1940s, he was approached to work on Penguin House books’ design, a notable publishing company and between the years 1947-1949, he oversaw the creation of over 500 books, setting the standard for their publishing design.

  • Ultimately, his work improved the quality standards for books in England. He spent the remainder of his career and life in Switzerland, where he continued his work on book design and consulting as a typographical designer. He received numerous accolades during his lifetime, including the AIGA Medal. His legacy remains significant in the work of typography and graphic design and continued his career until his passing in Switzerland in 1974.

  • Die Konstruktivisten (The Constructivists), 1937

  • Page of Jan Tschichold's Die Neue Typography, 1923

Der Berufsphotograph, Sein Werkzeug-Seine Arbeiten

“Asymmetry is the rhythmic expression of functional design. In addition to being more logical, asymmetry has the advantage that its complete appearance is far more optically effective than symmetry.” - Jan Tschichold

Jan Tschichold -- Modern Style Typographer

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