Josef Müller-Brockmann

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Josef Müller-Brockmann (born May 9, 1914 in Rapperswil ; † August 30, 1996 in Unterengstringen ) was a Swiss graphic designer , typographer , author and teacher .


Müller-Brockmann was a leading theorist and practitioner of Swiss typography . He worked as a graphic artist since 1952 . 1957-1960 he was at the School of Applied Arts Zurich , at the 1963 Academy of Design in Ulm a lecturer. He was a member of the International Center for the Typographic Arts ( ICTA ) in the 1960s .

Müller-Brockmann worked as a designer for the porcelain manufacturer Rosenthal AG in Selb , Germany, IBM Europe, Olivetti and the Swiss Federal Railways .

He was awarded the "Honorary Designer for Industry" by the Royal Society of Arts in London in 1988, with the "Gold Medal of the Canton of Zurich for Cultural Merit" in 1987 and won the "Middleton Award" from the American Center for Design in Chicago in 1990 and the Federal Design Award 1993.

Steivan Liun Könz worked for Müller-Brockmanns for a year.

Müller-Brockmann was married to the Japanese artist Shizuko Yoshikawa (* 1934) since 1967 .

Müller-Brockmann's approach to design

Josef Müller-Brockmann's way of working was strongly in the service of the respective topic to be worked on. He preferred a matter-of-fact approach that was primarily intended to convey thoughts and only secondarily to be regarded as an artistic form. The graphic form should be subordinate to the topic.

Müller-Brockmann's development began with illustration, but he soon switched to "factual graphics", which seemed more objective to him. He constructed his works mainly from geometric shapes, the proportions and distances of which were in a strict mathematical relationship, as well as from typographical elements. He only used sans serif fonts . By dispensing with ornaments and the resulting objectivity and better legibility, they seemed more useful to him.

For the composition of the picture elements he used a grid system , which he described in more detail in his book Grid systems in graphic design / grid systems for visual design .

The graphic profession as seen by Josef Müller-Brockmann

According to Josef Müller-Brockmann, the profession of graphic designer is one of the most universal artistic professions. Müller-Brockmann demanded that graphic designers should have technical, economic and cultural skills in addition to creative skills.

Since the field of advertising encompasses all professional areas, graphic designers in Müller-Brockmann's view should also be able to grasp the economic and cultural significance of a problem. In general, he was convinced of the great scope of the creative work, which should also deal with social and societal issues.

If the graphic artist's work is implemented in print, the best results are achieved when the graphic artist also has technical knowledge. In this way, he can monitor the reproduction process himself and already knows the possibilities and limits of technology when designing the printed matter. Josef Müller-Brockmann put his views into practice in teaching at the Zurich School of Applied Arts and the Ulm School of Design. He also wrote a chapter on “systematic training for graphic designers” in his book Gestaltungsprobleme des Grafikers .


  • Design problems of the graphic artist . Teufen 1961.
  • History of visual communication . Teufen 1971.
  • History of the poster . Zurich 1971.
  • Grid systems in graphic design / grid systems for visual design . Teufen 1981.
  • My life: serious play and serious play . Baden 1994.
  • Lars Müller: Josef Müller-Brockmann . Baden 1994.


  • Willi Rotz: Exhibition graphics by Josef Müller-Brockmann. In: Architektur und Kunst, Vol. 36, 1949, pp. 171–175 ( digitized version ).

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