Josef Müller-Brockmann

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


Müller-Brockmann was a leading theoretician and practitioner of Swiss typography. He had been working as a graphic designer since 1952. From 1957 to 1960 he was a lecturer at the Kunstgewerbeschule in Zurich, and in 1963 at the Hochschule für Gestaltung in Ulm. 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, the "Gold Medal of the Canton of Zurich for Cultural Merit" in 1987 and won the "Middleton Award" of the American Center for Design in Chicago in 1990 and the Swiss Federal Prize for Design in 1993.

Steivan Liun Könz worked for Müller-Brockmann for one year.

Müller-Brockmann was married to the Japanese artist Shizuko Yoshikawa (1934-2019) from 1967.

Müller-Brockmann's design approach

Josef Müller-Brockmann's working method was strongly in the service of the respective theme to be worked on. He preferred a factual approach that was primarily intended to convey thoughts and only secondarily to be regarded as an artistic form. The graphic form was to be subordinated to the theme.

Müller-Brockmann's development began with illustration, but he soon moved on to "objective graphics", which seemed more objective to him. He constructed his works mainly from geometric forms, whose proportions and distances were in strict mathematical relation to each other, as well as from typographic elements. He exclusively used grotesque fonts as typefaces. By dispensing with ornaments and the resulting objectivity as well as better legibility, they seemed more appropriate 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 / Rasterysteme für die visuelle Gestaltung.

The Graphic Design Profession as Seen by Josef Müller-Brockmann

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

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

When the graphic designer's work is translated into print, the best results are achieved when the graphic designer also has technical knowledge. This way, he can supervise the reproduction process himself and already knows the possibilities and limits of the technique when designing the printed matter. At the Kunstgewerbeschule in Zurich and at the Hochschule für Gestaltung in Ulm, Josef Müller-Brockmann also applied his views concretely in teaching. He also wrote a chapter on "systematic graphic designer training" in his book Gestaltungsprobleme des Grafikers.

Outstanding achievements


  • Poster Protect the child, for the Swiss Automobile Club (1953)
  • Beethoven poster, for the Tonhalle in Zurich (1955)
  • Der Film poster, for the Kunstgewerbemuseum Zurich (1960)
  • Signage for the Swiss Federal Railways (1993)

Typographic fonts

  • Olivetti Candia, a fixed-cast typeface, commissioned in 1968 by Olivetti for its "golf ball" technology typewriters. This font has inspired several digital reinterpretations, including Lettera (2008), by typographer Kobi Benezri9, and Josef, by the Carvalho Bernau studio.


  • 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 / Rasterysteme für die visuelle Gestaltung. Teufen 1981.
  • My life: playful seriousness and serious play. Baden 1994.
  • Lars Müller: Josef Müller-Brockmann. Baden 1994.


  • Willi Rotzler: Exhibition graphics by Josef Müller-Brockmann. In: Architektur und Kunst, vol. 36, 1949, pp. 171-175 (digital copy).


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Graphic Design
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Josef Müller-Brockmann
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This page was last changed on 2021-09-22.