Max Miedinger

Max Miedinger (* 24 December 1910 in Zurich; † 8 March 1980 ibid.) was a Swiss graphic designer and typographer. He is best known for designing the Helvetica typeface.

Max Miedinger
Max Miedinger


At the age of 16, from 1926 to 1930, Miedinger apprenticed as a type designer with the printer Jacques Bollmann in Zurich.

He did an apprenticeship as a typesetter at the Bollmann printing house in Zurich from 1926 to 1930, then went to the Zurich School of Arts and Crafts. From 1936 to 1946 he worked as a graphic designer for the Globus department stores' chain. Then he changed to Haas'schen Schriftgiesserei in Münchenstein near Basel, for which he worked as a customer adviser and salesman until 1956.

After completing his apprenticeship, he worked for various companies from 1930 to 1936, while attending evening classes at the Kunstgewerbeschule (School of Applied Arts) in Zurich1 . From 1936 to 1946 he worked as a typographer in the advertising workshop of the Globus department stores' in Zurich, and from 1947 to 1956 as a customer advisor and font salesman at the Haas foundry in Münchenstein and then in Basel.

From 1956 he worked as a freelance graphic designer and in the same year he was commissioned by the director of Haas'schen Schriftgiesserei to design a new Grotesk. In 1957, Miedinger delivered the Neue Haas Grotesk in a semi-bold cut, followed by the lean cut in 1958 and the bold cut in 1959. The typeface quickly became successful and was distributed internationally as Helvetica in 1960 and has been copied many times since.

During this period, he designed a typeface for Haas called Pro Arte, published in 1954.


Miedinger first worked as a salesman and typesetter at the Swiss type foundry Haas'sche Schriftgiesserei and from 1926 to 1930 learned letter cutting from Edouard Hoffmann, who was running the type foundry at the time.

Haas Grotesk or Helvetica

In his spare time, Miedinger worked on the commission to produce a more modern version of the now popular Akzidenz Grotesk. The result was the initially named "Haas Grotesk" and published in 1956 with the name Helvetica. This typeface suddenly came into use very quickly and today it is still a very popular typeface in the typographic world, because of its neutral character and friendly typographic properties and legibility.

At the time, adaptations were made to the typeface, issued under the banner of D. Stempel AG and Linotype, and the latter company even rewarded Miedinger with a generous amount of money.

Creation of Helvetica

Miedinger was back in Zurich as a freelance graphic designer when Edouard Hoffmann, the director of the Haas foundry, commissioned him to design a new typeface Grotesk2 in 1956. It was officially presented under the name Neue Haas Grotesk at Graphic 57, a major exhibition of the graphic industry held at the Palais de Beaulieu in Lausanne. Only the half-bold series (size 20) was presented2.

In 1960, completed by the lean, bold and italic series, the font is marketed under the name Helvetica. Neue Helvetica, based on the old Helvetica, was published by Linotype in 1983. All rights are transferred to Linotype in 1989.


Most famous typefaces:

Pro Arte 1954 a condensed slab serif. Undigitised.
Helvetica 1956-1960 also known as Neue Haas Grotesk
Helvetica Monospace
Helvetica Inserat
Helvetica Textbook
Horizontal 1965 a wide capitals design similar to Microgramma. Digitised as Miedinger.
Neue Helvetica
Monospace 821
Swiss 721
Swiss 921


  • Lewis Blackwell, Typo du xxe siècle, Flammarion, coll. "Arts graphiques", 215 p. (ISBN 978-2-08-011292-7).
  • Étapes magazine, design and visual culture (formerly Étapes graphiques).
  • Friedich Fridl, Typography. When, Who, How, Konemann Verlag, 1998, 292 p. (ISBN 978-3-89508-473-7 and 3-89508-473-5).
  • Damien Gauthier, Typographie, guide pratique, Paris, Pyramid, 1998, 100 p. (ISBN 978-2-910565-05-3 and 2-910565-05-X).
  • David Rault, Guide pratique de choix typographique, Atelier Perrousseaux, 256 p. (ISBN 978-2911220937)
  • Joep Pohlen, The Fountain of Letters: On Print Type, Fontana, 2011, 638 p. (ISBN 978-3-8365-2511-4 and 3-8365-2511-9).
  • Fabienne Siegwart, Typographie, du plomb au numérique, Dessain et Tolra, 2003 (ISBN 978-2-04-720093-3).
  • (Erik Spiekermann, FontBook: Digital Typeface Compendium, FontShop International (ISBN 978-3-930023-02-8).
  • (en) Type cosmic, 2003, 790 p. (ISBN 978-3-8228-9238-1).
  • Type-One: discipline and progress in typography, Die gestalten Verlag, 2004, 207 p. (ISBN 978-3-89955-056-6 and 3-89955-056-0).


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Graphic Design
International Style
International Typographic Style
Max Miedinger
Swiss Style
Swiss Style Typographers


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This page was last changed on 2021-09-22.