Summer 2016

A manual of hand-made Modernism

In 1949, a comprehensive portfolio by Swiss designer Walter Käch helped set the stage for postwar innovation in letterform design

In 1949 a loose-leaf manual was published in Switzerland entitled Schriften Lettering Écritures. It remains a most impressive book. The title of this fully trilingual publication, in German, English and French, gave only a modest indication of its contents. The title page added a distinction between ‘running hand’ or written, calligraphic letters and drawn ‘characters’. Yet none of the subtitles indicated that the author, Walter Käch, who was a designer and teacher at the Zurich Kunstgewerbeschule, had rendered a vista of the future of typeface design. More than 65 years ago this instructional portfolio made an outstanding contribution to Swiss letterform design in the twentieth century.


Schriften Lettering Écritures, 1949, is a loose-leaf manual of 100 pages devoted to hand-made letters that influenced Swiss Modernism.
Top: A highly condensed sans serif follows Käch’s scheme for modulated stress with a striking ‘O’ that evokes a velodrome.


Peter Bain, designer, writer, Birmingham, Alabama

Read the full version in Eye no. 92 vol. 23, 2016


Eye is the world’s most beautiful and collectable graphic design journal, published quarterly for professional designers, students and anyone interested in critical, informed writing about graphic design and visual culture. It is available from all good design bookshops and online at the Eye shop, where you can buy subscriptions and single issues. You can see what Eye 92 looks like at Eye before You Buy on Vimeo.


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