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
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