NESHAN, The Iranian Graphic Design Magazine

Member of International Council of Design ico-D

English | فارسی

Neshan 26


Jan Tschichold’s Typographische Gestaltung; A reference manual for modernist design

Richard B. Doubleday

By the time he arrived in Switzerland in 1933, Jan Tschichold (1902-1974) had established himself as the chief spokesman for the New Typography.  He had already expounded on asymmetric layout, sans serif typography, and constructivist typographic methods in his 1925 article Elementare Typographie (Elemental Typography) and in Die neue Typographie (The New Typography), published in 1928. In 1935, two years after his arrival in Switzerland, Tschichold published Typographische Gestaltung (Typographic Design), a definitive writing on modernist graphic design. With Typographische Gestaltung, Tschichold stayed true to his belief in modernist principles and conveyed to his readers the value of asymmetric typography to modern visual communications. Typographische Gestaltung continues to elaborate on the principles Tschichold advocated in Die neue Typographie, but is much less dogmatic on the virtues of the New Typography and asymmetrical design. The book illustrates in great detail the application of asymmetrical typographic design for designers and compositors, and presents numerous reproductions of book layouts and examples of 20th century avant-garde modernist design.

Typographische Gestaltung was intended as a “how to guide” for typographers applying the principles of asymmetric typography and set forth typographical details for the planning of books for the printing trade. The bulk of the book served as a reference manual for designers and compositors. The book’s format is divided into several sections, beginning with a historical survey, continuing with a statement of the meaning and aims of the “new” or functional typography, and ending with an examination of the visual harmony of the book as a whole. A cautious Benno Schwabe required 200 pre-publication orders as a condition to print Typographische Gestaltung. Any concerns on the part of the publisher turned out to be unfounded; it received 1,000 orders from its subscribers. Benno Schwabe later published Typographische Gestaltung in Danish and Swedish in 1937. In 1938, the Amsterdam printer Franz Duwaer published Typographische Gestaltung in Dutch. In 1945, Ruari McLean translated and revised Typographische Gestaltung in English. He was unable to find a publisher until 1967, when Messrs Cooper & Beatty, Limited, of Toronto sponsored its publication, and it was published as Asymmetric Typography by Reinhold Publishing Corporation of New York. Typographische Gestaltung has become a typographic classic, with its examination of asymmetrical typography, refined purpose and objectives of the New Typography, and the treatment of exact typographic details and elements. An important document of the New Typography, it has had a significant impact on students and scholars of the graphic arts and continues to be read as a design history resource.

Richard B. Doubleday

Richard B. Doubleday is an associate professor of graphic design at the LSU School of Art. He is a former senior lecturer in the Master of Arts in Graphic Design program at Suffolk University and assistant professor of art in the Department of Graphic Design at Boston University’s College of Fine Arts. He is currently the co-education director of the New Orleans chapter of the Professional Association for Design (AIGA) 2012–17. His writings on design history have been published in Baseline, IDEA, A! DISEÑO, Print, NOVUM, Design & Packaging China, IdN, Zhuangshi, and Australian Creative, and Doubleday has written extensively on the typographer, book designer, and writer Jan Tschichold. Doubleday was a guest juror at the Tokyo Type Directors Club Annual Awards and a contributing writer for the Tokyo TDC Vol. 20.

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