Max Bill & Jan Tschichold

I love Max Bill and I love Jan Tschichold. Generally, when I'm reading about historical debates between various Modernist avant-garde factions, if I'm honest, I'm often just rolling my eyes a little. Probably completely unfairly, I imagine them passionately arguing about the importance of the horizontal plane versus the diagonal over red wine while their wives are keeping an eye on dinner and the kids and sorting the socks. Yet, at the same time, it's such a privilege to take their ideas for granted. There's nothing I create that doesn't reference, borrow or build upon 20th century design.

Now, when it comes to the Swiss avant garde, I let them all off the hook. I am amazed every time at how beautifully the Swiss School analyzes type and space. Ernst Keller was successful in making "Swiss" a seal of quality, because when I see imitations on the internet, and there are a lot, there is a missing...something. Whatever sublime quality is evident when any object is crafted by a master.

I imagine the Swiss kept their passionate arguments very short, took notes, had a quick glass of water, and then hopped back to it at their desks (this is unsupported). So when I hear that Jan Tschichold, my favourite writer on the subject of typography and Max Bill, possibly my favourite Swiss School man got into it over the asymmetric (Bill) versus the symmetric (Tschichold), I am genuinely interested. The fight took place in the "Schweizer Graphiste Miteilungen" periodical on type in 1946. Jan Tschichold replied to a series of spreads published by Bill in the April issue with a layout of "Hafis", set classically, symmetrically, with a woodcut by Hans Arp in the June issue. He titled his reply "Belief and Reality". The pull that every designer feels, between the personal, the universal the theoretical and the practical, it's all in here.

Jost Hochuli and Robin Kinross, who detail the argument in "Designing Books", note that Bill supported his beliefs with catalogues and architectural layouts, while Tschichold, who had taken over at Penguin, supported his ideas with literary layouts. I think this points to the way in which what we design influences us. I rarely meet a book designer who is absolutist in their ideas and generally as a group we are pretty low key. As design positions go, it's a pretty humble one: most of the time your job is to keep your design underneath the material you're communicating.

Jan Tschichold

Jan Tschichold

Max Bill with his son, Jakob on

Max Bill with his son, Jakob on

to represent the life of a blade of grass

One of the essays in my 2nd year Typography class is FT Marinetti's  Distruction of Syntax.  I've always had mixed feelings about Marinetti.

Last year one of my students pulled a beautiful segment from it: represent the life of a blade of grass, I say, 'Tomorrow I'll be greener.'

I feel I'd only spoil that with an image, so there it is. Isn't it lovely? This is the full quote for context: The imagination without strings, and words-in-freedom, will bring us to the essence of material. As we discover new analogies between distant and apparently contrary things, we will endow them with an ever more intimate value. Instead of humanizing animals, vegetables, and minerals (an outmoded system) we will be able to animalize, vegetize, mineralize, electrify, or liquefy our style, making it live the life of material. For example, to represent the life of a blade of grass, I say, ‘Tomorrow I’ll be greener.’


coco love

This little pin floated past me on pinterest and has set me into a coconut love week. 


Firtsly, coconut milk and cacao powder with coffee in the morning instead of dairy milk. This makes you feel so good (and this is the first time I've been able to get milk out of my diet). I do: 1/8 cup coconut milk, I heaping teaspoon cacao powder and 3/4 cup iced coffe + a tiny squeeze of honey. Shake, pour over ice. Hot version is at modern parents, messy kids. Time to make: about 3 minutes.

Secondly, coconut cosmetics — I bought some extra virgin coconut oil for cooking and baking. I mixed a little bit with some vitamin e oil, put it in a little empty tea tin, and now I have eye cream. And I didn't test it on any animals. Time to make: about 2 minutes.

Thirdly, I tried this lime-coconut marinade. Super, super good. Time to make: about 20 minutes.

Updated: fourthly! You can make magic shell (you know, that chocolate that you squeeze onto ice cream and it immediately hardens into a shell) out of chocolate and coconut oil. And you can make a nice ice cream from coconut milk, strawberries & honey...on and on.

hutsul monograms

These is my monogram and auggie's monogram set in hutsulyandia 2D from you work for them


This is a dingbat font family is made up of folk ornaments found on Hutsul ceramics of the mid 19th to early 20th centuries. Hutsulshchyna is an ethnic region in the Ukrainian Carpathian Mountains where folk art and indigenous culture have been preserved. I like this part of their write up: "The font cheers up and evokes positive emotions."