Hisory and Theory
of Graphic Design
April 29, 2013
Who is Hofmann?
Armin Hoffman is one of the most iconic designers of our time. He laid the groundwork for the development of the Swiss style and had effectively made a huge impact on not only the design community, but also the world as a whole. Hoffmann was best known for his work as a practicing graphic designer, creating posters in the Swiss style that he is so strongly tied to. His layouts are highly functional, notably simplistic, and rich in structure. Beyond his work in the business, Armin was also attributed to being both a practicing artist and a well-established educator of typography, an element that always had a huge presence within his work (“Armin Hoffman”, AIGA).
The impact that he had left on his students was immeasurable, often including lectures from outside of the classroom. He was known for taking his classes to not only see printed design work, but a number of great examples of modern architecture, as well as the work of the old masters. It was from these experiences that his students were taught to draw inspiration from the world around them. Paul Rand, a fellow graphic designer highly attributed the development of Swiss Modernism, put it well in saying “His goals, though pragmatic, are never pecuniary. His influence has been as strong beyond the classroom as within it. Even those who are his critics are eager about his ideas as those who sit at his feet.” (“Thinking Armin Hofmann” Thinking Form).
All About Armin
Armin Hofmann was born in the year of 1920 in Winterthur, Switzerland. His education in the craft began at the school of arts in crafts in Zuerich known as Kunstgewerbeschule. In the year 1943, he began work as lithographic print maker in Basel and Bern. During this time, he opened his own studio in Basel, where he was able to focus on his own work (“Armin Hoffman”, Design Is History). By the age 27, he had completed his apprenticeship in lithography and began his career as a professor of typography at Allgemeine Gewerbeschule, Basel. Hofmann continued his career as an educator for a short run at the Philadelphia Colleges of the Arts from 1955 to 1956 and then moved on to Yale, where he taught for nearly 35 years. In the year 1965, he
became a consultant for the National Design Institude in Ahmedabad, India while maintaining his position at Yale. Throughout each of these positions, Armin quickly rose to the top of his departments and solidified his lasting influences on the many students that he had taught (“Masters of Graphic Design” WW3).
Throughout this time, Hofmann’s love and focus for the educational system by no means served as a deterrent from his personal work and took no time away from the practice that he had so clearly contributed to. From the late 1940s to the early 1970s, Armin’s work was up for numerous awards. His poster designs continued to exhibit the best of his craft, focusing heavily on clean, simplified layouts that made the Swiss Modern movement the powerful force that it once was and at times still is today. Hofmann’s career took no breaks in the later years of his life. Up until the late 90s, his work was still being honored and appreciated by thousands, going on to earn 3 separate honorable mentions from the British Typographic Association and one official art award in Basil, the very same place that his phenomenal design career had got its start. (“Thinking Armin Hofmann” Thinking Form).
Armin still lives to this day, though he officially retired in 1987 (“Armin Hoffman”, Design is History). Though as one would hope to expect from such a tremendous talent, he still manages to keep busy will a number of personal projects today. Whether it be his own design career, teaching the craft that he has grown to know and love, or simply advising others to carry on the tradition of a great education, Hofmann’s...
Cited: Web. 29 Apr. 2013.
Application = Graphic Design Manual : Principles and Practice. Sulgen:
Niggli Verlag, 2004
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