Universal Typeface. Innovation without Style


  • Dario Russo University of Palermo




innovation, typography, graphic design, history, experimentation


The Bauhaus (1919-1933) has marked history. This school was animated by some of the most significant Twentieth-century artist-designers, from Gropius to Kandinskij, from Itten to Moholy-Nagy, not related to an unambiguous approach. However, the idea of the Bauhaus, which innervated the debate and the practice of the project in Europe and in the USA (and beyond) for decades, has resulted into some kind of International Style which, in typography, corresponds to the Universal typeface of Herbert Bayer (1925). This article aims to highlight how the universal typeface, that today represents the ‘style’ of Modernity, was in the beginning innovation in its purest: a configuration aimed at effect, to achieve maximum result with minimum effort, both from an economic and technical-productive, and from a functional point of view, readability and visual perception; and how the most interesting aspect is not the form itself – re-proposed, equal to itself, for almost a century – but its underlying design principle.


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Author Biography

Dario Russo, University of Palermo

Architect and PhD, he is an Associate Professor of Industrial Design at the Department of Architecture, where he coordinates the Degree Course in Industrial Design. He has published several essays on design and visual communication, including FFreee Graphics e Il Design dei nostri Tempi.
E-mail: dario.russo18@unipa.it


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How to Cite

Russo, D. (2019) “Universal Typeface. Innovation without Style”, AGATHÓN | International Journal of Architecture, Art and Design, 5(online), pp. 137–144. doi: 10.19229/2464-9309/5152019.



Design | Essays & Viewpoint