Anyone Can Swiss


I find this site kind of insulting but at the same time very funny. Anyone Can Swiss, by Dirk+Weiss, is a satire on the Swiss style of design. Type in some text, select the between Helvetica Light, Ultra Light, Roman, Heavy and Bold, select a type size and hit the Swissfy button. What comes out (above) is your text in white, in Helvetica, on a black canvas.

It’s a great laugh and I definitely get the joke but I hope that people don’t think it’s this easy to design in the Swiss style. Far from it.        

18 thoughts on “Anyone Can Swiss

  1. Those Dirk Weiss guys are a bunch of no good jerks!
    Looks to me like programmers with too much time on their hands.

    …and the joke continues

    xo – DW

  2. This is going to sound like heresy, but does someone mind explaining what’s so difficult about designing in the Swiss style? Besides a strong grid and use of Helvetica, I’ve found that the only thing difficult about it is convincing the client to use the Swiss concept here in the US.

  3. I don’t think anyone is suggesting that it’s difficult to design in the Swiss style. Whether it’s difficult or not is irrelevant. The difficulty doesn’t gauge the quality of the style.

    Design itself isn’t simple, which is what I was getting at. A line of code pumping out an image based on a some text isn’t design and can never compare to a design that’s been given attention and detail. Helvetica and a grid are just tools, you still need a good designer who knows how to use those tools.

    Claiming that the Swiss style is easy to reproduce, because you only need to use Helvetica and a grid, is simply not understanding graphic design.

  4. Thanks. I seriously needed that. Sometimes a jolt of sanity (and a refresh of the basics of design) can really help realign my misguided viewpoint.

  5. It would kind of be like saying, “What’s so hard about writing a song? All you need is a drum beat, guitar chords, a bass line, a vocal melody, and some structure. That’s all the Beatles did.”

    The thing is, it’s about composition, scale, type sensitivity, white space… etc. And, anyone could recreate JMB’s Opernhaus Zurich posters, but only after seeing them. He was the one who conceived that idea, worked out placements, sizes, spacing, colors, and composition. That’s what makes the work unique.

  6. I worked with Matt and went to school with them. They are both outstanding guys. They do a lot of work for AIGA Boston. This is absolutely a joke but rings true in some sense. With computer being used as more than tools the thought process of true calculated swiss design has gone out the window. That is why many young students completely overlook Brockmann because to them, it looks like nothing. Good job Matt!

  7. I don’t think the site meant to be a joke or a satire. He like the Swiss style (as far as I concern from his design products), and want people to use it easily.

  8. I think it’s good that some of this satire (regardless of its intentions) is starting to come out. It’s not poking at the Swiss style, but rather the imitations of Swiss style. This generation of designers (I am included in this generation) seem to want to visually replicate modern design without really understanding the social construct of what produced that work. It’s easy to gather inspiration from EJ after seeing some posters on ffffound, and I think some of the visual inspiration is starting to produce a lot of boring work. I don’t remember exactly, maybe it was Stuart Bailey in a recent dotdotdot who discussed this idea of “faux-modernism” for the 2000s, and I couldn’t agree more. There’s so much more to modernism than Brockmann and Helvetica, and it’s a shame that that’s all it really looks like from a glance.

  9. Some good discussion going on here but I have to agree with William, well done brotha.

    Jesse, I think Brockmann and Helvetica are so much associated with Modernism and the Swiss Style because they both revolutionized the movement. Not to mention that Brockmann is mainly responsible for an entire design style as well as being a pioneer of grid systems. I don’t see any shame in considering Brockmann’s work the pinnacle of modernism.

    Daus and DP, the site is definitely a satire. That was the main intention by the creators.

  10. I wasn’t trying to downplay Helvetica or Brockmann, I find both to be brilliant, but rather, I was trying to note that by replicating Brockmann’s posters with some structured helvetica you are not fulfilling any of what makes Brockmann so brilliant. It was mentioned above that his work could easily be recreated after it had been produced, the Swiss style was an incredibly versatile format for solving problems, but it didn’t derive out of thin air. They arrived at that style through vigorous methodology-and that’s what I think is lost in today’s representation of modernism, because although it was stylistically beautiful, that beauty came out of strong substance.

  11. Very interesting back and forth going on here. Now this is what I think blogs should be about instead of just popping in to say how much you like something (although i’m guilty there too, but this is such a refreshing change).

    The part that I find interesting is that the idea that “anyone can swiss” is disproved on their own website in their gallery. I was browsing through it and it seems that so many “posters” completely miss the mark. Most of them being the ones that are missing the finesse of swiss design that you need and as a designer can do. White space (or in their case, black space) is not existent in so many of them and destroys the feeling of the type. Along with the many other factors one must consider for good swiss design.

    Most of them, if i had showed it to my professors in school and said this is swiss design would have slapped me. Most of them had studied in Switzerland though, with many of the great designers in the time that it was actually occurring, so they have the real “permission” to slap me for it. If that makes sense.

    Not saying the site isn’t an interesting idea though. It got us talking, and that seems to be a good point for it to exist right there.

  12. Let me begin by saying, rock on josh. This is the most “real” discussion I’ve found about design in a long time. Truth be told, the entire project is an experiment in design discourse. I agree that MANY of the poster (if we could even really call them that since they’ve never existed outside the web) completely miss the mark of quality.

    That said, what are we seeing? We (DW) are seeing a phenomenal moment in design. Fifteen thousand designers (and amateurs alike) take part in something BIG – TOGETHER – SIMULTANEOUSLY.

    February – 2009 – Five thousand posters and counting in 36 hours. Matthew and I have collected EVERY visit. We read EVERY post and reply to every blog, website, and email. The project is disguised as a simpleton which makes it approachable. But as one visitor wrote “simple is stupid.” Be assured that Matthew and I take the project, its results and our responsibilities quite seriously. We believe that at this point, perhaps a comprehensive explanation would be premature.

    in any case, all our current success is owed to people like Antonio and blogs like Aisle One. Thank you again Antonio.

    brian – DW

  13. like everything that’s great in this world, it looks easy.
    have you seen phelps swim, or (a way older example) john mcenroe play tennis? you watch them and you say, pff…i can do that.

    that’s is the beauty of it.

  14. Just to update this post / thread about our AnyoneCanSwiss project:

    This past May, Dirk+Weiss, creators of AnyoneCanSwiss, recieved a top design award from the AIGA for their automatic Helvetica poster generator website phenomon,

    The “Best of New England Design” – B(oNE) – awards are handed out to only the best examples of design, every two years. Our site was selected out of over 500 entries from all of New England. Judges included Alan Dye, creative director at Apple and Will McGinness, creative director for Goodby Silverstein and Partners.

    Thanks to everyone for their support, especially Antonio, creator of

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