The Karl Gerstner design archive

"Just as Dürrenmatt disguised literature as detective stories, so I created everyday art without forcing people into museums." Those are the words of Karl Gerstner, looking back on more than 30 years as a graphic designer.

The archives of Swiss legends Friedrich Dürrenmatt and Karl Gerstner can be found in the Swiss National Library. Gerstner is one of the most important innovators in typography, commercial art and corporate design. He set up his own graphic design studio in 1949 and was soon being commissioned to produce work for Ciba-Geigy. There he met Markus Kutter, with whom he established the Gerstner + Kutter advertising agency in 1959. They were later joined by Paul Gredinger, and in 1963 the firm expanded to become GGK (Gerstner, Gredinger, Kutter). In the 1970s it became one of the most successful advertising agencies in Switzerland, with offices in other European countries and the US. Towards the end of the 1970s, Gerstner also subtly yet unmistakeably revamped the corporate identity of Swissair, with a new logo intended to take the company towards 2000...

In 2012, The Federal Office for Culture awarded the "Grand Prix Design" to Karl Gerstner.

Like the literary estate of Friedrich Dürrenmatt, the design archive of Karl Gerstner has been catalogued in the HelveticArchives database. It comprises advertising campaigns, including the drafts and preparatory work that preceded them, as well as typeface and book designs and editions. The following selection of prominent examples offers a brief insight into the design archive of Karl Gerstner. It includes historical prospectuses for furniture companies, advertisements for drinks manufacturers, design proposals for the Swissair signet and livery, as well as draft versions of a cartoon trailer for a television programme.