Max Bill

Max Bill is considered to be the single most decisive influence on Swiss graphic design with his theoretical writing and progressive designs starting in the 1950's. Bill was born in Winterthur, Switzerland in 1908 and started early at an apprenticeship with a silversmith in 1924. Though he quickly changed course after discovering the architecture of Le Corbusier. His formal schooling at The Bauhaus at Dessau included time under Wassily Kandinsky, Paul Kleeand and Oskar Schlemmer from 1927 - 1929.  In 1930 he opened a studio in Zürich and concentrated on sculpture, painting, and architecture while earning his living in advertising.

As Bill was both a designer and artist, his aim was to create design that could be enjoyed by the senses, as art. His many public sculptures in Europe and the US included the first retrospective. Bill himself became a professor at the Kunstgewerbeschule Zürich in 1944. And in 1953, along with Inge Aicher-Scholl and Otl Aicher, founded the Ulm School of Design in Ulm, Germany. He designed the building and the cirriculum and was director of the department of architecture and product design there. The design school was initially built in the tradition of the Bauhaus and later developed into a new design approach incorporating art and science, complete with field studies.

Tour the Ulm School

Photos by Georg Aerni

From 1967 - 1974 he served as a professor of environmental design at the State Institute of Fine Arts in Hamburg and in 1987 he received the Frank J. Malina Leonardo Award for lifetime achievement, presented by Leonardo/The International Society for the Arts, Sciences and Technology and in 1993 he received the Japan Art Association’s Praemium Imperiale prize for his sculpture.

Max bill passed on December 9, 1994 at his home in Berlin.

Tour Max Bill's house and studio outside Zürich, Switzerland

Photos by Georg Aerni