Switzerland is one of the world's design capitals, and good design is part of the Swiss lifestyle. The Swiss are responsible for many of the influential designs that structure the way we experience daily life.
Proving simplicity is key in good design, these are just a few of the most iconic Swiss designs and the creators behind them.
Swiss Army Knife
The first Swiss Army Knife was produced in 1891 in Ibach, Switzerland by a company which later became Victorinox. Karl Elsener, the owner of the company at the time, was under contract by the Swiss Army to produce a folding pocket knife to be suitable for use by soldiers for opening canned food and disassembling the Swiss service rifle.
Elsener invented a special spring mechanism allowing him to attach the tools on both sides of the handle, using the same spring to hold the tools in place. This innovative design meant Elsener could put twice as many features on the knife, which included a blade, a second smaller cutting blade, reamer, can-opener, screwdriver, corkscrew, and wood fiber grips.
The Swiss Army Knife is the most recognizable icon of utility and smart design, and the knives are still made exclusively in only two factories in Switzerland.
The first peeler, the 'Rex' peeler, was designed by Alfred Neweczerzal in Davos, Switzerland in 1947. Ergonomically designed to prevent the blade from cutting deeper into the vegetable, the Rex peeler has a pivoted sharp tempered steel blade, a side knife for cutting out the eyes of potatoes, and a wide, curved handle for a comfortable grip.
While there are many copy cats today, the original peeler is unbeatable and outlasts the others in functionality and durability. The sleek lines and minimalist construction make the Rex peeler a Swiss design classic.
It is a well-known fact that Swiss watches dominate the watchmaking industry. In the 20th century, Swiss watchmakers made remarkable innovations with additional features to their watches such as calendars and stop watch functions, the first waterproof watch, the first automatic watch (1926), and the first quartz watch in 1967 in Neuchâtel. The Swiss solidified their dominance in the watchmaking industry by re-inventing the watch with the Swatch, the analog quartz watch that combines high quality with low price, which was first presented in 1983. "Swiss made" watches are synonymous with high-quality, functionality, and reliability.
Possibly the most ubiquitous typeface in the world, Helvetica was created by Max Miedinger in 1956 at the Haas Type Foundry in Switzerland and is considered an icon of modern typography. Originally called Neue Haas Grotesk, the typeface was designed to be neutral and unobtrusive to leave room for the user's self-expression and support the reading process with its clean, straightforward style.
Helvetica quickly became a hallmark of contemporary Swiss graphic design, and today the typeface has inundated our daily lives, seen everywhere from product logos, to websites, to packaging, to signs, and more.