Swissness Applied Branding

«Swissness Applied» is part of a larger research project that focuses on the transformation of European immigrant towns in the United States. These towns share the common aspiration of preserving and perpetuating the architectural charm of their cultural heritage to enhance the social and economic base of their community. The project contributes to the ongoing discussion on the role of imagery and cultural appropriation in architecture and urban design planning.
»New Glarus«, Wisconsin is an example of one of these towns. Its’ architectural elements accessorise the building to create an attractive Swiss appearance for visitors. To curate the setting, the building codes describe typical elements of the »Swiss Chalet« style that evoke certain associations with familiar traditional Swiss building types. Resulting in an evolution of the buildings’ front from the 1960s’ onwards. »Wisconsin’s little Switzerland«, one of many themed towns in America, is the most advanced example of this generative form of urban mutation.

The Swissness Applied exhibition series looks at the American town New Glarus from an architectural perspective, as a visual example of the challenges in contemporary social transformation on a global scale. The town originally founded by Swiss immigrants in 1845, adopted the visual identity of their heritage. Later in the 1950s, under economic pressure and the need to enhance tourism, new building regulations were formed, attempting to meet a more Swiss image by „swissifing“ the house styles.

The typical light, dynamic and decorative Calligraphic blackletter fonts as you can find them on old house facades in German speaking alpine regions such as in Switzerland, South Germany and Austria have been our source of inspiration. We developed a custom blackletter typeface, which formed the main part of the visual identity. The letter forms were adjusted and made more accessible to use in a contemporary design context. Aside from communicating a sense of Swissness it was also important to provide a visual time anchor, that points at the colonial times during which the town «New Glarus» came into existence from Swiss emigrants back then.

Additionally we designed a series of print products and developed an experimental website documenting the exhibition project while also functioning as a playground for the virtual visitor to explore the exhibition in a different context.

  • Client
    Architecture Office
  • Year