D is for Design

… or distracted?! It’ll just have to be a double with E!

Well, back today with news for you – so far we’ve mainly had the traditional culture, architecture, scenery and so on. But Switzerland has another side, one of progressive ideas, brave designs and innovative inventions! There are more per capita inventions patented here than anywhere else (832 per million inhabitants) – Sweden is second with only half as many (402).

Yes, there are obvious ones: the Swiss Army knife (though I never tire of passing on the information that in fact, it’s the simple silver one that is the officer’s knife, not the fat and fancy red one!!), the Swatch or the Swissair logo. offiziersmesser

But what about the zip? A local chap changed the original invention by using  “ribs and ridges” and invented the famous “riri” brand and the zip as we know it (though the patent ran out and he died in a psychiatric clinic)! Velcro is another famous Swiss invention – “velvet” and “crochet” – smooth and hooked. The palm-held potato peeler? Yup. In every household in Switzerland!heute-sparschaelerAnother domestic invention is the rotary dryer, the epitomous Stewi seen everywhere here with washing blowing in the wind… or perhaps you don’t know that one?! stewi(check out Ursus… https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GPeNVYKaYZE – a Swiss institution we’re going to see on stage this weekend in his other incarnation with Nadeschkin: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UhPwQrcWoWQ

But let’s go a little bigger – did you know that Louis Chevrolet, a racing driver, was Swiss? Oh no, not American, Swiss 🙂 What about Charles-Édouard Jeanneret-Gris…? Better known as Le Corbusier, he is one of the most famous furniture designers and architects – did you think he was French or Belgian? Many do!le-corbusier-chaiseNot so long ago, we were marketed to carry water around with us all the time – but plastic bottles aren’t eco-friendly. So, use a SIGG bottle – made not a mile from where I live! Check out this fascinating clip https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1kqwqe5cOvE showing how they’re made.siggIn graphic design, there are a few big names: what about the standard Helvetica font? Invented by a Swiss, Max Miedinger.  HR Giger invented the Alien monster. Paul Klee was both graphic designer and artist. Jean Tinguely – artist and inventor… tinguely-01What about architects, in among all the beautiful farmhouses and art nouveau city houses we have here? Mario Botta – churchPeter Zumthor (back in Chur!) with his spa at Vals – therme-vals-searchfit-ch-spa-wellness-wellnessadressen-wellnessnews-graubnden or the famous Herzog & de Meuron and what they did at the Tate Modern – tate modernor their Vitra house just across the border in Germany – Vitra is Swiss, too: they produced many epic designs like the Eames and Panton chairs…VitraHaus-by-Herzog-de-Meuron-6-600x398In fact, minimalist and modern design are very apparent in Switzerland. Almost all new houses are far more modern than most you will see elsewhere and the Swiss tend to keep their interiors very pared back, too, and not to accumulate a lot of stuff. Their sense of quality over quantity leads them to choose a lot of “designer” objects in their homes – but I wonder how many realise how Swiss some things are?! Swiss roomLike those cupboards on the right? USM modules – another Swiss designer classic…

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2 thoughts on “D is for Design

  1. Delightful depiction! I believe Swiss practicality and precision are the reason they are so good at coming up with useful designs. Tinguely is the exception that proves the rule!

  2. I wish I could say that so many things are being invented here in the US, or even made in the US. Even water bottles? Ours come from abroad for the most part. ;-(

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