The Cultural
Turn in
Swiss Graphic

The research project “The Cultural Turn in Swiss Graphic Design from the 1980s to 2020” is funded by the SNSF Swiss National Science Foundation (Div. 1) and led jointly by Prof. Dr Davide Fornari (ECAL/University of Art and Design Lausanne, HES-SO) and Prof. Robert Lzicar (Bern Academy of the Arts HKB).

Call for contributions – research exchange

For the Sake of Creative Freedom: Graphic Design for the Cultural Sector

Date and Place

Friday 1 December 2023, 9:00–18:00
Bern Academy of the Arts HKB, Fellerstrasse 11, 3027 Bern, Switzerland


Chiara Barbieri, Jonas Berthod, Davide Fornari, Miriam Koban, Robert Lzicar


Call for Responses


The practice of and discourse on graphic design in Switzerland has undergone a paradigm shift from the 1980s onwards. In the 1950s and 1960s graphic design reached international recognition and commercial expansion under the label “Swiss style”. In the following decades, the attention of many practitioners, but also experts (curators, journalists and juries) turned away from design as a pure service for the industrial sector and moved towards cultural commissions on a local, national and international level, as well as self-directed projects. Instead of aiming for maximum financial return, they chose their commissions according to whether these promised them creative freedom and whether they contributed to the profiling of their portfolio in alignment with their new definition of the profession as a lifestyle. Designers sometimes refer to this practice as “cultural graphic design”. This phenomenon is analysed by the organisers of this research workshop in the framework of the SNSF-funded project “The Cultural Turn in Swiss Graphic Design 1980–2020”.

Call for critical contributions

The aim of this research exchange is to open up a collaborative process leading to contributions which will be published in a format to be determined collectively at the end of the day. We aim to explore the shift of graphic design towards the cultural sector not only in Switzerland, but also internationally in the time frame from 1980 to 2020, though contributions concerning shifts away from the cultural sector, critical approaches, different time frames and geographical areas are equally interesting. The research exchange seeks contributions from a wide range of perspectives including, but not limited to:

This one-day open forum is a sharing platform open to contributions that do not necessarily take the form of finished papers, and can encompass work in progress, different methodological approaches, exciting primary sources, presentations, round table conversations, panel discussions and other formats.

Deadline for Submission

Thursday 15 June 2023

Application and Assessment Process

All applications will be evaluated by the convenors who are committed to principles of equity, integrity and confidentiality in the treatments of all submissions. Applications must be received by Thursday 15 June 2023 for consideration via this form.

Application format

Any questions or queries regarding the application process can be addressed to

Selected applicants will be informed in writing and invited to participate in the conference, which will take place in Bern (Switzerland) on 1 December 2023.