Research project, ECAL 2019


Bobst Graphic 1972–1981

Bobst Graphic, 1972–1981, with a preface by François Rappo, an interview with six important actors and further selected texts, documents, at a distance of 48 years, the hitherto relatively unknown history of a Bobst company division: Bobst Graphic, pioneers in photocomposition.

At the beginning of the 1970s, Bobst, a packaging company already far advanced in packaging manufacture, decided to start to sell its photocomposition machines with a view, amongst other things, to improving Swiss typographical quality. It started to manufacture a series of innovative photocomposition machines, patented by their French inventors, Hugonnet and Moyroud.

Bobst Graphic products, with their streamlined service and close collaboration with first-rate researchers, soon came to occupy a secure position in photocomposition, now called on to assume the mantle of a hundred-year-old traditional profession.

Numerous families of typographical characters were developed, some from scratch, with the help of many of the best graphic artists in the country, some, like Team 77, which boasted international renown. 

Despite the energy invested in these new inventions, and the signal advantage enjoyed by this division with its considerable in-house talents, the company faced stiff competition internationally, almost exclusively from the United States. Ultimately, financial difficulties obliged the firm to hand over its project to Autologic, an American company.

We are able, by exhibiting this archive, to tell a story which might never have received the attention it truly deserves within the context of Swiss graphic design.

Main applicant

Giliane Cachin (project leader)

Research team
François Rappo (researcher)
Davide Fornari (supervisor)
François Rappo (supervisor)

Supported by 

ECAL/University of Art and Design Lausanne
Strategic fund of the University of Applied Sciences Western Switzerland (HES-SO RCDAV)

Giliane Cachin (ed.), Bobst Graphic 1972–1981, Zurich: Triest verlag, 2019 (with contributions from Bruno De Kalbermatten, Robert Flach, Roland Jan, Christian Mengelt, Jean-Luc Monnard, Jean-Daniel Nicoud, François Rappo).

Launch of the Archives visuelles series, with Giliane Cachin, Davide Fornari, Sarah Klein, Robert Lzicar, Simon Mager, Andrea Wiegelmann, Zurich, Never Stop Reading, 29 January, 2020.

Claudia Gerdes, Bobst Graphic 1971–1981, in Page Magazine, March 2020, p. 62.

April 2017 – May 2019

Double page of Bobst Graphic — The light years of typography, by François Rappo, graphic design by Giliane Cachin. © Benoît Jeannet

Double pages of Bobst Graphic 1972–1981, graphic design by Giliane Cachin.

© Benoît Jeannet

Double page of Bobst Graphic 1972–1981, graphic design by Giliane Cachin, photocomposition systems by Eurocat. © Benoît Jeannet

Double pages of Bobst Graphic 1972–1981, graphic design by Giliane Cachin. 

© Benoît Jeannet