Olivetti, advertisement, 1962. Designed by Walter Ballmer. Found on the back of Graphis 115, 1964

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Walter Ballmer’s Mid-Century Italian Graphic Design

Walter Ballmer was a Swiss graphic designer born in Liestal, Switzerland in 1923. He worked across various design disciplines including advertising design, packaging, typography and exhibition design.

He graduated from the School of Arts and Crafts in Basel under Hermann Eidenbenz and left Switzerland to reside in Milan, Italy in 1947. Milan attracted many commercial graphic artists in the 1950s. And it was no surprise that on arrival, Walter’s first studio appointment was at Studio Boggeri, where he remained for around a year. Studio Boggeri attracted major design talent and the agency’s design personnel has included Erberto Carboni, Bob Noorda, Bruno Monguzzi, Max Huber, Bruno Munari and many more. 

After his year at Studio Boggeri, Walter set up his own freelance practice. Attracting major clients such as Olivetti, Pirelli, Geigy and La Roche. He was an expert at using photography and took many of the client’s photos himself. This ensured he had photographs of the correct orientation and style to suit his designs. His design output had a perfect balance of unity, combining Swiss typography with minimal industrial photography. This balance of harmony can be seen in his work for Olivetti and his brand direction for Svialba.

One of his first editorial features was in Gebrauchgraphik, 1, 1958. The editor states: ‘His designs always show a complete unity of photo, drawing and typography and even a loving and understanding treatment of details which in no way jeopardises the advertising purpose.’
Raimund Hrabak – Walter Ballmer, Gebrauchgraphik, 1, 1958

 

Here is a selection of Walter Ballmer’s designs from a range of magazines in the archive, including back cover advertisements found on Graphis.

 

Olivetti, advertisement, 1962. Designed by Walter Ballmer.
Olivetti, advertisement, 1962. Designed by Walter Ballmer. Found on the back of Graphis 115, 1964

 

Magazine Advert for Olivetti designed by Walter Ballmer. Scanned from Graphic Design 17, 1964
Magazine Advert for Olivetti designed by Walter Ballmer. Scanned from Graphic Design 17, 1964

 

Walter Ballmer, Poster, 1961. Scanned from Transition of Modern Typography - Europe & America 1950s - '60s, 1996
Walter Ballmer, Poster, 1961. Scanned from Transition of Modern Typography – Europe & America 1950s – ’60s, 1996

 

Olivetti advertisements designed by Walter Ballmer. Scanned from Gebrauchgraphik, 1, 1958
Olivetti advertisements designed by Walter Ballmer. Scanned from Gebrauchgraphik, 1, 1958

 

Pirelli Prospectus Cover designed by Walter Ballmer. Scanned from Gebrauchgraphik, 1, 1958
Pirelli Prospectus Cover design by Walter Ballmer. Scanned from Gebrauchgraphik, 1, 1958

 

Pirelli Magazine Cover designed by Walter Ballmer. Scanned from Gebrauchgraphik, 1, 1958
Pirelli Magazine Cover design by Walter Ballmer. Scanned from Gebrauchgraphik, 1, 1958

 

Pirelli Prospectus Cover designed by Walter Ballmer. Scanned from Gebrauchgraphik, 1, 1958.
Pirelli Prospectus Cover design by Walter Ballmer. Scanned from Gebrauchgraphik, 1, 1958.

 

Pirelli Prospectus Cover designed by Walter Ballmer. Scanned from Gebrauchgraphik, 1, 1958.
Pirelli Prospectus Cover design by Walter Ballmer. Scanned from Gebrauchgraphik, 1, 1958.

 

Pirelli Catalogue Cover designed by Walter Ballmer. Scanned from Gebrauchgraphik, 1, 1958
Pirelli Catalogue Cover design by Walter Ballmer. Scanned from Gebrauchgraphik, 1, 1958

 

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