SBB FFS SBB – an example of the history of Swiss design

The architecture, industrial design and visual communication of the Swiss Federal Railways are at the center of the exhibition "SBB CFF FFS" at the Museum für Gestaltung of the Ausstellungsstrasse in Zurich. The show lasts from August 3, 2019 to January 5, 2020.

With original objects, photographs, posters, video and sound installations, Commissioner Andres Janser documents the history of SBB design since its inception in 1902, also focusing on the mobility of the future.

The large museum space on Ausstellungsstrasse has turned Janser into a station hall. In the midst of many exhibitions, a miniature railway makes the rounds. Wooden rails invite visitors to build their own railway line. The public can also install on old train seats and compare them with the latest models.

A company that belongs to the whole country: it embodies the logo of Hans Hartmann company with Swiss cross. Josef-Müller-Brockmann associated this seal with blue boards for the station signs and the company logo. Its information system is still able to channel the increasing flow of passengers, as the Museum für Gestaltung writes.

In the early decades, SBB also engaged eminent designers such as Emil Cardinaux, Hans Erni and Herbert Leupi. From the 1950s, the text editor Werner Belmont forged worms as catchy as perennial worms. Hans Thöni ("The Kluge travels on the train") or Mark Zeugin ("Gute Idée SBB") translated them.

With the emergence of marketing in the 1980s, multi-year campaigns by organizations such as GGK or Jung von Matt shaped the appearance of CFFs.

Other key words of the exhibition include the Rochettaz viaduct of 1902, the light steel wagon of Otto and Heinrich Pfister, 3rd class of 1937, the Hans Hilfiker station clock with the red second trowel of 1944, the 1985 train driver's clothing and the 1990's Arnold Amsler or Santiago Calatrava. and Werner Rüeger designed the Bahnhof Stadelhofen in Zurich and the remarkable Basler Signal Station, built according to plans by Herzog & Meron.

More recently, the expansion of the rail network has increasingly moved underground. It is worth mentioning the 2000 railway tunnels and the NEAT tunnels. With its vast underground extension, Zurich's main train station can accommodate more than a third of the country's 1.25 million daily rail passengers.

The great importance of railway stations in urban planning in the 21st century also shows examples of controversy around Zurich's main train station – from the failed HB Südwest project to the realization carried out by Europaallee.


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