Respect for the text
How do you design a book about the Palace of the Republic in Berlin that focuses on its architecture and the way it is embedded in the history of the GDR? The graphic artist and book designer Stephan Müller realized an austere-looking cover and a highly individual concept for the publication 'Ein Palast und seine Republik' (2001). When choosing a graphic grid he turned, almost like a design researcher, to a type of modern layout that was widespread in the GDR. When choosing the font he also followed the GDR graphic design of the period and opted for 'Helvetica', which was one of the typefaces most used in the GDR days, against the background of its rationalism and functionalism. And to go the whole way with the concept, there had to be some red on the cover. This had 'supported the state' to an extent in the GDR, said the designer when commenting on his choice of colour. The exciting feature of this book is precisely that the design is austere and modern, and contrasts starkly with the pictorial section. A large number of photographs record the lavish interior of the GDR Palace, scattering an insistent Eastern chic around them.
Stephan Müller has often won awards in the 'Most Beautiful Swiss Books' competition over his working years, and also received the Federal Department of Culture's Jan-Tschichold Prize. He always manages to find the appropriate visual language for each project, and to show great respect in his treatment of the text. Stephan Müller also likes devising sign systems and fonts (he and Cornel Windlin have been running the Lineto font label since 1998). A glance at a publication he designed, 'Terror und der Krieg gegen ihn', for example, where essay texts are confronted with pages of pictograms, shows that sign systems also take on a life of their own in his work, effectively becoming images in their own right.