searching for swiss design destinations

Jenny Lee, a swissmiss reader is about to travel to Switzerland, asked me the following question:

As a designer and avid type fan, I mainly associate Switzerland as the mecca of European design. Are there any places you suggest that are a must for a designer to visit?

Any swiss readers out there with some insider tips?

40 Comments leave a comment below

  1. A few ideas to start with:

    Therme Vals

    Museum of Design, Zurich

    Hotel Greulich, Zurich

  2. I think the Vitra-House near Basel is a great place. Although it’s in Germany (2 min. away from the Swiss border) you can say it belongs a little bit to Switzerland. :) Designed by Herzog & de Meuron. Here’s a link to the house:

    Greetings from Switzerland

  3. To cover also the French and Italian speaking part of Switzerland

    Hotel Palafitte in Neuchatel

    Mountain church by Mario Botta in Valle Maggia

  4. There’s also a design museum in Basel. I don’t know quite where, but their posters are quite inspiring.

  5. Take a look at the new Rolex Learning Center on the EPFL campus in Lausanne. Awesome!

  6. in zurich, there’s always the bookshop “orell füssli krauthammer” at marktgasse 12 in the niederdorf (oldtown of zurich), its the biggest design books store here that i know of. not that many books specialised on type, but some. its near the station ratshaus, accessible with tram nr. 4 and 15. the museum of design also has a small book shop in the entrance hall.

    the design museum’s smaller «poster room» (across the street from the actual museum) is nearly always worth a visit if it’s open. from september to december there’s an exhibition about type-focused posters.

    depending on when she travels: right now all design schools have their graduation exhibitions. the one in zurich runs until the end of the week, bern will start at the end of the week, lausanne will also begin sometime next week if i’m not mistaken, and i think lucerne will have it’s grad exhibition sometime at the end of june.

  7. hi..i’m from Portugal so i’ll suggest you this link:

    “Experimenta is a knowledge production unit operating in design, architecture and design culture.

    Experimenta’s field of action is contemporary cultural production, observed from an inclusive, multidisciplinary and transversal perspective. Experimenta’s activity combines critical thinking, concept development and creative up-to-dateness, resulting in a consistent and incisive intervention in the social, cultural and economic contexts it engages.

    Based in Lisbon, the Portuguese capital, Experimenta has achieved international projection through the development of high-profile projects, as well as the partnerships and collaborations established with a network of institutions, agents and creative practitioners from all over the world.

    Strongly committed to innovation and open to new challenges and contributions, Experimenta is an enterprising work and discussion platform which views culture as a key element for sustained development in contemporary society.”

  8. Chreis 4 and Chreis 5 Zurich.

    Jam packed with brilliant small artisan, design and fashion shops, (like the Freitag container skyscraper and the new viaduct shops), delis, thrift shops – multiculti pure.

    Real swiss urban life without the kitsch and kommerz.

    Oh and then there’s Graubünden. home to the most exciting architecture in the alps (Vals is there too).

  9. definitely VITRA museum just across the Swiss border! (;

  10. simon is right. kreis 4 and 5 (kreis are the zurich districts) are by far the most interesting urban places in switzerland in terms of design (and also in many other ways).

  11. Paris, France. Turn any direction and there is design. (Sorry, couldn’t resist) ;-)

  12. Neumarkt 17 in the old town of Zurich, very interesting architecture and a fine selection of furniture:

  13. Being a type fan, visit the Basel School of Design ( and try to meet Wolfgang Weingart (

    From a wider perspective (beyond typography), in Germany but very close to the border, it could interesting to pay a visit to the HfG-ulm Archiv ( in Ulm where you would find an interesting collection of all the things produced in the famous Hochschule für Gestaltung, legacies from Otl Aicher, Tomás Gonda and Walter Zeischegg among many other interest things.

  14. Probably the biggest printing museums i’ve been to and i must say i was blown away with their huge type collection.

    Museum of Printing Arts Leipzig

    : >

  15. The Stampa Gallery in Basel

  16. Thanks guys. Seems like the area has a lot to offer. Can’t wait to see it.

  17. inhale some good high-altitude air in the Wallis and let nature inspire you

  18. These comments are much appreciated, as I too am traveling to Zurich next month.

  19. Visit the Freitag Store in Zürich. It’s pretty cool.

  20. only every two years, the next time next november:

  21. Don’t forget about the capital, Bern:

    westside center by Daniel Libeskind

    “There’s nothing like this anywhere else in the world. This seamless coexistence of shopping centre, senior citizens’ residence, hotel and leisure facilities in harmony with nature, the new Brünnen residential superstructure and buildings in the old part of Bern close by is unique.”

    or the Paul Klee Center

    Enjoy your stay!

  22. I would recommend Sweden instead of Switzerland if you are looking for design.

  23. also, Motto at Perla Mode ( ) for more independent publishing.

  24. The museum für Gestaltung in Zurich is really good, and there is a permanent wallpapers exhibition just next to the museum.

    In Lausanne there is the MUDAC

    And also the Paul Klee centre which is also interesting for its architecture

  25. Stiftsbibliothek St.Gallen!
    St.Gallen generell

    Sorry, no english :-(

  26. It’s so nice that you will come and visit Switzerland! Welcome, welcome! I think too, that Freitag Store and the Vitra Museum are places you shouldn’t miss. And if you go to Freitag then don’t miss the restaurant just next to it. It’s name is Rosso, best pizza in town and a very cool place to spend some hours.

  27. Definitely check out the Vitra Museum at Weil am Rhein as well. Architecture from Gehry, Hadid and Ando. And great product design as well!

    And you will need to book Vals Spa in advance!

    Also check-out the famous “Railway Watch” by Hans Hilfiker at every SBB station ;-) He also created the standardized swiss kitchen.

  28. If you meant outside of Switzerland, Copenhagen and Stockholm both have unbelievable design museums!

  29. If you go to the district (Kreis, also 4 and 5 in Zurich you should consider checking out the stores who participated at ‘Kreislauf 4&5’ ( recently.
    It was a two days ‘open door’ event. What’s handy for you is that you can go to their webpage and download the map of the stores that participated. This way you don’t need to search for them and have them all together and where to take a coffee break.

    Also rent a free bike, so you don’t get too tired too quickly ( and you’ll see all shops in one day! Including the above mentioned Freitag store and the museum of Gestaltung…

  30. ah and! Check out the tours of they offer architectural tours.
    I never tried them, but looks interesting to me aswell.

  31. The baths in Vals!!! They are amazing and there is a Saint Benedict Chapel not far from there also by Zumthor.

    And Basel is a great little city with the Vitra Design Museum near by. Architects Herzog and de Meuron are also located in Basel I believe.

  32. you have to visit

    -einzigart, a little shop behind zurich mainstation, products from swiss designers:
    -thema selection, a wonderful shop in the Niederdorf, textile design from swiss designers:
    -sibler, a witty and unique kitchenshop, near
    -nepomuk, swiss childhood memories, books, children furniture:
    -limited stock, wonderful design pieces and rarities
    -hochparterre: new architecture and design bookshop, more independent than krauthammer:

    wish you fun!

  33. MILAN!!!

  34. Well as many people mentioned you have to visit the Vitra museum and since that would take you to Basel anyway you definitely should check out the fondation Beyeler- Art, Landscape and Architecture harmonize wonderfully not to mention that they tend to have really interesting exhibitions and therefore make for a really wonderfull museum visit. And Basel is great anyway.

  35. The Natural History Museum in Bern.
    Poster designer Claude Kuhn is a dear if you get the chance to meet him. He does all the branding/advertising for the museum and has some of his amazing posters for sale in the shop. The museum itself is great and the exhibit design inspiring and educational.

    I’ve studied 4 consecutive summer design programs in Switzerland through my university and Switzerland is a graphic design wonder. Everything from their beautiful posters on the street to the perfectly stacked woodpiles at the high mountain chalets are examples of the Swiss design aesthetic. This is where design was born!

    Enjoy your stay in this wonderful place!

  36. The Netherlands is Design on steroids. All you had to do was look at the Dutch Guilder (designed most notably by Ootje Oxenaar) and you knew it wasn’t Kansas. (Replaced by the visually flaccid Euro.)

    Amsterdam, The Hague, and Rotterdam dominate but, Amsterdam is great to start for visiting studios and designers. Anthon Beeke, Mevis and van Deursen, Irma Boom,, the list goes on, plus 3D design like Droog, are in Amsterdam.

    Berlin is an art and design rising mecca at the moment.

    Paris is great too. When the EU opened up, some Dutch designers moved to Paris to work as well as in other parts of the EU. I think this had a strong typographic and conceptual influence on the French studios who they worked for (still to this day). French design has been great the past 20 years or so. But it is not covered very much by the English speaking U.S. publications and now web sites.

    London for one final Western Europe city. Too much to name. Warsaw and Prague for Eastern Europe.

    But the great thing about design in Europe is it is happening all over. Athens and Thessaloniki in Greece has many interesting emerging designers as well as older studios.

    This phenomena is world wide with interesting design happening in unexpected places as the middle class grows.

  37. regarding zurich, again a few:

    check this NYT travel guide to zurich:

    in it the löwenbrauareal is noted (point 4), they leave out daros exhibitions in there though:

    a few walking minutes from there is the hochparterre architecture/design shop with loads of books and magazines. it’s at Gasometerstrasse 28, see the following map:,+z%C3%BCrich&sll=37.0625,-95.677068&sspn=44.204685,93.076172&ie=UTF8&hq=hochparterre,&hnear=Zurich,+Switzerland&ll=47.384208,8.529296&spn=0.002317,0.005681&z=18&iwloc=A&cid=16700061112059529193

    make sure to check , also noted in the article. it features a good list of design in kreis 4 and 5 of zurich.

    a note regarding 8) in the article (nightlife). zukunft is a hip club, and a place to go to after 2am. bar3000 is the coffeeshop/bar part of it. is a fun 50ies/60ies/70ies design shop which is also a coffeeshop and a bar – you can sit on design classics and buy everything in there. it’s a minute away from kunsthaus (the main art museum), and two minutes by tram from the lakeside (Bellevue).

  38. I disagree that Swiss is the only place for european design!

    Come to Sweden scandinavian design is of highest quality :)

  39. If you go to the Kreis 4 + 5 you should check out our website. We are going to launch a tool call design district with the *best* 100 shops and galleries in the Kreis 4+5.

    And of course, if you need a nice place to stay, you should stay @ the Designhotel Greulich!