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    The modernist push for universal letters that characterized German type design after World War I had a reprise in Swiss type design after World War II. Switzerland became a center for cutting-edge graphic design in the '50s, and by the end of the decade two new sans-serif types had become associated with that milieu: Helvetica, designed by Max Miedinger (1910-80), and Univers, by Adrian Frutiger (b. 1928).

    These represented the latest attempt to make letters with no sense of place — indeed, that anonymity helps to account for their remarkably widespread use — and yet they were seen paradoxically as distinctly Swiss; indeed, the "neutrality" of these types seemed to belong to Switzerland with its traditions of political neutrality.

    The very names of the most successful of the Swiss sans-serifs demonstrate this paradox: "Univers" emphasizes the design's universality (and hence internationality), while Helvetica plays off the Latin name for Switzerland, "Confoederatio Helvetica."

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