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IXD101- Project 2 – Universal Declaration of Human Rights

For 101, our second project was to design a poster for the Universal Declaration of Human Rights using the previous knowledge we had obtained from previous unit such as point, line and plane and we were to implement this into our poster design. Before I began designing concepts for the posters, I researched numerous designers for inspiration.

Josef Muller-Brockmann

Before I began designing concepts, I decided to research Swiss graphic designer Josef Muller-Brockmann who’s work consists of typography and geometry influenced by the Bauhaus movement. Born in 1915, Josef began his career studying the history of art, design and architecture and later opened his own studio in 1936, becoming a specialist in graphic design. His background in architecture insured that his designs where systematic and well constructed. Brockmann uses the Fibonacci grid and other grid systems in his designs with simple shapes and colour themes to create strong and easily readable posters and this is something I want to keep in mind when creating my design. Brockmann later authored the book ‘Grid Systems’ highlighting the importance of structure in design and is revered as a pioneer in International Typographic Style (also known as Swiss Style, that started in Russia, Germany and the Netherlands in the 1920’s).

The International Typographical Design was further developed by the Swiss in 1950’s and had a massive influence on graphic design and many other design related fields as a part of the modernist movement. The intention was to present a clear message that could be understood internationally. The style consisted of grid systems and asymmetric layouts, featuring typography as the main design element. Grid systems began in the 19th century, consisting of a series of intersecting vertical, horizontal and angular lines that are used to structure a design. They are more commonly used in print media and more recently by web developers and normally specify fixed-width elements and relative sizing percentages to ensure a fluid feel to the design. The most common typefaces to be used are san serifs such as Univers, which paved the way for Neue Haas Grotesk to be developed by Max Miedinger and Edouard Hoffman, later renamed to Helvetica.

Armin Hofmann

Armin Hofmann started his career as a typography teacher in the Allgemeine Gewerbeschule Basel School of Art and Crafts after completing a lithography apprenticeship. He heavily favoured Sans Serif typeface alongside the newly practiced techniques of photo type-setting and photo-montage. Hofmann played a critical role in developing Swiss Style, setting new standards and highlighted the importance of the basic elements of graphic language – point, line and plane. Hofmann effectively uses of colour in his posters and this is an example of what he called the “trivialization of colour.” Armin Hofmann died in 2020 at the  age of 100 years old.

Saul Bass 

Saul Bass is an Oscar-winning filmmaker and graphic designer recognised for his film posters and logo making. Most notably, Bass has worked with the likes of Alfred Hitchcock and Martin Scorsese to create title sequences for Psycho (1960), The Man with the Golden Arm (1954) and many more. His designs often consist of a stand alone image with simple, geometric shapes delivering a powerful message. Bass’s film posters, although only being a static image, seem to convey the mood of the film with just these images and simple shapes. Like many respected designers of that time, Bass was influenced by Bauhaus as well as Russian Constructivism. What I really like is Saul Bass’s use of planes in his work and strong iconography with simple colour schemes.

Bass is also known for his iconic logos for major businesses such as American Bell Telephone Company, AT&T, Continental Airline, Kleenex and Quaker Oats. 


Universal Declaration of Human Rights

The Universal Declaration of Human Rights is a document that outlines and ensures the rights of all human beings and is recognised as international law.

The Articles that stood out to me the most are:

Article 6: Everyone has the right to recognition everywhere as a person before the law.

Article 9: No one shall be subjected to arbitrary arrest, detention or exile.

Article 17:

  1. Everyone has the right to own property alone as well as in association with others.
  2. No one shall be arbitrarily deprived of his property.

My Sketches

Before moving to my computer I began sketching ideas for my poster design. I wanted to implement design elements that I had learned so far such as grid systems, gestalt principles, the golden ratio, planes and visual hierarchy.


Choosing a Typeface

Implementing Scale and Sizing with the Type Scale website which allowed me to input bases sizes and based on different scaling systems it allowed me to visualise what sizing ratios would work best together for each font that I would choose.

My Designs

When sketching this initial idea I had put circles directly in the middle of one another but then when I began digitally recreating them I decided to use the golden ratio values and created this graphic design. This features 17 circles as I was initially going to use it for Article 17. I done a version with a blue background to add more colour to the poster and so that the line through the circles would show as gap. The final version of the design includes the laurel leaves from the UDHR logo which I think is a nice touch.

This design was based on article 17 and was one of the last designs I had recreated digitally. All of my previous posters had a small colour palette so I tried to use a little bit more colour and chose more pastel colours. The graphical designs are 1’s and 7’s place to all be meeting to convey the ‘association with others’ as stated by article 17. I also chose 4 different sans-serif typefaces to add the sense of movement and different things going on within the poster. I chose Alata for the title piece as it was strong and had a bolder effect in comparison to the other fonts. It was for this same reason I chose to use Julius Sans One for the longest piece of writing as its stroke was very light and I done this so as that corner wouldn’t take your attention immediately away from the article and logo. During our class discussions my tutor mentioned moving the logo lower and once I revisited the poster and changed it I think it looked much better too.

This poster is actually for both article 6 and article 9. The idea was to use squares and rectangles for this one and I realised when creating the number 9 that you could could flip it to also read 6. Adding the UDHR logo didn’t work here because it wasn’t readable upside down.

My design for Article 17 I feel is the most visually strong. For each graphical element I used the number forms and kept the colour scheme simple with a change in opacity to a few of them. This design uses visual hierarchy and symmetry and I feel that’s what makes it best. I chose just highlight important words from the sentences by changing their colour so its more easily read like the first one reading ‘no one deprived.’


This poster was another example of the golden ratio being used. I used the main element which is comprised of 17 and rotated it around a spiral while changing the size of each to get smaller. I wanted to make a really colourful poster just to try something different but although I feel like somewhere in this is a good design it wasn’t executed well and for that reason I think this is the weakest design.


Its hard to pick which one I like the most as my Final piece but the one I think looks the most polished as a strong poster that would catch my eye would probably be this piece.



Saul Bass

Published in IXD101


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