Autumn 1996

This signifier is loaded

Zurich designer Cornel Windlin is a fluent graphic stylist and a playful manipulator of communication codes

Signifiers don’t come much more heavily loaded than Cornel Windlin’s posters for the Rote Fabrik, a performance space located a couple of kilometres south of Zurich’s city centre. Windlin’s first public communiqué, based on a firing-range target, rounded up concert-goers with a pistol- brandishing silhouette. If this suggested the arrival of a designer who, conceptually at least, should be regarded as armed and dangerous, it paled beside a later creation, in which Zurich’s good townsfolk were treated to a scarily alluring Uzi, presented against a brilliant yellow background.

It is easy to see how such hair-raising visual tactics might have some as a jolt to the peace-loving collective that operates the lakeside centre, set up fifteen years ago to mollify Zurich’s young people in the wake of city riots …

First published in Eye no. 22 vol. 6, 1996