The article employs Walter Ballmer's experience as a Swiss graphic designer working in Milan in the second half of the twentieth century as a case study to think about national design discourses outside national borders, show their constructed nature, and explore their impact on individual lives and careers. Drawing on primary sources collected in the archive and through interviews, it maps out the socio-cultural network that gave meaning to Swiss graphic design and questions how this was perceived, understood, and performed in a specific time and place by Ballmer, his assistants, the broader graphic design community, and his clients.

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