Hans Tomamichel and Institut Montana

The story behind our logo

12 February 2021

February 12th is a birthday of a well-known Swiss graphic designer and painter Hans Tomamichel.

He was the one, who created the image, that symbolizes Institut Montana, our logo, in 1947.

The design represents the connected world. It shows a young plant, supported by a stake that will ensure that it grows healthily towards the sun, like the young person guided by education towards mutual understanding between people from all parts of the globe. We see an olive branch, a symbol of peace. It represents the most important idea of Max Husmann, the founder of Institut Montana. He was driven by the vision of providing education for peace. He believed that you could help young people grow into tolerant, compassionate adults who would lead their countries away from conflict rather than into it.

Hans Tomamichel was born in a small village Bosco Gurin in 1899. He found his passion in drawing at the age of four and has never stopped it ever since. In 1914 he moved to Zürich to learn his craft as an apprentice. In 1925 he went to Paris to study painting at the Académie des Beaux-Arts and enjoyed the Parisian life to the fullest.

Hans Tomamichel returned to Zürich in 1928 and built up a portfolio of work for various clients, both big business and smaller local enterprises, and was a co-founder of the Swiss graphic arts association (Schweizer Grafiker Verband). In 1932 he invented the legendary logo of Nestlé’s Fip-Fop children’s club.

In 1947 he was asked by Knorr to define their brand and the work went down almost as a part of Swiss cultural heritage. According to the artist himself, he modelled Knorrli, who became the face of the Swiss food company, on a friendly mountain gnome from his village in the Maggia valley: “I gave him a round head – just like a soup plate.” The designer’s clients loved his first drafts and would use his work for many of their product ranges over the years to come.

After 1953 he set to work on Aromat seasoning, a product that carved a lasting place for itself in homes and restaurants throughout Switzerland, and in the memories of generations of students at Institut Montana. As well as Knorr, Tomamichel had many other prestigious clients, including Kanton Zürich, the Schweizerische Eidgenossenschaft and Caritas Zurich.

When Institut Montana briefed him to create an enduring emblem to shine like a beacon on the school’s post war recovery, they were aiming high.

And they got what they needed. The logo is a powerful visual expression of a mission and it has beauty. As all good emblems, it is all the more memorable for the simplicity with which it conveys an important message. It defined the school then, as it still does today.


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