Sound Development City
Astrom / Zimmer – Sound Development City

BÄM! The new online presence of Sound Development City is online! Gone are the days of multiple subdomains and confusing back-and-forth linkage; is now the home for everything SDC.

The growing Katalog
Astrom / Zimmer – Sitterwerk Katalog

The Sitterwerk Katalog is growing, and the functionalities of the new table is being evaluated by various groups and individuals: publishers are creating inventories; architects are creating catalogues; foundry creatives are creating new workflows. This is super.


This week, artist archiving/organisation platform kleio is getting a reboot. With a worked-over visual profile, and a bunch of new and refined features, kleio is maturing into a very powerful tool for both big and small collections. For us, the whole project and our involvement gets bumped up a few levels by the fact that it's both initiated and run by artists, looking for solutions to own problems. There's a lot of heart in kleio.


Arthouse cinema Xenix asked us to design a poster for their month-long Mumblecore programme. I think we fell a bit in love.


Just putting the finishing touches to Travellog – a Seminar Trip documentation platform designed and developed for the architecture chair of Philip Ursprung, ETH, Zürich. The interface itself is great, but what's even more interesting is how it all connects up behind the scenes, and how that might grow way bigger than one chair. Right now eveverything is kept internal, but we hope to show you more in the near future.

A Table is Born
Astrom Zimmer Sitterwerk

We're super happy to welcome the latest addition to the Sitterwerk Katalog family into the world! A new, preciser table, with a brand new interface to boot. The whole thing is from now on available for anyone interested, at the library in Sitterwerk. Much more to follow.

Kein & Aber β
Astrom Zimmer Kein&Aber

In a redefinition of the classical role of a publishing house, Kein & Aber (Zürich, CH) launches a functional beta of their brand new online store, for both print and digital products. Our idea was to rethink the physical bookshelf as a navigational instrument. This early version, programmed by dreipol, is just the start; the functionalities of the digital shelf will keep growing over the coming two years.

Tourenatlas + RhB
Astrom Zimmer Tourenatlas

Good news! Swiss train company Räthische Bahn started featuring maps and directions for tours from the Tourenatlas with connection to their network.

SDC 2014
Astrom / Zimmer - Sound Development City 2014 | SDC2014

The third annual artist expedition Sound Development City marks the second year of our involvement. This time the online 'Log Book' has been overhauled and condensed; a third reading layer has been added in the form of the continuous observations of collaborating author/playwright Uwe Lützen, and everything has been compressed into three columns on one single view.
To check it out and follow this year's participants as they travel from Riga to Helsinki, follow this link!

MARS, Quicker, Stronger
Astrom / Zimmer – Activity Process 2.0

Something completely different: We just finished concepting/designing an internal productivity tool for the MARS Group. The tool – called 'Activity Process Management' – will be developed in-house.


We're proud to announce that the November issue of renown Swiss Architecture and Design magazine Hochparterre includes an extensive A/Z feature by Urs Honegger. The magazine decided to dedicate the cover and 3 spreads to an in-depth interview, and a dissection of our Gradient Tagging concept, focusing on the Lines version. Thanks muchly!

Tourenatlas goes mobile
Tourenatlas iPhone - Astrom / Zimmer

Some time into the process of developing the mammoth package that is the Tourenatlas, we realised that a digital filter to the 1000+ routes would be a brilliant addition to the paper. So we sat down and sketched a mobile interface for Helvetic Backcountry's data, and over the late-summer months we developed an app for iOS and Android.

Book launch:

It's been quite a ride, but we made it! The Tourenatlas is here, and it's a delight to handle. Together with Helvetic Backcountry we've created a package consisting of 30 areas with some 400 peaks and over 1000 routes in a 384-page book, complemented by 30 detailed tour maps.

Anyone spending time in the Bay Area between Oct 24-26, should visit the Books in Browsers conference at the Internet Archive. We'll be speaking Friday morning, and both days are littered with interesting people.
Sound Development City 2013

How to document a 3-week trip through Europe with 13 artists + 1 minibus, running 9 projects + 1 radio station, using 9 different online services, and telling everything in 2 different voices? When asked by Heller Ent./Sound Development to develop an online documentation platform for the upcoming Sound Development City 2013, this is the question we asked ourselves.

the City of Others
Astrom / Zimmer – Stadt der Anderen - Theater Schlachthaus
Under the umbrella of Wem Gehört die Stadt, Martin Bieri invites 8 guests on 8 evenings, to show their perspective of the city of Bern, in the on-stage dialogue Die Stadt der Anderen.
A couple of months ago, Martin asked us to figure out a way to visualise these stories, live and on-stage. The result – a mariage of casual coffeeshop talks and a game of Play the Satellite – can be seen every evening between the 6th-9th and 13th-16th of June, 6pm in Theater Schlachthaus, Bern.
Video Noir
Astrom / Zimmer – Video Noir
Through projects like Berlin Transit and Sasso San Gottardo, artists/filmmakers Video Noir has made a name for themselves in the area of larger-than-life video installations. On their newly revised website, we wanted to give the documentation a chance to convey at least part of the works' spatial presence; an interface based on snappy scrolling and full-screen media. Co-founder and multi-talent Fabian Wegmüller dove in and took care of development himself, and the result is now online here.
Book launch:
Future Archives
Archive der Zukunft
A latest step in our collaboration with Sitterwerk, is the publication 'Archive der Zukunft'. The book, designed by István Scheibler, collects material – inspiration, transcripts, essays – related to the 2011 symposium with the same name. The book release/presentation will take place in the Sitterwerk Art Library on Wednesday 24th of April, at 7:30pm. More info here.
A/Z + TC
Astrom Zimmer Triple Canopy
We spent the month of February in Brooklyn, NY, working with artist magazine Triple Canopy as they develop a new publishing platform to launch in September. Together we ask how publishing platforms and applications might not only illuminate but also amplify the fundamental relationships between people, places, objects, and social processes that constitute Triple Canopy's expanded field of publication. The February residency culminated in a 2-hour presentation/discussion around these questions, serving as a launch of a collaboration which which will continue far beyond the September platform launch.
Book launch:
Mercuriously Zürich
Astrom Zimmer Züricher Merkuriositäten
The image of Mercurius appears over and over again in the history of Zürich – in an architectural, commercial and iconographical context – and the book 'Zürcher Mercuriositäten', published by orell füssli, tells this story. Based on the mercurial treasure trove of collector Karl Bernhard and enriched through texts/essays by various authorities on the subject, this book tells the story of a city from the perspective of a Roman god. With a combination of longer texts, archive material and categorial, linear and topographical indexes, we guide the reader through both time and space. In collaboration with Cornelia Diethelm.
Mobile indoor navigation
Astrom Zimmer DYGOS
Google has outdoor navigation pegged, and others keep trying, more or less successfully. But what about finding your way indoors? The HSLU research project DYGOS (German) focuses on mobile navigation in Swiss train stations, and invited us to come up with a couple of strategies / interface concepts.
This year's June issue of the Fabrikszeitung (currently on display in MoMA, by the way – congratulations!) contains an essay we wrote on the impact of data on archives. Read the text here, or get the full FaZ issue as PDF.
Edition Wälchli
The literary work of writer/composer Alfred Wälchli (1922-2003) is an oeuvre barely known to the general public, but teeming with composing strategies that could be of great interest for authors and philologists. This research project, running under the Interpretation umbrella at HKB, aims to translate Wälchli's methods into an interactive set of 'game rules' ('Spielregeln'), to closer investigate the effects of iteration, word substitution, melodic writing etc. At the end of the project we will also have clarified the demands of a critical edition of his work, which will be applied in a larger, national project.
What is Query By Example Image Search? How would such an interface look? And what would be the benefits of being able to find images using images, instead of words? These are some of the questions we (at least try to) answer through our involvement in the MUSIC research project. MUSIC is a collaboration with HES-SO, UniGE and HSLU, where the QBE Image Search interface was our part, developed together with Floid. We'll post links as soon as we get clearance.
Go Where Your Heart Is / Theory Thuesday
This winter we got invited by Philip Matesic (Theory Thuesday) and Roland Früh (Swiss Federal Design Award Excursions) to present our Café Society work.
We carry with us two very engaged and inspiring discussions. Thanks to all who joined.
Lines - Best of Swiss Web
Super happy to announce that Lines, a modest 2-man show, managed to compete with the big guys!
Swiss Backcountry
Together with Helvetic Backcountry, we follow up their 2009 snowboard tour book with a completely new approach to winter sport guides. Backed up by the incredible amount of data these guys collected over the last years on their endless treks over the alps, we've developed an intricate visual system that allows us to highlight dangers and affordances along a multitude of tours. This is growing into a true Hercules' project, but the idea of having a revolutionary tool like this in our hands in 2013, is amazingly energising.
(P: Nicolas Fojtu)
Lanier: You are Not
a Gadget
Jaron Lanier's You are Not a Gadget: A Manifesto is bubbling with personal conviction and passion, which makes it a very engaging read. Putting a finger on our moral responsibility, and calling to light the grave (but often suppressed) issues with crowd-based authorship; not only technical efficiency and objective consensus should shape our New Media, but also highly reflected subjective ideas, well aware of the impact they cause. A super read not only for nerds, but for everyone who cares about were we're heading.

Perspectives (previously 'collecthing') originates from some sketches back in 2007, and developed from the same ideas about collecting web fragments as Trails. However, it took on a completely different shape: Where Trails allows you subjectively de-fragment your online research locally and physically, Perspectives lets you gather everything online, order and categorise in a completely free, visual layout based on coordinates, and collaborate with others on dynamic information maps. Over the last 5 years the project has lingered in the back of our minds, with at least 2 bigger attempts to bring it into a public domain. Finally, thanks to a 4-day programming spurt in October 2011, it seems we finally arrived at a working solution. More to follow in the next months...

In early November, the library in Sitterwerk, St.Gallen, received a few scores of people, all with one thing in common: an interest in a fusion between libraries and alternative ordering structures. For this Sitterwerk Symposium—the first in a series—we and the Sitterwerk crew invited speakers under the categories 1) Ordering Science, 2) Art and 3) New Structures of Knowledge. More info here.
Leading up to the symposium, we arranged (together with Fabian Wegmüller) a workshop in a related flavour; a dussin artists, designers, theorists and strategists spent 2+ days in the library, thinking up and discussing scenarios for generating implicit knowledge through subjective indexing. Big topic, but we did our best to conclude most of it here.
Super experience for everyone involved, and it's clear for all of us that this will be a recurring event.
Le Dossier Diemtigtal
A cold day in February 2009, a couple of skiers were making their way down the slopes of Diemtigtal, Berner Oberland. Approaching one of the many small huts situated on the hillside, the scenery suddenly changed from idyllic to horrible: Resting against the wall of the building was a dead black man.
That’s the starting point for ‘Le Dossier Diemtigtal’, a collaboration between Astrom / Zimmer and renowned authors/playwrights Antoine Jaccoud and Beat Sterchi. The story of the unknown man found frozen to death in the Bernese mountains is the seed for an online narrative(s), bridging genres, disciplines, and geographic and cultural areas.
We'd love to give you some proper insight into what we've been doing so far, but until the documentation site is up and running you'll simply have to trust us: This tale, supported by Migros Culture Percentage and the Oertli Foundation, will be told like none before.
Yeboaa Ofosu (Bern University of the Arts) contacted us recently regarding an interface for a teaching module she calls 'Forschungswort' ('Research Word'). The module is short and direct, and centered around definitions of a design research vocabulary, created through student-teacher interaction. We immediately saw a great opportunity to expand on an idea we've had for a while, utilising Dropbox for near-real-time content publishing. is a customised, first attempt, but we hope to be able to make the source available on soon.
Giesecke, seeing through books
In his book 'Von den Mythen der Buchkultur zu den Visionen der Informationsgesellschaft', Michael Giesecke discusses how over several hundred years, the Book Culture governed almost the entire translation of our world into science, philosophy, history, and in extension our understanding of the world. The argument is that the processing of experiences into causal/linear threads of text has locked us in a very specific perception of the things around us. With the advent of electronic media like the internet, we start to discover which senses became stunted on the way. Important thoughts that back up many of our Café Society's presentations.
When professor Edy Portmann came to us for an identity/website for the new media initiative Mediamatics, he had three requests: Helvetica, small caps and the colour green. Based on a very small budget we came up with a simple and direct solution, online today thanks to the code of Nicolas Spycher.
In the process we discovered a lot of overlap in thoughts and approaches. Specialising in Fuzzy Technology, Edy is hard at work investigating the innards of human/computer interaction, and where we can find connection points not only on the conditions of the machine. This collaboration definitely isn't finished.
Access to Pages
Although most of our work revolves around moving from Print to screen, and the effects of this transition, we find is equally important to walk the other way. Looking around, most attempts to fuse print and screen are mere replicas of paper in digital form; moving photographs and talking text. With Access to Pages (Atop), however, we apply digital strategies to paper, highlighting qualities of both mediums. The indexes take on a super important role; maps creating open, flippable landscapes to be explored through haptic links. Ideal for project documentation, the flexible Atop format is atlas, encyclopaedia and world in one.
Café des Rêves
The Café des Rêves exhibition in Helmhaus, Zürich, isn't just an ordinary exhibition (if there is such a thing). The works are a completely personal collection of Swiss video art from the last 10 years, based on the emotional preference of curators Aufdi Aufdermauer and Simon Maurer. The idea, as well as the title has a few different roots (from Buena Vista Social Club to [...] to a Tunisian café), and the whole project is rather undefined, in the most positive sense. Our challenge, in designing the poster, flyers, handout and website for the exhibition, was to find a way to solidify that undefinable idea. The result can be viewed all over town right now, and in Helmhaus between April 29rd – June 19th.
Communicating an Idea
How do you communicate an interactive web app, which isn't a service or a tool or an art piece, but an interactive Idea? We don't know, but it's fun to try! Right now our very-non-hyper-link is going through the presses, and it looks really pretty.
SchplitZing Support
Our SchplitZing, realised together with Fabian Wegmüller, just got supported by BAK through their Sitemapping project, Kanton Zürich via Fachstelle Kultur, and Aargauer Kuratorium. Now entering phase 2.
HvD Fonts

Berlin-based font designer Hannes von Döhren shook the world of type in early 2010, when Brandon Grotesque hit the charts, and bumped MyFonts' Helvetica sales to a 2nd for several months. Our collaboration in the design and development of the HvD Fonts website focuses on Hannes' spec sheets. By expanding the page area to fit all the sheets for all fonts, laid out in a grid, the navigation takes on a panning nature, giving the visitor a feeling of moving through an endless field of type and lettering. Making portfolio sites is often very demanding, but once in a while they are just great fun. was one of those.

Together with photographer Balz Murer, we designed a modular portfolio system for Austrian construction/engineering giant Strabag. The portfolio is easily adjustable for different clients, and its use is equally practical on a construction site as in a shielded office.
Flussers crisis of linearity

Czech-born journalist/philosopher Vilém Flusser wrote brilliant stuff. Alongside McLuhan, Baudrillard et al, he was one of the last century's most insightful critics of media's influence on culture. With entertaining wit and elaborate (sometimes to the point of confusion) in his Does Writing Have a Future? and Into the Universe of Technical Images, he paints his vision for the evolution of human communication, knowledge creation, and thinking. This in our opinion brilliant lateral thinker is a definite must-read for anyone interested in the ways and workings of communal knowledge. We can hardly imagine our work without his influence.

In early 2008 we developed an idea for how health communication could work differently. The idea included a modular poster publishing system, allowing direct, up-to-date customer-related information in pharmacy shopping windows. A place that today is mostly occupied by advertising for pharmaceutical products.
Together with pharma educators medinform, we shaped a streamlined workflow for their communication strategies involving these modular posters, and established a counter-view to the current pharmacy information politics. The initiative shifted the roles of joining pharmacies to one of an information provider rather than drug seller. Currently over 40 pharmacies all over Switzerland are using the modules and their accompanying digital distribution system, and the number is growing.
The Woods
Finaly! Its online! Our new atelier Website.

Texplora, a HKB research project, is an investigation into possible formats for online travel literature. With the help of intelligent databases and visualisation strategies, a core team of 5 people from the areas of literature, technical engineering and graphic design, developed several strategies for how travel literature can be accessed in new ways. The results range from experimental, hardly realisable ideas to working prototypes running on mobile platforms (iOS). The iPad version is being tested and used for educational purposes at the Swiss Literature Institute in Bern/Biel.
Anything Swiss video/film art lands on the desks of Videocompany sooner or later. As an addition to their company website, they asked us to build a doorway to their extensive collection online. The task consisted of creating an easy-to-use index, and still preserve the air of intricate artistic and conceptual correlations. And of course it should look great. Our solution is now online.
300 Years of Climate Change

What can designers contribute to such a big problem..? Perhaps the most obvious way is by providing new access to facts. 300 Years of Climate Change (2007) is a self-published edition of a extensive textual study on the topic, translated into an infographical layout that allows for experiencing the growing public discourse over the last three centuries. A text from Spencer Weart split up in four categories: Society, Politics, Media and Disasters. The publication shows the growing correlation of these aspects and their sometimes unlucky influence on each other.

ZAD Symposium
Julie Harboe (head of Art Research at the Luzern University of Applied Sciences and Arts) asked us for a contribution to their ZAD project: the use and relevance of digital pens in creative practice. After having looked into the current use cases, we started questioning pens in these scenarios at all. Our take was to develop a scenario where the relevance of the actual handwriting is unquestionable. We drew up a workflow where annotation, freeform hand drawn graphics and the use of emotional tagging played a central role, and the users' interaction with pre-printed texts provided the data necessary to create a digital reference landscape.
UPDATE: The concept (written for print in the Organ journal) can be found online here.
Daniel Schmid
As a part of sculpting a cinematic portrait of Swiss filmmaker Daniel Schmid, directors Benny Jaberg and Pascal Hoffman asked us to design print and web identity for the film.
Following on the CI for light designers Schwarzbunt GmbH, we sunk our teeth into creating their website. This proved to be the ideal playing field for exploring the aspects of light inherent in the screen itself. The solution proved itself to be very simple: one measure dynamic image generation and a pinch of old-school 90's JavaScript animation set the stage:

Assigning different functions to different spaces is a fundamental task that Architects  and Graphic Designers have in common. 

Reflections around this common task shaped the identity for the young upcoming ZimmerSchmidt Architekten.

HSLU Kulturmanagement
For Luzern University of App. Sciences and Arts, we developed an exhibition concept and book design for their first batch of Cultural Management graduates, in collaboration with Miriam Sturzenegger. As foundation lies an investigation of the collected prejudices about this practice, confirmed or voided with the help of pieces and fragments from the studies.
Trails - Swiss Federal Design Award
The first project that we launch as The Café Society just won the Swiss Federal Design Award! And will be showcased from November 7th, 2008 till February 1st, 2009 at Bellerive Museum in Zürich.
A first public beta version will be available online by that time.

...or how to navigate a single timeline from multiple perspectives? premiered March 31, 2016 at Cabaret Voltaire, Zurich. What started as a fairly standard online documentation request for an educational/research project by the Zürich University of the Arts, quickly took on a life of its own. Now, is the home of a brilliant video work of art, and a case study in multi-dimensional timeline narrative.

...or how to let visitors feed back to a library?
The Werkbank – the new table in the Sitterwerk Art Library – is expanding on the ideas of the current system of a true free-hand library: The shelf-scanning robot allows you to reorganise the books without losing their positions; the original table lets you pin down a collection of books and materials as a collection, and save it as a reading list for others to find. With the Werkbank we're introducing a complete research workflow, adding possibilities for two-dimensional digital maps, adding notes and scanned images to objects, a drag-and-drop print module, and a growing network based on intersections between books, materials, people and their collections.

Watch video


The technology of the original table consisted of one big RFID antenna, and a web interface presenting what's on it in list form. In its own right, this this was a bit of a revolution when it was first put in use back in [...]. This direct link between the physical world of books and materials, and the digital interface, presented a whole new way of storing and navigating research. But this translation from matter to 1s and 0s is an extreme simplification, and we were looking for something more. Our thesis is that not only does your selection matters, but also the way you place your objects on the table, the way you read them, and the conclusions you make.

Instead of just one, the new table sports a grid of 12 antennas. It also has two cameras attached: one for scanning the tabletop and through custom image recognition software determine the exact position and rotation of books; one for making high-resolution scans of pages, notes or objects not yet in the Sitterwerk catalogue. Just like before, the new server and its interface provides a real-time digital rendering of the table and its contents, but in two dimensions instead of one. It also lets you attach scans, photos and texts to individual objects, and to the virtual table itself. Once you save your collection, it merges with a growing network of other collections, books, materials, thoughts and people. From here you can choose to go surfing the waves of the library and the collections of others, and at any point return to your own, and continue your research. When you feel your work is ripe for publishing, the 'Zine' module gives you a direct way for restructuring all your objects and notes into a book form, complete with references. A specially installed printer, with carefully selected paper for cover and content, streamlines the transfer from the digital back into physical form. Your publication can then be tagged, catalogued, and reinserted into the library. And so the circle is closed.

But the potential doesn't end here. As soon as your reserach material passes from the physical into bits, they become infinitely malleable. On the screen, the digital representation of books, material and other objects can be scaled and moved into new constellations. We've also added the ability to change the background of your virtual table. At the moment of writing, you can choose between a set of predefined graphical shapes. But in the very near future you'll be able to upload your own images – perhaps even draw your own directly on the screen – enabling the creation of fantastical maps, catered to any imaginable subject or theme. Introducing this new system marks a beginning of a process, not an end. This is a lab, a playground, and a catalyst for discourse. We invite everyone to join, and look forward to see this baby grow.

...or how can we visualise an artistic journey? And how can we utilise already existing online services to do so?
When asked by Heller Ent./Sound Development to develop an online documentation platform for the upcoming Sound Development City 2013, these were the question we asked ourselves. The result can be found here. The site utilises streams from the various communication services (Facebook, Twitter, SoundCloud, Vimeo, etc.) already used by the artists, and adds a 2nd layer of focused, carefully curated narration on top.

...or can we write like we read?
Lines – the A/Z LAB project of 2011 – solidifies an abstract idea in the shape of a functional piece of software, serving as the foundation for further discussion and development. It is a reaction on the forms and frames in which we usually write. The vertical hierarchy of the page, the blog, the list or the forum, is flipped over. It is a playing field, allowing one or more authors to create a weave of texts and images. By the principle of annotation, each entry is a reaction on another, which is the reaction on yet another, and so on.

Project Link


...this is the appropriate moment to cultivate a variety of approaches to the page that have not been able to flourish under the monopoly of Scholastic reading.” (Illych)

Educated as artists and graphic designers, trained primarily in the logics of print and haptic output, we have grown a great interest in how a transition to screen publishing, and the formats of the new media, affect the way we write, read and communicate. What are the new contracts between author and reader? How are they shaped by old and new forms, and how do new habits in writing and reading affect the way we build and share knowledge?

Format and Culture:
So far, even in an online world, the main application of authorship is linear writing--the bringing of information into a sequence--a line following the logic of written language. The result is following the structure of a timeline. These texts normally translate the process of thought and of reasoning into a sequence of cause and effect; there is a development in linear story, that we as readers can easily follow. In a time where books and documents were the main carriers of text, the environments for writing and reading looked very similar. The guiding voice of the author, his narrative, was made obvious to the reader in his linear path.

Now, as reading happens more and more on screen, the fragmented reading is greatly accelerated. This is a process we know from moving between passages in books and documents, but on screen these movements are not only possible, but rather encouraged, mainly though the use of hyperlinks, placed there to grab our attention. Further, digital media gives us a lot of freedom to move between texts; search functions and filters help us to find exactly the piece of information we are looking for. In effect, each step on the path is provided by algorithms and keywords, and our guide on the way is our own goal.

As we skip and jump from one fragment to the next, the authors’ thoughts get ripped out of context. We target and devour fragments with minimal background information. This new reading doesn’t build on logical, causal strings of thoughts. A web is shaped; an assemblage of information lacking a clear sense or meaning, as we can only focus on one fragment at a time. These individual fragments, or steps, don’t have relation to each other, since they are not aware of where the reader comes from, or where he will go next.

The Role of the Graphic Designer:
With Lines, our take on this problem is to bring authorship closer to reading. While reading habits are rapidly developing, the creation of texts hasn’t changed much since the typewriter, and there is a lot left to be explored in this area.

...If it was a myth to see the author as the originator, it is now a myth that cannot
any longer be sustained in this new environment. Writing is becoming ‘assembling according to designs’.
” (Kress)

We are convinced that in order to bring sense and meaning to a fragmented screen-reading, the visual representation--not only of information, but of the relation between different pieces of information--has to take a stance. As graphic designers, we will have to take on the role of the guide, cultivating new forms and structures, fit for a new medium and new habits. The evolution of information sharing is strongly driven by technology; old standards fuelled with new kinds of speed and efficiency. Perhaps it’s time for a new strategy. Perhaps it’s time for the graphic designer to cultivate new forms and patterns for communication, and possibly new ways of thinking.

...or how to make associative thinking interactive?
SchplitZing is an attempt to materialise the immaterial structure of thoughts. With the use simultaneity and cross-linking, we bring forth aspects of mental reasoning that have long been suppressed in the digital world. Content is told rather than presented, in the context of other content – thoughts, images, found or invented material.
In its latest version, SchplitZing writes a new chapter in the book of artistic representation; the new CMS boasts a powerful Network feature, enabling authors to related their material to that of other authors, and create walkable bridges between creative minds.


SchplitZing evolved by thinking about a portfolio homepage for an artist and curator. Artistic thoughts and ideas can be very difficult to communicate, and even more so when it's happening via a webpage. The experience on the screen is far away from seeing the actual work. Add to this the fact that you might be working in several fields, which might seem unrelated, but for you are very closely linked. The difficulties of showing work on a screen doesn’t help in making these connections clearer to your audience. Our answer to this is to focus less on the individual work more on its context.
The first prototype of SchplitZing was used in many several ways: as a portfolio or a gallery homepage; at the swiss literature institute someone used it as a storytelling tool; there have been very systematic and very wild experiments. As we were working on the prototype we stumbled upon Vannevar Bush's article 'As we may think', published in the Atlantic Monthly in July 1945. In this article - which is one of those texts that somehow anticipated the Internet – he proposed a machine to organise your personal knowledge by associative trails. He ment that a structure based on associations would get much closer to the mnemonic workings of our brains. Proudly we recognise that his memex looks quite similar to SchplitZing.

After a extensive tests and discussions around the functionality, potential and possible implications of the SchplitZing concept, we asked three of our collaborators to write a few sentences. We asked them to summarise their impression of the direct interaction with the system, both as authors and as readers, and to reflect on this way of working in a more general way:

Catherine Schelbert, Übersetzerin, 30 August 2010
Thoughts/imagery – simultaneous or linear? Crisscrossing but still linear? Superimposed but still linear? SchplitZing does something recommended by Ivan Illich (In the Vineyard of the Text) back in 1993:

...this is the appropriate moment to cultivate a variety of approaches to the page that have not been able to flourish under the monopoly of Scholastic reading.

SchplitZing attempts to break down entrenched linear thinking that prevails no matter what we do, even on the Internet, even when we use hypertext, even when we are confronted with, say, an surmountable number of video hours of everyday life bombarding us from numerous monitors in Fischli/Weiss’s Arbeiten im Dunkeln (1995).
SchplitZing is the first working experiment I’ve ever seen in which a simultaneity is generated that could lead to genuinely unprecedented connections, combinations, crisscrossing and superimposition of ideas/ pictures.

Julie Harboe, Kunsthistorikerin & Kunstkritikerin, Leiterin FED Institut Kunst HSLU, 30. August 2010
In Zeiten der Informationstsunami gilt es für die Vermittlung und Interpretation von Haltungen und Daten (wie es zB die Geistes- wissenschaften an sich oder als «Hillfsinstrument» produziert) die Bedeutung der Information, sowie das Zusammenspiel der Quellen, so transparent und dynamisch wie möglich darzustellen. Das akademische Narrativ ist weitgehend als fortlaufender Argumentationsfaden (justierbar mit Fussnoten und Bibliographie) etabliert. Aber, ohne übermässig kritisch zu sein, ist es auch ersichtlich, dass diese Form im Kontext neuer Diskursräume oft eher Rückwirkend agiert. SchplitZing ist ein Tool das für die Verfasserin sowie das Publikum neue Möglichkeiten der Bearbeitung eröffnet. Es ist vor allem mehr als ein CMS. Das Layout bietet einerseits für die Bilder eine gleichwertige - vielleicht sogar höhere - Stellung als der geschriebene Text und andererseits wird der Prozess des «Webens» der Informationen mit Auswählen und Up-Loaden neu über das Material reflektiert. So wie collecthing [ed: Maps] und trails bietet SchplitZing eine weitere Möglichkeit über Informationsbearbeitung und das dringend notwendige eigenständige Positionieren einer Meinung nachzudenken.

Nadine Wietlisbach, Künstlerin und Kuratorin, 29. August 2010
«SchplitZing» funktioniert für mich zum Einen als Arbeitsinstrument und zum Anderen als Präsentationsplattform für meine Arbeit. In meiner künstlerisch-kuratorischen Praxis setze ich mich mit Raum, Atmosphäre und Szene auseinander. Das Spartenübergreifende interessiert mich nicht nur als Endprodukt, es bedeutet im Alltag eine Verknüpfung zwischen vielen unterschiedlichen Themen- und Aufgabenfeldern. Die Möglichkeit, mich auf SchplitZing in vier Feldern zu verorten hat sich, anfänglich als schwierig bis unmöglich, mit der Zeit als essentiell für meine Arbeits- und Denkweise entpuppt.
Im Moment ist meine Page auf sehr simple Weise organisiert, dies hat mit der Lesbarkeit für das «Publikum» von aussen zu tun, es soll ein Eindruck entstehen, was ich mache und worum sich meine Arbeit dreht. Auch wenn die momentane Baustruktur nicht der Komplexität der Website zu entsprechen scheint ist sie doch funktional für meine Zwecke. Wenn ich neue Inhalte einfülle sieht alles anders aus, SchplitZing hilft mir auch, mehrschichtige Projekt-Gebilde vereinfacht darzustellen.
Für sic! Raum für Kunst, einen OFF-Raum für zeitgenössische Kunst in Luzern den ich seit 3 Jahren kuratiere und leite, wird SchplitZing neu ab Dezember 2010 verwendet. Für diesen Ort benötigen wir ein Tool, welches es zulässt schnell, auf Neuigkeiten zu reagieren und mit Text und Bildern arbeiten zu können. Die genaue Verknüpfung der vier Felder soll dabei immer wieder aufs Neue getestet werden, je nach Ausstellung werden alle vier Felder miteinander verknüpft um etwaige Verbindungen aufzuzeigen.

...or how can we make alpine tour planning more accessible? And how can a book be augmented by other media?
To­gether with Hel­vetic Back­coun­try, we fol­low up their 2009 snow­board tour book with a com­pletely new ap­proach to winter sport guides. Backed up by the in­cred­ible amount of data they col­lec­ted over the last years on their end­less treks over the alps, we've de­veloped an in­tric­ate visual sys­tem that al­lows us to high­light dangers and af­ford­ances along a mul­ti­tude of tours and designed the whole package. Additionally to the Book-Map Package, we developed an App that allows you to filter the Tours that fit to your skills and the current danger of avalanches.


The interest in mountain sports is bigger than ever before. More and more people take to alpine touring, and the amount of guides and maps sold is steadily rising. With this positive curve, innovation in the areas of environmental, technical and safety education, and good planning, is paramount. Still, as far as tour guides and maps concern, incredibly little has changed over the last several decades:

– Lack of overview: Many guides (e.g. SAC) provide very detailed information (ascent, exposure, etc.), but it's presented either as tables or in running paragraphs. To contextualise all that data, you have to get the corresponding map, and do a lot of measuring and calculating, which makes the whole process very complex and time intensive.
– Cost: Before the Tourenatlas, maps and guides were always sold as separate products. Every time you want to explore a new area, you have to go and buy the corresponding map, and this quickly adds up.
– Connectivity: Alpine literature generally comes in two flavours – the glossy panoramic photo book, or the dry, technical tour guide. The first waters your mouth, and the second gives you the raw data. If you'd like to have some subjective anecdotes to go with your tour, you'll have to start reading blogs.

Connecting very closely with the authors – professional tour guides with a keen visual eye – we created a core working group of four people, ranging from highly professional to complete newbie, but all with a 200% drive and willingness to put in all the extra hours needed to arrive at what we consider our solution to the above:

The Ski & Snowboard Tourenatlas Schweiz is a mammoth and an elite gymnast. A package consisting of a book, 30 maps and a mobile app, all of which, in their own way, redefine old patterns: A new map design enables compactness and cost efficiency while adding more detail; A (free) app acting as a portable filter for the 1200+ routes; A book combining beautiful imagery and personal anecdotes with professional tour data. At the heart of everything lies a new kind of peak visualisation, showing you the ascension, steepness, exposure, time estimate and stops for all routes on a single peak.

The Ski & Snowboard Tourenatlas Schweiz is a Book-Maps-App package for alpine touring. With 30 areas, 400 peaks and 1200 routes, it covers a significant part of the Swiss alps, and presents it all from three different perspectives, for different situations:

The App, available for iOS and Android, acts as a portable filter. On the go, it makes it easy to spontaneously make a first selection for your weekend tour; enter a desired time and difficulty for your climb and descent, and the Tourenatlas app will give you a list of suitable areas and peaks to visit, listed by their distance from your current location. Selecting an area gives you a preview, with an overview map, a short description to each filtered peak, and a selection of photos to give you a first impression.

Once you arrive at home, the Book contains detailed descriptions for each area, complete with winter photography, infrastructure and logistics information, hand-painted overview maps and personal anecdotes from the authors. To that, route data for each peak within an area is listed using a clear and accessible form of diagram. Gone are the days of getting lost in complex tabular data, invisible hight curves and measuring instruments; among other things, these diagrams show you, at a glance, the entry, exit and peak elevations, the estimated climb time, the steepness of both climb and descent and route exposure. In your living room or on your kitchen table, this book provides all you need for proper tour planning, along with interesting impressions about the available areas.

The Maps provides a detailed view when out in the snow. Delivered together with the book, the 30 maps comes with a foldable box for easy access when resting in your book shelf. The paper is especially developed for durability and water resistance. The imagery is industry standard high-detail Swisstopo maps with a detail of 1:35'000, with an added layer of routes. In contrast to conventional tour maps, this route layer also shows levels of difficulty, and a total of 1600 carefully researched key points – tricky situations like the passing of ravines or highly exposed areas.

This combination of zoom levels, together with the premiere of difficulty colour grading and the compact peak visualisations, results in a completely new access to alpine touring. After almost 3 years of hard work in a very small core team, we are very proud and happy to feel the reception of the Tourenatlas, and we're looking forward to see what happens next.

After about 2,5 years of gathering data, conceptualising, designing and developing, the Ski & Snowboard Tourenatlas Schweiz was officially born into the world through a vernissage on November 1st, 2013, in Zürich. For this launch, the authors – Nicolas Fojtu and Markus von Glasenapp from Helvetic Backcountry – founded their own publishing house. Although very proud and convinced about our product, the response was staggering; the first edition, 3000 books, was sold out within two months. Orel Füssli placed it on their bestseller list, and the response from both media and the big players in the ski/snowboard tour industry was overwhelmingly positive; SAC called our approach 'a milestone' for alpine tour planning.
And the story continues; In fall 2014, Räthische Bahn started featuring maps and directions for tours from the Tourenatlas with connection to their network, and renowned tour magazine Höhenfieber has introduced special markers for those of their tours which can also be found in our package.

...or how to solidify an information flow?
In early 2006 we started searching for a solution that allows readers to store their online reading path. The key point of the project was the transformation of combined website fragments (texts and images) into a linear-layout printable booklet. With the click of a button, the web fragments become editable, and the booklet can be extended with personal content, notes etc. The structure of the book layout is clean, but offers enough basic flexibility for individuality. When a booklet is composed, you can choose to print, export (PDF), or upload it to the Trails Public Library, and share your research trails with the rest of the world.

...or how to walk through a book?
The topic for this highly collaborative research project at Bern University of the Arts (CH) was Literature on Maps. In the approach we finalised as a working interactive prototype, the text isn't attached to specific coordinates (as we know it from Google maps etc.) but to graphical shapes. Just as literary description can stretch in both time and space, these shapes expand to encompass the relevant areas. This makes the map into a visual index, allowing for exploration along and across both literary and geographical levels; clicking on an area brings up a text passage, and reading a passage highlights an area on the map. Similarly, when accessing Texplora on a mobile device, it allows you to walk through different passages of text, which are then scrolled-to and highlighted on the screen in your hand.

...or how can a physical book shelf grow in digital form?
In a re­defin­i­tion of the clas­sical role of a pub­lish­ing house, Kein & Aber (Zürich, CH) launches a func­tional beta of their brand new on­line store, for both print and di­gital products. Our idea was to re­think the phys­ical book­shelf as a nav­ig­a­tional in­stru­ment. This early ver­sion, pro­grammed by dreipol, is just the start; the func­tion­al­it­ies of the di­gital shelf will keep grow­ing over the com­ing two years.

...or how to draw a path through the WWW?
Perspectives is not so much about publishing new stuff as it is about weaving existing material into new narratives. For most of the young life of the WWW we've been working with blog posts, link lists and feeds. We've settled into an archaic workflow, full of new tabs and bland lists of bookmarks. Every piece of online content is an island, fetched and consumed in sequence. Born out of a desire to guide an audience through various online materials, presenting threads of personal views while still keeping those threads firmly anchored, Perspectives' approach is dead simple: a mutable container for content, next to a stable container for the guiding narrative.

...or how can we experience different people's paths through a city, live, on stage?
Under the um­brella of Wem Gehört die Stadt, Mar­tin Bieri in­vites 8 guests on 8 even­ings, to show their per­spect­ive of the city of Bern, in the on-stage dia­logue Die Stadt der An­deren.
Mar­tin Bieri asked us to fig­ure out a way to visu­al­ise these stor­ies, live and on-stage. The res­ult – a mariage of cas­ual cof­feeshop talks and a game of Play the Satel­lite - was performed in Schlachthaus Theater Bern in Summer 2013.

...or how to understand an unknown writing process?
The Wälchli Machine, inspired by the little-known but utterly fascinating work of auteur Alfred Wälchli, was a research project at the Swiss Literature Institute. The aim of the project was to find a way to edit Wälchli's work in a way that respects its complexity: not unlike the members of the Oulipo movement, he used self-imposed writing constraints; he used numerical sequences for the composing of both phrases and words, reminiscent of permutations or anagrams; he replaced syllables inside single words, creating completely new ones. Perhaps his most fascinating tactic was his way to use the A4 format as a procedural frame. Instead of rewriting paragraphs or chapters, Wälchli wrote – on his mechanical typewriter – up to 30 versions of one single A4-page before moving on to the next page, covering each with handwritten corrections and new ideas.
In this context we developed an editing concept and a working prototype that extends the traditional scholarly editing praxis from observation and commenting to reproduction. We argue that in order to gain understanding of a work like this you have to get your hands dirty. You have to produce in order to grasp the implications of procedures, and you have to iterate in order to draw conclusions. This take on literary editing brings up new questions about authorship, understanding texts and even about aspects of copyright in the digital age.

Visit the project site for more info.

...what can print learn from the screen?
Although most of our work revolves around moving from Print to screen, and the effects of this transition, we find is equally important to walk the other way. Looking around, most attempts to fuse print and screen are mere replicas of paper in digital form; moving photographs and talking text. With Access to Pages (Atop), however, we apply digital strategies to paper, highlighting qualities of both mediums. The indexes take on a super important role; maps creating open, flippable landscapes to be explored through haptic links. Ideal for project documentation, the flexible Atop format is atlas, encyclopaedia and world in one.

...or what is visual organisation?
Gather your material –be it text, images, videos– and arrange it using circles on images. The circles can be manipulated in size, colour and transparency, and the background can be any image you choose to upload – a photo, a graph, or a simple gradient. The maps you generate in this way, personal or public, lets you be precise subject to image, not language.

Astrom / Zimmer is a small, independent, Zürich-based design and development studio, founded in 2011 by Anthon Astrom and Lukas Zimmer. We focus on projects that bring Print and Pixels together in innovative ways, and alternative methods for curating and narrating digital archives.

Back in 2007, setting out on the path towards Astrom / Zimmer, we found common ground in questions around the shift from paper to screen: how to present implicit relationships between contents; how different mediums warp time and shift focus; how to translate analogue strategies and workflows into the digital, without resorting to emulations, or the alluringly efficient but dangerously simplified lists popping up everywhere.
Today, these same questions have moved from self-initiated experiments to applied systems. Together with universities, businesses and cultural institutions, we work with objects and information of great varieties, and always try to bend the rules just enough to provoke new possible answers.

While most of our projects are commercial assignments, workshops and lectures are an essential part of the A/Z practise; we still develop things we call 'Interactive Ideas', built solely to spark and animate engaged discussions about design and communication practices and cultural contracts.
Such workshops and/or lectures have been held at Triple Canopy and METRO (New York, US), MICA (Baltimore, US), ESAD (Valence, FR), the Swissnex Institute and the Books in Browsers Conference (San Francisco, US), University of Vienna (AT), Zürich University of the Arts (CH), écal (Lausanne, CH), Lucerne University of Applied Sciences and Arts (CH), Rotterdam University (NL) and many more.

Over the last 6 years, our work has among other things been acknowledged with two Swiss Federal Design Awards, been nominated for the Swiss Design Price, and won the Best of Swiss Web.

If you'd like to know more, sign up for our newsletter, or send us one:

Astrom / Zimmer GmbH
Bändlistrasse 30, CH-8064 Zürich
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