Hans-Ulrich Allemann


Teaching at Kansas City Art Institute (1967-1969)

School Days in Basel, Switzerland, late 60’s. Hans Allemann, Chris Zelinsky, Inge Druckrey

Together with my classmate Inge Druckrey I was working as a designer at an agency in Zurich [Halpern]. Armin told me that he had received information from the Kansas City Art Institute. The chairman of the Graphic Design department, Rob Roy Kelly, was interested in hiring somebody who had studied at the Basel School to teach in his program. Unfortunately I had to turn down the offer because I did not know any English. I told Inge about the opportunity. She talked to Armin and decided to move to Kansas City [1966]. A year later she called me and told me that the department was interested in hiring another Basel graduate. This time I accepted. I had enough time to sign up for 12 lessons of conversation English at a Berlitz school before I left for Kansas City in the summer of [1967]. A professor from Oxford taught the Berlitz course. When I landed in the Midwest I couldn’t understand a single word (laughs). This is how I came here the first time. I had a visa, issued under the cultural exchange program between Europe and the United States.

The two years in Kansas City were a life changing experience for me. It was not just the opportunity to teach, which I had never intended to do, but also because of what was happening at the time. This was the late 60s! I came from a completely different world. Compared to Europe, the US is a young country. As big as it is in size, it seemed to be more agile, open and full of possibilities. This is what intrigued me about this country and its people. I was only 23-years old.

Teaching at the Philadelphia University of Arts (1973 – 2009)

In 1973, working in Zurich again, I received a phone call from Ken Hiebert, then chairman at the Philadelphia College of Art. I knew Ken from our school years in Basel. Ken had an open teaching position because Steff Geissbühler (another school mate of ours) had decided to move to NYC, and Inge Druckery, who had moved to Philadelphia in 1971, had accepted an offer from Yale University. I accepted the invitation and I returned to the US. My idea was to stay for 3-5 years. If that would have been the case I should have left around 1978… well, I’m still here (laughs).