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News BannerBirthday lecture Otl Aicher – The world as a design

Birthday lecture Otl Aicher – The world as a design

On the occasion of Otl Aicher’s 100th birthday on 13 May 2022, the HfG-Archiv invites to a lecture by Tilman Allert, author and professor emeritus of sociology and social psychology at Goethe University Frankfurt, in the refectory of the former HfG Ulm.

Otl Aicher (13 May 1922 in Ulm-Söflingen – 1 September 1991 in Günzburg) was one of the leading designers in the second half of the 20th century. As a co-founder of the legendary Ulm School of Design (1953-1968), where he was for a time head of the “Visual Communication” department, he continued to have a lasting impact on design education. His works have been exhibited internationally and are still a model for generations of future designers.

Otl Aicher did not only design in the field of graphics. He wrote, he taught, he philosophised. Above all, he was always a politically thinking and acting person. He had already refused to join the Hitler Youth as a teenager. That is why he was not admitted to the written Abitur. In 1943, his friends Sophie and Hans Scholl were murdered by the Nazi regime of injustice. In the last weeks of the war, he deserted, risking summary execution. He resisted throughout his life. Throughout his life, Otl Aicher was a political man who campaigned for political issues. He took part in Easter marches, demonstrated against rearmament and nuclear armament.

Otl Aicher’s significance for the history of design in the 20th century is undisputed. With the designs for the XX Olympic Games in Munich in 1972 and for Deutsche Lufthansa, he presented groundbreaking designs. They have lost none of their fascination to this day. Otl Aicher, as the official design commissioner for the XX Olympic Games 1972 in Munich, created a design concept together with his team that used the Berlin Olympics as a negative template. It deliberately avoided any pathos, gigantism or ostentation. All the designs of the 11th Division of the Olympic Committee aimed to create a very specific atmosphere, free of prejudices or national rivalries, but full of openness, tolerance and cheerfulness.

Born in Ulm-Söflingen on 13 May 1922, Otl Aicher studied sculpture at the Academy of Fine Arts in Munich from 1946 after the end of the war. As early as 1948 he opened his own graphic design studio in Ulm and moved to Munich in 1967. In 1952 Otl Aicher married Inge Scholl. Together with her and Max Bill they founded the “Hochschule für Gestaltung” in Ulm in 1953 with the aim of rethinking and reorganising life in Germany after the end of fascism. In doing so, they oriented themselves towards the ideas of modernism. Well-designed industrial products were to help everyone achieve prosperity and a good life in a democratically organised, free society.

Otl Aicher becomes the first lecturer for visual communication in the year the HfG is founded. In 1956 he becomes a member of the rector’s council, and from 1962 to 1964 he is the sole rector. In 1958 Otl Aicher is a visiting professor at Yale University and in 1959 a visiting professor in Rio de Janeiro. In 1967 Otl Aicher is commissioned with the visual design for the XX Olympic Games 1972 in Munich. Among other things, he designed pictograms for the individual sports, which are still used internationally today. Otl Aicher also developed the corporate design for companies such as Braun, FSB, ERCO, Lufthansa, ZDF, Westdeutsche Landesbank, Dresdner Bank, Sparkasse and Raiffeisenbank. He also designed corporate identities for towns such as Isny and Bad Gastein. In 1972 Otl Aicher moved to Rotis in the Allgäu. There he founded the Rotis Institute for Analogue Studies in 1984. In 1988, the typeface family Rotis is created. Otl Aicher dies after a traffic accident on 1 September 1991 in Günzburg.

An event as part of the programme accompanying the current exhibition “Otl Aicher 100 Years of 100 Posters“, until 8 January 2023, HfG-Archiv/Museum Ulm.

Without registration and reservation.

Free admission.



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