Otto Aicher

Otto, known as Otl, Aicher was born in Ulm on the Danube in 1922. After studying sculpture at the Munich Academy Otl Aicher founded a graphic studio in Ulm. In 1954 Aicher became a founding member of the Ulmer Hochschule für Gestaltung (College of Design), where he subsequently lectured in the department Visual Communication and from 1962 until 1964 was employed as principal. With his students and together with Fritz Eichler Aicher designed exhibition systems and communication tools for the then sensationally seen profile of the Kronberg firm Braun AG at the 1955 Düsseldorf trade fair. He developed branding for companies like Deutsche Lufthansa, ZDF television, ERCO lamps, Frankfurt Airport, Westdeutsche Landesbank and Dresdner Bank. In the years between 1967 and 1972 Otl Aicher was commissioned with the visual design of the Munich Olympic Games. Here he designed the system of pictograms for the Olympic disciplines that is still the international standard today. Aichler used as reference the icon system invented by the Japanese Katsumi Masaru for the 1964 Olympic Games, he simplified and geometrized the symbols so that their sign character became more pronounced. For his work on pictograms, subsequently also for the lamp manufacturer ERCO, Aichler conducted comprehensive research, he collected and studied international sign systems and carried our surveys at world exhibitions. The pictograms that he developed for companies, banks and for the public environment were from the formal viewpoint culturally neutral. He regarded them as an international communication system. In 1984 Aichler founded the Rotis Institute for analogous studies and in addition to his work as graphic artists he undertook far-reaching publishing activities. Otl Aicher died in 1991.