The Olympic Feats of Otl Aicher

Remembering the man who pioneered brands including Braun and Bulthaup

Otl Aicher may not be a household name, but chances are the work of this German designer has grabbed your attention or entered your home. Pioneering brands for companies like Braun and Bulthaup, Aicher was an influential graphic designer, urban planner, photographer, and the mastermind behind the imagery for the 1972 Munich Olympics and the Rotis typeface. A child of Nazi Germany, Aicher, along with his friends Hans and Sophie Scholl, organized the anti-Nazi political organization Die Weisse Rose (the White Rose). In 1943, the Scholls and Aicher were arrested by the Nazi party. While Aicher was released, the Scholls went to trial where they were found guilty of treason and executed. After the war Aicher went on to help rebuild his ravaged city of Ulm and to found the influential international school of design, Hochschule für Gestaltung (HfG). The first comprehensive monograph of Aicher’s life and work, Otl Aicher, written by Markus Rathgeb, comes out this month from Phaidon. Recently we talked with the author—a professor of graphic design at the University of Cooperate Education, Ravensburg—about the influence that Aicher’s work has had on contemporary design.

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