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Otl Aicher



1922 Ulm
1991 Rotis

Otl Aicher, whose name was really Otto Aicher, started off by studying sculpture at the Munich Art Academy in 1946/47. By 1948 Otl Aicher had his own graphics practice in Ulm but in 1967 he moved it to Munich. From 1972 Otl Aicher lived and worked in Rotis in the Allgäu. In 1952 Otl Aicher married Inge Scholl who was a sister of Hans and Sophie Scholl (they had founded the "White Rose" group against the Nazi Regime and were both killed). Together with his wife and the Swiss designer Max Bill, Otl Aicher designed the theoretical curriculum concept for the Hochschule für Gestaltung in Ulm (HfG), which was founded in 1953. Max Bill became the first director of the HfG while Otl Aicher taught visual communications. At first the teachings of the school borrowed heavily from the Bauhaus. Following disagreements about the structure of the curriculum, Max Bill resigned as director in 1956. Otl Aicher became a member of the board of directors; from 1962 to 1964 he was sole director. Development groups were established at the HfG, which operated as independent design practices within the overarching framework of the design school. This teaching concept would later become famous as the "Ulm Model". Contacts with industry were aggressively sought and maintained. The Ulm HfG with the famous electrical appliance-maker Braun and Braun employees Dieter Rams, who was a product designer for Braun from 1956, and Hans Gugelot. In 1962 Otl Aicher was head of a development group that designed the look which to the present day represents the Lufthansa corporate identity. For political reasons, the funding needed by the Ulm Hochschule für Gestaltung ceased in 1968 and, despite all the success it had had, the design school had to close its doors. In 1967 Otl Aicher was commissioned as the designer for the 1972 Munich Olympic Games. The pictograms he designed for the various sports are still the standard worldwide. Otl Aicher developed the visual side of the image for numerous institutions, banks and insurance companies, including the ZDF (Second German Television Channel), the Westdeutsche Landesbank, Dresdner Bank, the Sparkasse, the Raiffeisenbank and Bayerische Rück (reinsurance). In 1984 Otl Aicher founded the Rotis Institut für analoge Studien at Rotis in the Allgäu; from 1988 it produced the Rotis scripts. Otl Aicher died of injuries sustained in a traffic accident on September 1, 1991.

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