Even the preface is not stingy with superlatives: this book pays tribute to one of the “most important” and “most influential” designers of the 20th century. In the “long series of his masterpieces”, the appearance of the 1972 Olympic Games stands out “as the largest, most visible and best known”. The word “magnificent volume” is even part of the title of the latest 256-page essay and illustrated work on Otl Aicher. The editors are philosopher Wilhelm Vossenkuhl and architectural historian Winfried Nerdinger, who introduce Aicher as a thinker at the beginning of the book. Aicher as a teacher is portrayed in contributions by René Spitz (“The Doctrine of Moral Design”) and Tobias Hoffmann. Their texts deal with the “unity of art and design” that was often disputed by Aicher. The designers Wolfgang Sattler (Weimar) and Hannes Gump (Munich) write about industrial design and about colour, while Dagmar Rinker presents the work of Development Group 5 of the Ulm School of Design, with which Aicher realised industrial commissions such as the corporate design for Lufthansa, in order to gradually build up his own office on its basis. Designer Jan-Erik Baars, who teaches design management in Lucerne, traces the relationship between “design and administration” in Aicher’s work.

The chapter “Olympia 1972” takes a change of perspective in the generally biographical structure of the volume. Here, the multidisciplinary designer Kilian Stauss describes the work of Department XI (Visual Design) of the Munich Games organising committee, at which his father Eberhard Stauss worked closely with its director Aicher. Kilian Stauss has long been a strong advocate for the preservation of the design heritage on the Olympic site. Using Munich as an example, cultural scientist Simone Egger will discuss “The Built World and the Image of the City”.

Graphic design plays an essential role in the texts by Gillermo Zuaznabar, Linus Rapp and Tino Graß. They pay tribute to Aicher as an architect, photographer, typographer and type designer, before concluding with a new text by architect Norman Foster: “My Friend Otl Aicher”.

“The point today,” reads the volume’s preface, “is that we rediscover, recognise and understand Aicher.” kte

Winfried Nerdinger, Wilhelm Vossenkuhl (eds.):
Otl Aicher – Designer, Typograf, Denker. Magnificent volume with 250 illustrations. Hardcover with dust jacket, ISBN 978-3-7913-7943-2, Prestel Verlag, Munich, 2022
49 euros