2. June 2022, Press release of the International Design Center Berlin e.V. (IDZ)

otl aicher 100: “of course a car is also a sign” – Otl Aicher’s critique of the car. Retrospective and discussion

With a retrospective of Otl Aicher’s book “kritik am auto – schwierige verteidigung des autos gegen seine anbeter” (Criticism of the Car – Difficult Defence of the Car against its Worshippers) published in 1984, the IDZ continues its series of events on the “otl aicher 100” initiative. The discussion evening will take place on 25 June 2022 in the rooms of the former Ulm School of Design.

Berlin, 2 June 2022 – This year, the International Design Center Berlin (IDZ) rememberers the life, work and impact of the designer, who would have turned one hundred on 13 May, with the web platform otlaicher100.de and a complementary series of events. Questions that concerned Aicher will be discussed and explored in depth with today’s representatives of the design world.

The discussion on 25 June will focus on his book “kritik am auto – schwierige verteidigung des autos gegen seine anbeter“, published in 1984. Aicher writes “a critical book about cars, but he does not hide the fact that he loves cars”, says the blurb. His interest in the overall phenomenon of the car, to which he dedicated his analytical, sometimes polemical writing, corresponded to his enthusiasm for technology. He took 100 years of automobile history as an occasion to review concepts, models and strategies. He also addressed the “limits of resilience”: environmental aspects, road safety, speed limits and toxins.

In the past forty years, the automobile, markets, social demands and economic trends have fundamentally evolved. Aicher could hardly have foreseen most of today’s current trends. The car is still the first means of social distinction, but the often predicted collapse of the transport system has not yet occurred. Autonomous driving may change the way it is used, luxury and design extremes dominate the scene. Where does criticism of the car operate effectively today?

Under changed conditions, what Otl Aicher already said back in 1984 applies today: “the concept alone obviously doesn’t do the trick to make a good car.” Today, we are concerned with the question of how the car must be designed in order to be less dominant in the interaction with other forms of transport, as well as to appear more urban-friendly. Questions that are also on the agenda in the discussion round are how pointless traffic can be avoided and desired mobility can be enabled.


Peter Wouda runs the Volkswagen Group Future Center Europe in Potsdam and designs visionary studies for the VW Group with his team. He tries to design answers for the challenges of the future from an industry perspective. Wouda is a member of the board of the IDZ Berlin.

Prof. Lutz Fügener is head of the Design and Mobility Department at the Faculty of Engineering at Hof University of Applied Sciences in Selb. For many years he has been one of the best-known lecturers training automobile designers in Germany. At the same time, he has repeatedly appeared in public with critical positions on the development of the car and the priorities of the industry.

Prof. Dr.-Ing. Gebhard Wulfhorst, Chair of Settlement Structure and Transport Planning at the Technical University of Munich, criticises misguided developments in mobility at city and transport planning policy level. Traffic that does not arise in the first place through cleverly planned cities and regions also does not cause any unwanted aspects.

Florian Aicher begins by reporting on his collaboration on the exhibition and the book “kritik am auto”. At the same time, he tries to relate criticism as formulated by Otl Aicher in 1984 to present sceneries.

The Hamburg journalist and critic Thomas Edelmann will moderate together with Florian Aicher.

On this evening, visitors can gain impressions of the architecture of the HfG and study some of the exhibition panels from 1984, which the HfG-Archiv Ulm, host of the event, will set up especially for the occasion. In addition, “delta 1”, the prototype of a sports car from 1967, can be seen in its original form. Created as a “study object for lightweight construction principles” by Henner Werner, Michael Conrad and Detlef Unger, graduates of the HfG Ulm, the car was introduced in Aicher’s book.

“of course a car is also a sign” – Otl Aicher’s critique of the car
Retrospective and discussion, an event of the IDZ Berlin in the context of “otl aicher 100”.

Venue: HfG-Archive Ulm, Am Hochsträß 8, 89081 Ulm, Germany
Date: Saturday, 25 June 2022, beginning 7:00 p.m.

Please register on time! You can also register now for the following events in this series.

We will be happy to provide you with photo material for press coverage upon request.


Editorial team:
Florian Aicher, Thomas Edelmann, Prof. Dr. Chup Friemert, Kai Gehrmann (Artistic Director), Jasmin Jouhar, Katharina Kurz, Prof. Dr. Dagmar Rinker, Gerrit Terstiege and Fabian Wurm (Chief Editor).

Funded by the Federal Cultural Foundation. Funded by the Federal Government Commissioner for Culture and Media.

Corporate partners:
Bulthaup GmbH & Co KG; ERCO GmbH; FSB Franz Schneider Brakel GmbH + Co KG

Further sponsors and cooperation partners:
Bauhaus Dessau e.V.; Akademie der Künste, Berlin; Deutscher Werkbund Berlin e.V.; HfG-Archiv Ulm

Media partners:
ARCH+; brand eins; ndion

Contact for media enquiries:

Wilhelm Nöldeke
Medien & Kommunikation

IDZ | Internationales Design Zentrum Berlin e.V.
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