Otl Aicher was one of Germany's leading designers whose work was a big influence on my education. Hi main focus was on crisp, clear visual language and legibility, stripped of all arty and unnecessary things. His believe was that a good design is a design which works in reality and which serves everyday life and human being.*
Otl Aicher was the director of the "Hochschule für Gestaltung" in Ulm, which in the beginning was leaning heavily towards the Bauhaus and, over the time, developed own design principles, now famously known as "The Ulm Model".
Together with his colleagues, Otl Aicher designed the corporate identity of Lufthansa and was involved in product design for the electrical appliance company Braun. The HfG defined what we call today "Visual Communication"
After the Ulmer Hochschule für Gestaltung had to be closed for political reasons, Otl Aicher was commissioned as the head designer for the Olympic Games 1972 in Munich. This was - in the eyes of the design community - his biggest achievement, as these were the first Olympic Games in Germany after Hitler's 1936 Games in Berlin. Aicher had to create an image that had to correct everything the image of the Berlin Games had presented to the world.
The pictograms he developed as part of the Olympic design are stillin use worldwide today.
Later on he created Corporate Identities for institutions and banks like ZDF, Dresdner Bank, Sparkasse and Westdeutsche Landesbank, Munich Airport, Deutsche Airbus.
His font Rotis, developed in 1988, is today one of the world's best known and recognized fonts.
Just by coincidence some of my teachers at Uni and my first employer were students of Aicher and huge fans of his meticulous and exact designs.
His specific way to utilise grids and to work with white space became pretty soon second nature to us.
I remember, that in my first job after uni, when we worked on brochures for Deutsche Airbus/Aerospace, my boss flew regularly from the North of Germany to Rotis in the South to have Otl Aicher checked the artwork and to give us his OK (not always easy to get).
For those early brochures we were only allowed to use the colours red and black - full colour came only later. The planes for example were drawn by hand and angles had to be on 45º. And we could be sure that each time Aicher would find elements which were one millimeter out of line within seconds.
Deutsche Aerospace/Airbus brochures, 1990/91
I'm using more colour today and I can't always implement Aichers strict design rules, but I am still fascinated by his work and his way of thinking.
PS: I just got send this link which shows London's design consultancy Bibliothèque's collection of Aicher's 72 Olympics work: