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Otl Aicher: Munich 1972 Olympics Poster

​Otl Aicher (May 13, 1922 – September 1, 1991), also known as Otto Aicher, was a German graphic designer.

Born in Ulm, Aicher was a classmate and friend of Werner Scholl, and through him met Werner's family, including his siblings Hans and Sophie Scholl, both of whom would be executed in 1943 for their membership in the White Rose resistance movement in Nazi Germany. Like the Scholls, Aicher was strongly opposed to the Nazi movement. He was arrested in 1937 for refusing to join the Hitler Youth, and consequently he was failed on his abitur (college entrance) examination in 1941. He was subsequently drafted into the German army to fight in World War II, though he tried to leave at various times. In 1945 he deserted the army, and went into hiding at the Scholls' house in Wutach.

He was heavily involved in corporate branding and designed the logo for German airline Lufthansa in 1969.

Aicher may be best known for being the lead designer for the 1972 Munich Olympics. He created a new set of pictograms that paved the way for the ubiquitous stick figures currently used in public signs. The pictograms were created to provide a visual imterpretation of the sport they featured so that athletes and visitors to the Olympic village and stadium could find their way around. He created pictograms using a series of grid systems and a specific bright colour palette that he chose for these Games. In 1966 Aicher was asked by the organisers of the Games to create a design for the Olympics that complemented the architecture of the newly built stadium in Munich designed by Günther Behnisch. Aicher consulted Masaru Katsumie who designed the previous 1964 Tokyo Olympic Games, for advice on how to create the new designs for the 1972 Munich Olympic Games.

Otl Aicher also helped to design the logo of the Munich Olympics. He went through several stages with his design team before finally finding the successful emblem. One of their first ideas was to use an element of the city's coat of arms or Münchner Kindl within the design which showed a monk or child pointing into the distance while clasping a book in his hand. Other ideas were to use the surrounding areas of the city, referencing the sun, mountains and landscape within the design. Finally the Strahlenkranz was created, a garland which represented the sun but also the five Olympic rings merged together in a sprial shape. Designer Coordt Von Mannstein reworked Aichers original design through a mathematical calculation to amalgamate the garland and spiral together to get the final design.

The colours chosen for the designs of the games were selected to reflect the tones of the Alps. The mountains in blue and white would make up the palette of colours which also included green, orange and silver. The colours were used to identify allocated themes such as media, technical services, celebrity hospitality and public functions and each had a different colour so visitors could differentiate the themes around the stadium and village. Uniforms were colour coordinated to represent these themes, the Olympic staff could be identified as working for a particular department by the colour they were wearing.

Aicher used the typeface Univers for the Olympic designs. The design team produced 21 sports posters to advertise the sports at the games, using the official design colours and also including the logo and "München 1972". The design team used a technique called "posterization" for the graphics on the posters, separating the tonal qualities from the images and using the official munich colours for these games. This had to be produced manually as photoshop did not exist at this time. The first of these posters that was created manually in this way was a poster of the Olympic stadium which became the official poster for these games. these posters were displayed all around the city of Munich and around the Olympic sites. Posters were hung in twos alongside posters designed by famous artists chosen to represent this Olympics such as David Hockney, R. B. Kitaj, Tom Wesselmann and Allan Jones.

He also created the first official Olympic Mascot, a striped dachshund named Waldi.​

Image source:

Text source: Wikipedia