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#118 - 1972 Olympic Games by Otl Aicher

Sent the August 16th
Author face
Article written by
Juan Jesús Millo

Writing of the week

In 1966, the organizers of the 1972 Olympic Games in Munich asked Aicher to become the lead designer for the Olympic Games. He was asked to create a design for the Olympics that would complement the architecture of the newly built stadium in Munich, designed by Günther Behnisch. Aicher consulted Masaru Katsumie, who had designed the previous Olympic Games in Tokyo in 1964.

Drawing in part on the iconography of the '64 Games, Aicher created a set of pictograms intended to provide a visual interpretation of the sport they presented so that athletes and visitors to the Olympic Village and stadium could orient themselves. These designs directly influenced the DOT pictograms, developed in 1974 by the U.S. Department of Transportation, which applied the same principles to standard public signage, such as toilet and telephone signs; DOT pictograms have in turn been used around the world. The series of pictograms he created was no simple task; the goal of each pictogram was to function as a clear signal of the activity it represented and, at the same time, maintain its universal comprehensibility.

Otl Aicher also helped design the logo for the Munich Olympic Games. He went through several stages with his design team before finally finding the successful emblem. One of his 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 a child pointing in the distance while holding a book in his hand.

Other ideas were to use the surroundings of the city, referencing the sun, mountains and landscape within the design. Finally the "Strahlenkranz" was created, a garland representing the sun but also the five Olympic rings fused together in a spiral shape. Designer Coordt von Mannstein reworked Aicher's original design using a mathematical calculation to amalgamate the garland and the spiral into the final design.

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