Centenary of the birth of a design legend:

Otl Aicher and FSB


Otl Aicher was one of Germany’s leading 20th-century designers and moulded the corporate culture of premium hardware manufacturer FSB from Brakel in eastern Westphalia to lasting effect. He would have turned 100 on 13 May 2022.

FSB is taking the occasion as an opportunity to address itself intensively to Otl Aicher’s creative legacy, viewing it from a fresh, present-day perspective and subjecting it to critical re-appraisal. Throughout 2022, the company is engaging in a discourse articulated through a range of projects that focus not only on his work but also on Otl Aicher as a person. FSB will be underscoring his importance to the company by participating in exhibitions and centenary events in, amongst other places, Berlin and Detmold, as well by issuing a limited edition of the only lever handle Otl Aicher ever designed. The company Franz Schneider Brakel GmbH + Co KG has cooperation initiated with Aicher in the mid-1980s to thank not only for its evocative logo inspired by a door handle conceived by the philosopher Ludwig Wittgenstein. Aicher was a pioneer of visual communication who also devised a meticulously well-conceived public image for FSB that really lends expression to its corporate identity – and laid the foundations for a firmly rooted corporate culture.

“Otl Aicher is for graphic design what Dieter Rams is for product design”, says the British designer Jasper Morrison, whose creations include the FSB 1144 product collection, adding that he was “a driving force in the radical shift in approaches to design that occurred in the 1960s and 1970s, most notably in Germany, and which set new benchmarks for perfectionism and modernity in both graphic and product design.” Otl Aicher, who was born at Ulm in 1922 and had been married to Inge Aicher-Scholl since 1952, came to the public’s attention as the co-founder of the Design College at Ulm (HfG Ulm) and as the Design Commissioner for the 1972 Olympic Games in Munich. He specified coherent guidelines for the Olympic Games that embraced everything from uniforms to entrance tickets. With his radically pared-down pictograms, he invented a new sign language that could be readily understood by people throughout the world. FSB is continuing to supply its comprehensive range of pictograms with their compellingly lucid visual signals in 2022, thus affording the market access to universally applicable information signs for countless spheres of public life. As one of the pioneers of corporate design, Otl Aicher, worked with Development Group 5 at HfG Ulm to create the visual identity of the German airline Lufthansa. Further enterprises whose public images he was instrumental in fashioning include the German television channel ZDF, luminaire makers ERCO and kitchen fitment makers Bulthaup – to name but a few.

Otl Aicher and FSB began working together in the mid-1980s when the company’s then CEO Jürgen Werner Braun paid a visit to Aicher’s studio in Rotis. The ensuing intense level of cooperation with this “thinker of things” yielded a well-founded corporate culture and a new visual identity. Otl Aicher’s exhorting FSB to reflect upon itself also gave rise to the “Handle Culture” edition – a much acclaimed series of publications now numbering 16 books. Taking its cue from the “Four-Point Guide to Good Grip” Aicher drew up, FSB proceeded to commit itself to manufacturing products for hands that, as well as being persuasive in terms of their formal aesthetics, would also set new benchmarks for the market as regards their ergonomic qualities and user-friendliness. Aicher’s Guide posits that a door handle is well designed for operation by the human hand if it contains a thumbrest, a forefinger furrow, support for the palm and gripping volume. Otl Aicher derived inspiration from a door handle by the philosopher Ludwig Wittgenstein when developing FSB’s striking logo.

FSB is now marking the centenary of Otl Aicher’s birth by unveiling afresh the FSB 1305 lever handle he designed in the late-1980s, a small number of which were produced at the time for his studio in Rotis. The model is being issued in a limited edition of 100. It is being manufactured in a series of “FSB Handmade” one-offs in the finishes 0105 Silver Anodised Aluminium and 0810 Blasted Aluminium Black Anodised and will be launched in Berlin’s Academy of the Arts on 13 May 2022 at an event forming part of a project entitled “otl aicher 100” being run by the International Design Centre in Berlin.

A special exhibition marking the communication designer’s 100th birthday is additionally opening on 17 May 2022 at the Lippe State Museum in Detmold. It was put together by students at the OWL University of Applied Sciences and Arts and delves informatively into Otl Aicher as a person as well as into his creations for FSB, further brands and the Olympic Games in Munich.

About FSB
FSB has been boldly focusing on perfection for more than 140 years now and is a byword the world over for perfectly engineered hardware solutions for doors and windows as well as for barrier-free sanitary fit-outs of the highest order. Architects and builders’ clients relish reaching out for products from Brakel in recognition of FSB’s great design expertise and profound understanding of the requirements of modern construction. Everything in any way associated with handle culture in built spaces is catered to from a single source.

Franz Schneider
Brakel GmbH + Co KG

Anne Levy
Nieheimer Straße 38
33034 Brakel
Telefon: +49 5272 608-105