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Munich ’72 – Design Legacy Exhibition | UCA Canterbury 29.6 — 31.7. 2012


Munich ’72 Design Legacy Exhibition and Symposium

29 June – 31 July 2012
Herbert Read Gallery
University for the Creative Arts,
UCA Canterbury CT1 3AN



This exhibition at the UCA Canterbury campus presents the design heritage of the Munich Olympiad during 1972. The project draws upon Ian McLaren’s collection of relevant material (some of which can be seen on this website) obtained as a result of his having been a senior member of the design team. The exhibition provides a first hand account of the evolution of the designs and subsequent commercialisation of aspects of the work produced for Munich’72. An accompanying symposium will combine contributions from figures who worked with Aicher alongside respected practicing designers. The exhibition coincides with the passage of the Olympic flame through Kent.

Otl Aicher
The design work was led by Otl Aicher who sought to project the lightness of the Bavarian landscape and the character of southern Germany. Aicher’s team developed a range of material which is probably best remembered for the innovative and exemplary series of posters; and a range of pictorial symbols which subsequently has been adopted and extended worldwide with considerable commercial success, thanks to Aicher’s close collaboration with the German lighting manufacturer ERCO.The story of Aicher’s work with ERCO and his influence on later designers will provide the theme for a symposium accompanying the exhibition.

The colour palette was one of the most significant aspects of the identity. It was based upon the heraldic colours of Bavaria, light blue and white (as used by BMW and the Hofbräuhaus brewery). Aicher chose these, together with the light green of the Bavarian alpine landscape, as the principal elements to provide a light palette (which required bespoke ink formulations). The lightness of colour was reflected in the adoption of a light typeface (Univers 55). The colours in the German national flag were expressly excluded.

Each Olympiad produces it’s own distinguishing symbol, used in association with the Olympic rings. The original proposal in the case of Munich a simple radiating ‘sunburst’ was felt by the legal department to be unenforceable when licensing official products. A competition was held for the symbol, which Graphicteam Köln won with a more complex design combining the ‘sunburst’ with a dynamic radiating spiral.

Gymnastics poster
The sport posters were designed by a team led by Gerhard Joksch. In the case of ‘Gymnastics’ note the inversion from left to right; removal of the curtains; introduction of two horizontal bands; and the retouching of the Japanese insignia on the costume, to remove identification with a particular nationality.

Munich ’72 (first graphic poster)
The first graphic poster to be produced was required to act as an intital ‘banner’; and frequently was used in conjunction with the photographic posters at promotional events. Because it was used internationally in unspecified language zones, to avoid verbal translations no text was included other than the headline “Munich ’72”. As no buildings were yet completed it used a graphic treatment of part of a photograph of the architectural model (which used a woman’s stocking to simulate the stadium roof). It set the graphic style for the later sport posters.

Cultural programme posters
The posters for the associated cultural events combined horizontal colour bands in the official colours with graphic imagery. Ian McLaren chose to use a consistent single horizontal line running throughout each. The poster for Folklore was the sole occasion where Aicher permitted black to be used within a graphic device.


Copy by Ian McLaren



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