The AZ Project is a wonderful resource of graphic design, an archive of great designers and typographers. It is a site and a book, and we will focus on some designers presented on the book, that by the way can be downloaded in english or italian.
Here is its concluding paragraph: “100 graphic designers to tell a story, to describe different approaches to visual communication, some rather unique, others more common, all relevant in some way, in five important areas of graphic design. These 100 may not be the greatest graphic designers of all time but they are certainly among the finest. Thanks to them, the AZ Project Graphic Design took off, an archive on international graphic design that will soon be expanded with new profiles of other important designers, of the past or present. It is the first step, a way to launch the project, a pondered selection of some of the most successful graphic design projects of the past century. However, a lot of work still has to be done…”
Meticulous and impeccable, Aicher’s approach to graphic design is interdisciplinary. Opposed to Nazi authoritarianism, he is arrested in 1937; he is then drafted into the German army, and in 1945 he prefers to desert rather than to take part in World War II. He studies sculpture at the Akademie der Bildenden Künste in Munich in 1946. A year later he opens his own studio, Büro Aicher, in Ulm. In 1953, together with his wife Inge Scholl, he founds the Hochschule für Gestaltung in Ulm, one of the most important schools of design in the world, where he teaches visual communication from 1954 to 1966 and becomes the director from 1962 to 1964. He starts working for Braun (1954) Westdeutsche Landesbank, Blohm & Voss and Lufthansa (1962-1964). In 1972 he takes care of the Munich Olympics Games corporate identity designing a series of internationally comprehensible pictograms. In the same year he works for Bayrische Rückversicherung, in 1974 for Zweites Deutsches Fernsehen and from 1976 for Erco. In 1982 he moves to Rotis and in 1984 he founds the Institut für Analoge Studien. In addition, he designs numerous typefaces, like the Rotis font family (1989), which includes sans-serif, semi-sans, serif and semi-serif versions.
Aicher is an interesting example of how a designer can creatively develop his work using a limited vocabulary.
According to Aicher, only by using a precise series of standards is it possible to generate a consistent and unambiguous brand identity. An example is the Lufthansa project, a brand that obtains high visibility thanks to the use of few simple and systematically repeated elements, all gathered in a manual which describes each of their applications. This manual is based upon three essential elements: the pictographic logo that portrays a stylised crane in flight, with a sharp and essential silhouette, contained in a circle which stresses the incisiveness of the bird; the use of the typeface, Helvetica, sans-serif and minimal; the chromatic system, based on yellow (for the circle) and blue (for the crane and the circumference). Moreover, the logo and lettering are always present, essential and integral components of an approach that pursues uniformity for an unerring identification. With all the possible combinations of the basic elements, the manual defines the graphic landscape of Lufthansa: from the interior (and exterior) design of the planes to the photographic style of their ads, from the uniforms for the personnel to the packaging, right up to the smallest details like the sugar, salt and pepper sachets.
Source: AZ Project
The book AZ Project Graphic Design, both in Italian and English, is the last step of the project, an “extra” respect its modifiable online counterpart. Created for the nostalgic and still numerous lovers of printed books (which provide better reading and can be kept with care), the book is supplemented by an essay on the history of graphic design by Dario Russo, which introduces the project with precise references to the 100 graphic designers and their seminal work.