After HfG was closed, Aicher started thinking about having a design Utopia. In 1972, he passed through Rotis when working for the Olympics, and decided to buy this property and to build his Utopia here. He rebuilt and expanded the old mill, and added garage, cafeteria, dormitories, family house, as well as offices for his team, himself, font design, photography ect.
The winding creek went through the dense forest: the typical countryside scenery in Germany. That is how Rotis looked like in Aicher’s mind. He indulged in design in this peaceful place, and proudly named it Rotis Autonomy Republic. What confuses me is why Aicher didn’t design a logo for his Republic. I once joked that maybe because he could not afford the design fees. As a matter of fact, Aicher thought bigger apparently: he made Rotis a classic typeface and put it to thousands of designers’ font libraries, making it a more influential spirit and value: liberty and freedom in this complex world.
The design Aicher did for Isny, a small town near Rotis, reflects nature’s influence on design. The local people are still proud of the design and make it their souvenir.
Back to the time without computers, design still required certain physical elements, such as sketch, drawing board, drawing tools etc. Therefore, Aicher set different design office according to different categories, which certainly required a lot of space.
The room on the first floor of the garner was Otl Aicher’s Font Office. The window in the newly photographed picture is the one that Aicher once stand by in the old picture. Now we can only see the window.
The guest room for visitors on the second floor of the Font Office, also converted from the garner, is spacious, comfortable and modern. The electricity used for bathing or cooking and everything in Rotis is photovoltaic. It is very convenient.
Florian Aicher, the Architect who redesigned the garner is the eldest son of Otl Aicher.
There were no commercial shops near Rotis, so we had to cook by ourselves.
Aicher’s office on the second floor of the garage remained the same structure, only the wood of the stairs had rotten and the office is now used for other functions.
Inside the studio, the metal hanger attracted our attention instantly. It was one of Otl Aicher’s favorite designs, and can be used to install lighting for workbench or operating bench. It can also be used to contain books, tools and other things. The design of the open kitchen of Bulthaup developed the hanger further, and finally became an indispensible part of the modern kitchen design. It also shows Aicher’s capability in architect, product and graphic design.
Though Rotis is quiet and away from the city, Otl Aicher and his team designed and created a number of important brand images, such as Bulthaup, ERCO, FSB etc. at the same time, they served the significant clients such as Lufthansa, Deutsch Bank, ZDF, BayWa and so on. It was so ambitious and strategic, that people of recent time cannot imagine how he managed it in that time without computers.
The similar scenes with a lapse of 30 years, and please note the branches over the two people’s heads.
Back then, the big names in design and business industries gathered in Rotis, of whom, Norman Foster often flew from London to Rotis to talk about projects. The two masters cooperated in Bilbao Metro project, and Aicher was in charge of brand and environment design.
The old arch in the stable, which is east to the garner, is also the largest indoor space in Rotis. It was where the big names gathered and talked. You can almost hear their laughter and talking in this space now, even it is empty.
Otl Aicher liked gardening. He enjoyed the time as a gardener.
The chair designed by Aicher, is simple and comfortable. It had been imitated many times, and we only came to know this is the original after coming across it here.
Modular Outdoor Seating, 2009
Aicher was compulsively strict with the tidiness of his lawn, and often mowed the grass on his own. On 26th August, 1991, he was struck by a motorcycle at the cross road while mowing, and died six days later due to the injury on his head on 1st September.
The cross road where the accident happened
He was buried in the cemetery at Hofs Church near to Rotis. In 1998, his wife Inge Aicher was buried here next to him after she passed away.
Inge Aicher is an exceptional educator and social activist.
Rotis returned to quiet after Otl Aicher’s death, and the once design Utopia bowed out the design stage. Though the descendants of Aicher still lived here, big names or guests came no longer or less. Only the scene in the twilight remained splendid.
In this common dusk, we had to set out to go home, and our exploration trip would also come to an end for this time. The golden sunglow changed silently, just as time flowing. I felt relieved when seeing this: isn’t this scene of silence and emptiness what Otl Aicher had been pursuing with his enthusiasm in his unsettled life?
Wish every one of us could find the final peace like Otl Aicher. Above is a designer’s tribute to the predecessor and his expectation of his unknown future.
Thank you for reading.
Some of the pictures are from the book Otl Aicher, published by PHAIDON, and some from Internet or Wechat shares.