Otl Aicher's work was the underlying theme of the project "In and Out", realized by KISD students in cooperation with the company FSB GmbH. Under the guidance of designers Karen Donndorf and Prof. Iris Utikal, the "Integrated Design" students entered into a dialogue with Aicher's work and its relevance for the present by means of research, observation and experimentation. Here they report on their experiences.
Opening and closing doors is usually associated with actions in space. In the one-semester product design project “In and Out”, we wanted to explore situations of entrances and exits in order to derive insights and develop new scenarios. In doing so, we asked ourselves various questions: How will doors (also) open and close in the future? Will we come up with appealing and meaningful ideas and designs for entering, leaving, lingering at and using entrances and exits, doors and gates? On the occasion of the 100th anniversary of Otl Aicher’s birth in 2022, we also wanted to take into account his design work, his writings. Are Aicher’s works, methods and theses still valid and useful in the eyes (and hands!) of today’s students? Can aspects of it flow into their own works? These are not easy questions, especially since Aicher’s creative and journalistic works were created half a century ago.
The project is a cooperation between the KISD Köln International School of Design and FSB Franz Schneider Brakel GmbH + Co KG as partners within the project “Otl Aicher 100 – Greifen und Begreifen”. This included interesting insights into Otl Aicher’s work and attitude, as well as the cooperation with FSB by Kai Gehrmann and a visit including a guided tour through the production at the company’s site in Brakel. Inspired by Aicher’s thorough investigations into the working fields of his clients, extensive research was carried out at the beginning of the project. The result was a collection of the most diverse examples ranging from doors and door handles to garage doors, windows or car doors. Empirical experiments on locking and opening principles followed. For a deeper understanding, some of these principles were reconstructed in simple models and examined. The insights gained this way and the inspiration from Aicher’s works became the basis for the product designs on the subject area of opening and closing, entrances and exits. In the spirit of Otl Aicher’s trend-setting work, ideas and designs were thus created not only for the immediate present but also for the future.