Autumn 2011

On autopilot

A5 / 05: Lufthansa and Graphic Design: Visual History of an Airline

Lars Müller Publishers, £20

A5 / 05: Lufthansa and Graphic Design: Visual History of an Airline (Lars Müller Publishers, £20) charts nearly a century of corporate design history with a handsome survey of the German airline’s design and advertising, plus background articles and interviews.

The story starts in 1918 when Otto Firle, the Berlin airline’s head of press and propaganda, chose the crane logo – to symbolise flight and technology – and the colours dark blue and yellow orange, all of which figured prominently in the earliest poster dating from 1919.

Posters from the 1920s, featuring an elegant leisured elite, give way to heroic Nazi architecture in the 1930s. In the 1950s the logo was given greater prominence, and later on a parabola was introduced, but there was little visual unity across the airline until the 1960s.

In 1962 Lufthansa poached Hans G. Conrad from Braun, who commissioned Otl Aicher to work on the visual identity. The airline’s design manual of 1963 is still viewed as one of the most timeless and systematic examples of corporate design. Conrad entrusted his advertising budgets to agencies Heumann Werbegesellschaft and DDB.

Further revisions were made in 1980, and in the late 80s, following its privatisation, the airline’s key colour became yellow, with grey and silver as secondary colours – elements still in use today.

First published in Eye no. 81 vol. 21 2011


Eye is the world’s most beautiful and collectable graphic design journal, published quarterly for professional designers, students and anyone interested in critical, informed writing about graphic design and visual culture. It is available from all good design bookshops and online at the Eye shop, where you can buy subscriptions, back issues and single copies of the latest issue.