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Rotis® Semi Serif

By Monotype

Otl Aicher

Developed by graphic design iconoclast, Otl Aicher, the Rotis® Semi Serif font family is a member of the Rotis® Font superfamily. Rotis Semi Serif, along with the Rotis® Serif font family, the Rotis® Semi Sans font family, and the Rotis® Sans font family, is a controversial typeface that, nonetheless, has experienced lasting staying power and a stalwart reputation in the design world.

Every time that someone passes a ‘Warning’ sign with its iconic stick figure pictograms, he or she should be thinking of Otl Aicher. This giant of graphic design essentially invented this now ubiquitous design element during his tenure as head designer for the Munich Olympics. Coming off that success and more, Aicher decided to settle in the southern German town of Leutkirch im Allgäu, pursuing a combination of corporate contracts and personal artistic pursuits.

One such project was the development of the Rotis Superfamily for technology and photography giant, AGFA. Aicher set the bar high– his goal was not only to develop a font family with a wide range of applications, but also one that broke long-held typography rules about the distinction between sans serif and serif.

A key element in this ambitious goal was the creation of Rotis Semi Serif. Positioned as a mid-step between Rotis serif and Rotis Semi Sans, Rotis Semi Serif was designed in a semi antiqua style with hinted serifs. The choices like this employed by Aicher in his design would prove to be very polarizing in the typography community.

Rotis Semi Serif, however, went on to great success and is prominently used in many logo designs. Aicher himself passed away in 1991 as a result of a car accident. Monotype Imaging purchased the rights to the entire Rotis superfamily and reissued them after Aicher’s passing.

Linotype: Rotis
Erik Spiekermann: Rotis
Rotis Sans

Rotis Semi Serif serves as the primary display typeface for the San Diego campus of the University of California. ‘No Logo’, a significant book in the anti-globalization movement by Naomi Klein, also used Rotis Semi Serif for its cover design.