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April 24, 2010

Isotype (International System Of TYpographic Picture Education) is a system developed by Otto and Marie Neurath in 1920s Berlin to present statistical or educational information through images rather than language. First used by the German government the system, referred to by the Neuraths as The Transformer, employed a specially devised vocabulary of pictograms to communicate to widest possible audience, regardless of language or literacy. As an introduction to the subject, a good place to start would be The Transformer, published by Hyphen Press, written by Robin Kinross and containing an extended essay by Marie Neurath herself. In his review for Eye, Erik Spiekermann concluded that “anybody who has any interest at all in transforming information visually and in design thinking needs this book”. And at only £15, what more encouragement do you need?

In a workshop yesterday we created simple infographics based upon the Isotype system and statistics from homeless charity St Mungo’s. The image above shows the percentages of homeless suffering from alcohol and drug addiction, as recorded by a survey conducted by the charity last year.

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