The International System Of TYpographic Picture Education is an absolutely fascinating case study in design ethics.
Isotype was developed by the Viennese social scientist and philosopher Otto Neurath. Neurath saw a virtually illiterate proletariat emancipating, stimulated by socialism. For their advancement, he knew, they would need knowledge of the world around them. This knowledge should, he thought, not take the form of (relatively opaque) written language, but should rather be directly illustrated in straightforward images.
Gerd Arntz was the designer tasked with making Isotype’s pictograms. In sum, Arntz designed some 4000 such signs, which symbolized data from industry, demographics, politics and economy.
The process of selecting the relevant symbols, creating the rules, and prescribing the interplay between Isotype and (say) German is a design task of absolutely epic proportions, which is to say nothing of the ideological component of the project. All told, I expect Isotype to prove incredibly compelling grist for thinking about design ethics, political ideology and design, and design communication.* It is in my estimation a rare find indeed.
|Tagged with:||Communication, Design, Design Ethics, Gerd Arntz, Ideology, Isotype, Marxism, Otto Neurath, Politics, Revolution|