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Isotype: design and contexts, 1925–1971

Christopher Burke, Eric Kindel, Sue Walker (editors)

  • ISBN


  • extent

    544 pp

  • binding


  • dimensions

    240 x 170 mm

  • illustrations


The work in graphic communication carried out by Otto Neurath and his associates – now commonly known simply as Isotype – has been the subject of much interest in recent years. Conceived and developed in the 1920s as ‘the Vienna method of pictorial statistics’, this approach to designing information had from its inception the power to grow and spread internationally. Political developments in Europe played their part in its development, and production moved to the Netherlands (1934) and to England (1940), where the Isotype Institute continued to produce work until 1971. Bringing together the latest research, this book is the first comprehensive, detailed account of its subject. The Austrian, Dutch, and English years of Isotype are described here freshly and extensively. There are chapters on the notable extensions of Isotype to Soviet Russia, the USA, and Africa. Isotype work in film and in designing for children is fully documented and discussed. Between these main chapters the book presents interludes documenting Isotype production visually. Three appendices reprint key documents. In its international coverage and its extensions into the wider terrain of history, this book opens a new vista in graphic design.


Foreword (Eric Kindel & Sue Walker)
Introduction (Christopher Burke)

1. The Gesellschafts- und Wirtschaftsmuseum in Wien [Social and economic museum of Vienna], 1925–34 (Christopher Burke)

Die bunte Welt [The vivid world], 1929

2. The graphic formation of Isotype, 1925–40 (Robin Kinross)

Original exhibition charts, 1933

3. The atlas Gesellschaft und Wirtschaft [Society and economy], 1930 (Christopher Burke)

4. Figurative constructivism and sociological graphics (Benjamin Benus)

Photography at the Gesellschafts- und Wirtschaftsmuseum

5. Picturing Soviet progress: Izostat, 1931–4 (Emma Minns)

6. Interlude in the Netherlands, 1934–40

Wereldverkeer [World trade], 1936

International picture language, 1936

Basic by Isotype, 1937

‘Rondom Rembrandt’ [Around Rembrandt], 1938

Exhibition technique and museum plans, 1938–9

7. Isotype in America: Otto Neurath and Rudolf Modley, 1930–9 (Hisayasu Ihara)

8. The Isotype Institute, Oxford: war, welfare, and post-war reconstruction, 1941–8

Social security, 1943

Social insurance, 1944

‘America and Britain’, 1943–4

‘The Soviets and ourselves’, 1945–7

‘The new democracy’, 1944–8

9. Animated Isotype on film, 1941–7 (Christopher Burke)

10. Graphic explanation for children, 1944–71 (Sue Walker)

Future Books & Future magazine, 1946–52

British Council Study Boxes, 1950–1

11. Isotype in Africa, 1952–8 (Eric Kindel)

12. Pictogram design: Vienna and beyond (Christopher Burke)

Otto Neurath, ‘Social and economic museum of Vienna’, 1925
Marie Reidemeister, ‘The modern hieroglyphic script’, 1928
Marie Neurath, ‘Social and economic museum of Vienna, 1925–1934’, 1978