in Process, Research

Reflection: Week 12

Maybe because it brought back memories of having to draw ‘bar models’ in primary school to solve math problems, I was very intrigued in the concept of Isotype, short for “the international system of typographic picture education”, and the role it had in Graphic design.

Honestly, initially, maybe due to its prevalence even up til now, I never thought to think that this form of visual communication was a part of design. I have always thought that the logic behind Isotypes, which is to use quantities of the same icon instead of enlarging to represent relativity, was a given and not something to be created.

Starting off, an essential task of Gesellschafts- und Wirtschaftsmuseum museum, where Otto Neurath was founder, was to inform the Viennese about their city. Neurath came up with various pictorial charts using the, then known as, Vienna method. He nailed with creating sort of an universal language in which he was able to turn complex information to something ANYONE could understand and was self explanatory. This was also aided by “words, title, arrangement, type, number and color of symbols, caption etc.”. These charts were more than what meets the eye.

First off, these charts should not be seen as just rows of little man but instead Neurath’s wife believed Isotype charts could “introduce people to problems new to them without influencing them in a particular direction”. They both felt they owed it to the layman to help them understand statistics and the surrounding situations. However it also raises the question of how much should the truth be compromises for the sake of aesthetics and simplicity.  It was found that in the chart below, that between the original and the visualised data, there was a maximum discrepancy of 56.2% (from 128 to 200 families).

Secondly, Isotype also sees the bridging between science and design. It is an example of how mathematical analytics and creative thinking processes can go hand in hand in constructive ways. At this point, I feel a necessary need to bring up the exhibition Marie Neurath: Picturing Science. To think that someone who originally studied math and science created that, it really brings hope to the potentiality of being a T-shaped person in which this mod is aimed towards.