Isotype is a technique used for visualising social statistics through graphic methods. It was developed for the first time at the Museum of Society and Economy of Vienna in the 1920’s.
Its objective was to explain social and economic topics to the general public illustrating statistic data in a comprehensible manner. Isotype was founded by sociologist and philosopher of the Vienna Circle Otto Neurath. Members of the team that Neurath gathered around him included Marie Reidemeister (who would later become his wife) and graphist Gerd Arntz.
Arntz was a German artist that was politically compromised with the left. With his schematic style he managed to display Neurath’s ideas through elemental signs and pictograms that communicated complex notions in a clear and intelligible way.
The Isotype method expanded to the Netherlands, Great Britain, the USSR, the United States and other regions. Many of those who collaborated with Isotype had to flee fascism twice, first in Vienna in the year 1934, and later in the Hague in 1940. Finally, they were established in Oxford, where Otto and Mari Neurath founded The Isotype Institute.
After the death of Otto Neurath in 1945, Marie Neurath and her collaborators continued developing Isotype in London. In this new phase they specially centred on the design of illustrated books about science, technology and history aimed at children.