Isotype: international picture language at the V&A

I enjoyed this small but informative exhibition at the V&A today. Tucked away in the wing leading to the Sackler Centre, the story of the development of Isotype was an hour very well spent. ‘Isotype or ‘International system of typographic picture education’ was a method of showing facts pictorially. Its basic elements were pictograms – simplified pictures of people or things – graphically arranged to illustrate and explain social and economic issues to ordinary people. This display, in collaboration with the University of Reading, traces the story of Isotype over four decades, from its invention in 1920s Vienna to its flourishing in postwar Britain’ (V&A website).

The images show a book that caught my eye, I particularly like the headline ‘reducing fatigue in housework’ (second image) with the obligatory female figure portrayed in the diagrams. The third image has the headline ‘The changing position of women in Britain’, I’m sure women still do more housework than men, so we can only ask the question how much has the position of women changed really?

I bought this fantastic book From Hieroglyphics to Isotype: A Visual Autobiography published by Hyphen Press. Catch this small exhibition before it closes on 13th March, it’s well worth a visit.


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