Human Body as a Factory
Dr. Fritz Kahn (1888–1968) was a Berlin based gynaecologist and popular science writer who visualized the structure and function of the human body in a very unique way. His magnum opus “Das Leben des Menschen” (The Life of Man, 1922–1931) fascinated laymen as well as scientists with its visual analogies and metaphors and their unusually expressive and contemporary design.
To pique his reader’s curiosity for the sciences and anthropology, Kahn tried to be up-to-date in both content and form. The predominant and more conventional illustrations were created in the publisher’s design department, following Kahns instructions. For more complex images, Kahn commissioned freelance painters, architects, and graphic designers who implemented his ideas in their own styles. A famous example was the almost life-sized poster “Der Mensch als Industriepalast” (Man as Industrial Palace) of 1926. This conceptual way of illustration became Kahn’s trademark and is now considered as a pioneer work of information design.
After the Nazis came to power, Kahn had to leave Germany, his books were banned and burned. He emigrated to Palestine, later to the US, and a Swiss publisher enabled him to issue further popular science books. Although designers throughout the world have been inspired by his illustrations, Kahn could not pursue his creative approach in the post-war time, and his name fell into oblivion. Recently, thousands of weblinks, numerous visual quotes, and a growing number of references in academic literature indicate an awakened interest in his visualizations
German Infogrpahic from 1926, by Friz Kahn
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