Annnual report design doesn't have to be drab and boring. Here are 10 awe-inspiring examples of designers who've taken the format and let their imaginations run wild.
They're part of the staple diet of design work the world over, seen by many as just part of the dry, bread-and-butter grind that pays the bills and paves the way for more exciting, imaginative work. But annual reports don't have to be dull, as these beautiful examples show. From cutting-edge print techniques to stop-motion animation, artful infographics to bold use of colour and integration of classy free fonts, it's all here on display to inspire your own daily work.
01. Seguros Pelayo
An innovative take on reporting facts, figures and other corporate info from Madrid-based studio Biografica, this stop-motion report for Spanish insurance firm Seguros Pelayo features everything from cutout figures to an impromptu papercraft football match. A great example of how a slick delivery can make even the most straightforward information appear more engaging.
02. Austria Solar
Sometimes the client's core business can spark off an innovative idea so perfect it seems it was always meant to be. This was certainly the case with this report by German agency Jung Von Matt for solar energy client Austria Solar.
Proudly heralded by the team as the first ever annual report powered by the sun, its pages remain blank until you take it outside, where they flood with type and colour.
03. Can Xalan
Beautifully and strikingly simple in concept, this trilingual report by Albert Ibanyez for Can Xalant (the Centre of Creation and Contemporary Knowledge of Mataró) is available in Catalan, Spanish and English, with each language matched with a corresponding gradient of colour on the cover, which is also carried through the imagery inside as a tint.
A joint effort between Dutch studios Da Costa Design, Studio Pino and Via Veneman, this annual report for Vrijwilligersacademie Amsterdam forms part of a broad overarching identity concept that includes stationery, promo movies, flyers and posters.
05. Craft Victoria
Although born and raised in Oslo, Anders Bakken recently completed his BA in communication design at RMIT, Melbourne, and this impressive annual report design for Australian arts organisation Craft Victoria shows off his love of tactile print materials, including textured paper stock and translucent section break dividers for maximum effect.
Completed as a student brief while at Miami International University of Art & Design, Alex Pabian's striking newsprint report for the New York Times Company explores her love of traditional print values with such slogans as: 'You say paper is dead? Go look in your wallet' and 'Newspaper. Keyword: paper'. The whole thing is folded with a simple yellow band-wrap, featuring the title's iconic 'T' logo.
Another example of stunning report design by German agency Jung von Matt, this time notable for its compelling art direction rather then its innovative print techniques.
Produced for L-Bank, the State Bank of Baden-Wuertemberg, the report visualises data as a series of gallery-style installations - artistically arranging clusters of phones, lamps and other items, and combining the stylish photography with minimal copy.
Set up by a German, a Greek-New Zealander and a Welsh Iranian, Brighten The Corners maintains studios in both London and Stuttgart. Its bold, conceptual annual report for Austrian lighting company Zumtobel comes in two volumes: one containing only the simple hard data; the other visualising a conceptual 1998 motion piece by artist Anish Kapoor, bursting with a rainbow of vibrant hues and printed used 10 neon spot colours.
Some might call it self-indulgent, but renowned New York-based designer Nicholas Felton has been producing fascinating 'personal annual reports' since 2005, presenting a huge array of data concerning his professional and business life in a stylish infographic format, and selling them through his site as pieces of art in their own right. His Biennial 2010/2011 report takes this a step further, exploring Philip K. Dick's assertion that personality can vary based on your location and the people around you.
10. Adris Group
A real showcase for what a healthy production budget can achieve, Bruketa&Žinić OM's report for Croatian firm Adris Group is entitled 'In Good Hands', and makes extensive use of thermochromic ink throughout.
The black cover reveals green floral details when heated by the warmth of your hands, while the internal illustrations - silhouettes of shadow animals - reveal the hands that are creating them. Bruketa&Žinić OM has also created a glow-in-the-dark report for the same client.
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Have you seen an imaginative approach to annual report design? Let us know about it in the comments!