San Francisco-based design studio Mucho has created an AR annual report for the University of California (UC), combining “the tactility of a printed piece” with digital enhancement.
Mucho has worked with UC Investments office designing its annual reports for the past seven years. The report sets out information on the company’s performance but Mucho’s creative director Rob Duncan says “it doesn’t have to just be numbers”.
This year the studio looked to take a different approach opting for an AR report that could “push the boundaries of storytelling”, a direction which also reflected UC’s “extremely chaotic” year, according to Duncan. Despite this, Mucho and UC’s chief investment officer Jagdeep Singh Bachher wanted to position the tone of the document around the university’s investment strategy: “Where others see chaos, we see opportunity”.
To bring the strategy and statistics to life, Mucho animated “chaotic, kinetic typography illustrations”, says Duncan. The studio commissioned UK-based multidisciplinary designer John Burgess to work on the typographic designs after seeing examples of his motion work. Duncan says they were intrigued by Burgess’ ability “to make things move dynamically and energetically”, which is what they were looking for when designing the report. Mucho also worked with digital print studio Plotnet Prints on the report.
Different messages from the UC investment strategy are communicated through phrases which appear within the illustrations. Duncan explains that Mucho learned a lot about “the technical challenges” within AR and that the design process involved a lot of “testing and communicating” with the app developers to understand which markers “help or hurt a certain illustration” when animating it.
Whyte by type foundry Dinamo and Lyon by Commercial Type were chosen for the report. Duncan says they were the best typeface options to keep the report “legible and professional” for its audience, including primary stakeholders of the UC Investments Office and the UC Office of the President.
The primary hues for the report are yellow, black and white. Throughout each annual report, the colours used to represent different products within the UC Investments portfolio remain consistent.
Mucho also designed the envelopes to go with the report, using black foil-stamped paper in an effort to hint at the chaotic typographic style that appears on the pages. Duncan describes how the foil creates “a really nice tactile feeling” and how the “vibrant university yellow” of the report cover contrasts with the “sleek black envelope”.
The cover features a collection of jumbled letters with an O in the negative space. When animated through AR the letters spell out the word “opportunity”, representing the theme overarching theme of the report. Duncan says that “clever phrases” linked to “the chaos in the markets”, such as ‘gas $’ and ‘crypto’ appear on the cover.
With many companies opting for digital annual reports these days there are less print briefs that their used to be in the category. Duncan believes online reports open up “a lot of opportunity for sound, movement and animation” but reinforces that there is still an appreciation for “the tactility of a physical printed piece”. Since Mucho has designed UC’s reports for seven years, introducing AR gave the studio a chance to bring “something different, fresh, and relevant” to the 2022 report, says Duncan.
Duncan adds: “We hope that more companies and designers get inspired and motivated to keep making print products. There’s so much opportunity that already exists, and with technology advancing the way it is now, there will only ever be more.”