Since 2014, design studio Mucho has created the Annual Report for the University of California Investments office. But for its latest edition, it has shaken things up by chucking augmented reality into the mix to bring the contents and data to life on the page.
The report, titled 'Where others see chaos, we see opportunity', charts a period that has proven extremely turbulent where the market is concerned. However, thanks to the smart investment and strong leadership of Chief Investment Officer Jagdeep Bachher, the university has successfully made its way through these choppy waters.
To reflect its contents, Mucho decided to bring some interactivity to the printed piece by working with illustrator John Burgess. His kinetic typography, illustrations and animations are based on the core messages found in the report, namely that 2022 was financially chaotic but also exciting and uplifting at the same time.
The result is a technically challenging annual report unlike any other. Designed around messages that mirror the university's thinking, such as "staying agile has its rewards" and "patience. Persistence. Progress", the completed package is mailed in a sleek, typographic black foil stamped envelope.
Once eased out, the report captures the eye immediately thanks to its cover of jumbled black letters on a yellow background. There's a signal to be found in this noise if you look hard enough, though, with the letters spelling out key themes of the year if you have a keen eye. At the centre of these letters is the letter O – created out of negative space – which introduces the augmented reality that awaits readers within its pages.
Speaking of the contents, Mucho has managed to convert what could have been intimidating financial data into a series of playful designs. This is mainly achieved through clever use of colour, typography and page layouts. Reflections are cleverly mirrored across a double-page spread, while numbers and statistics are positioned like equations or even become colourful pieces of design in themselves like a swirling vortex.
Regarding how it felt to work on this year's annual report, Mucho Creative Director Rob Duncan said: "It's a rare joy to still design printed annual reports. The University of California continue to challenge us to push the boundaries when we can, and they are a delight to work with each year.
"Combining print and technology this year was a challenge. We definitely learned a lot about what works and doesn't work in the world of Augmented Reality and print!"
But the challenge appears to have been worth it, as the University of California's Chief Investment Officer Jagdeep Bachher sounds pleased with the results. "I know a good investment when I see one, so that was just the beginning. Mucho has designed every annual report since I joined in 2014 as Chief Investment Officer. The work just keeps getting better, more imaginative and fun to read.
"UC Investments and Mucho have grown up together. They know who we are, and we trust them to know what we want. We're active collaborators. I wouldn't go anywhere else."