Achieving greatness

The Lien Foundation is a philanthropic organization specializing in the care of elders, early childhood education and environmental sustainability in water and sanitation. Their report for 2016-2017 covers these areas, with a special focus on human growth, ageing, sickness and death.

The report draws inspiration from the famous anatomy textbook, Gray’s Anatomy for its visual language, specifically its approach to illustration which is modeled on the work of Henry Vandyke Carter, the original illustrator for Gray’s Anatomy.

The report is a master-class in the use of illustration to enliven and inform.

Illustration takes form as infographics, paintings, collage, comics and (primarily as) coloured ‘etchings’, echoing Carter’s work. The attention to detail is exquisite and helps the report transcend its function as a corporate document. Visually, the design speaks more to an encyclopedia of the Dorling Kindersley variety than the financial account of a company.

Use of materials is to be noted, as well. The report comes sheathed in a yellow-green Perspex slipcase that catches the light and fairly glows when handled.

The book-binding cloth used on the cover is thick, beautifully textured and it speaks highly of the printers that they achieved such a crisp reproduction of the debossed text.

A selective varnish on the endpapers contributes to the texture of the book. These details again, speak of company that pays attention to the minutiae of life.

The tone of the text is noteworthy. The report speaks mostly of anatomical systems in the body, but these quite complex explanations are delivered with casual reference to philosophy, pop culture, transhumanism, Chinese logograms and Greek art, making for a voice that is erudite but never overwhelming. The Lien Foundation have achieved something remarkable with this report – an annual report that is a sumptuous visual feast and a pleasure to read.

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