An Outstanding Education (Rome University of Fine Arts, 2018)

Founded in 1998 by sculptor Alfio Mongelli, the Rome University of Fine Arts (RUFA) offers Bachelor and Masters programs in both Italian and English across a wide range of Fine Arts disciplines. Given its area of business and that it commissioned the award-winning design firm Intorno Design, RUFA’s 2018 annual report is one of the best we have reviewed.

The annual report is presented in a white slipcase and comprises two books – one built to a landscape orientation, the other to a portrait format. Immediately, the reader is alerted to an unconventional approach to the design as the horizontally oriented book carries a picture on the cover that has been rotated 90 degrees clockwise along with one of the two lines of text. This sets the tone and pace of what is to follow: the reader is invited to rotate the cover, to pause, to actively consider.

The cover of the small, second volume pulls a different trick. It is set into the slipcase and its cover is completely blank. The reader is pulled to withdraw the book and open its cover. Here the reader is met with an elegant two-colour book of pure text. Italian appears on verso pages in black, while the English translation appears on recto pages. The ragged-right text is given plenty of room to breathe.

Two small flourishes elevate this book – each individual writer’s name appears vertically on the verso pages, always in a slightly different position, creating a sense of movement. Page numbers appear only on recto pages, and by reducing this small but key design element, the pages somehow come alive.

It is difficult to single out any one aspect of this report as more worthy than others. The typography, portraiture, infographics, page grids – all of it shines. It is no wonder the report won Silver at the European Design Award in the annual report category in May 2020. It is surprising that it did not take the gold.

Unusually for an annual report, the many people who contributed to this outstanding piece of design are carefully credited. Where possible, materials used are also listed. RUFA’s 2018 annual report is a thoughtful work, with excellent attention to detail and a lot of love for its subject matter.

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