Vorwerk’s history is fascinating – they began in Germany in 1883 as carpet makers, soon moved onto building the mechanical looms that made carpets, spent WWI creating military hardware (they’re most famous for the twin barreled Gast Gun), were absorbed into the Nazi war effort in WWII, recovered from the bombing of its largest factory and finally, after the war, invented their own vacuum cleaner (the Kobold) using parts from gramophones and went back to making carpets and household electronic appliances. Along the way, they purchased a series of smaller companies and strode into the 21st century.

Their 2017 report is endlessly optimistic, reflecting the verve with which they’ve survived the trials of their history.

This optimism is first conveyed by the lenticular print on the cover that, in three consecutive images conveys the emotional shift in a human face from sadness to joy, thereby firmly cementing the theme –human feeling– in the reader’s mind. Optimism as a desirable state of mind is further conveyed by the cheerful tone of voice used in the report, perfectly matching the visuals.

The coupling of emotion to household electrical appliances is a clever choice as it allows them to tie together human experience and their (emotionless) products, even imbuing these with humourous personalities, exemplified in the ‘conversation’ between a modern Kobold vacuum cleaner and a food processor.

This playful spirit is retained throughout the book via production techniques including the use of magnets, a slim packet of fizzing sherbert and instructions on making a paper plane, making for an inventive, interactive report. They don’t stint on the quality of materials either – the crisp, uncoated paper stock reproduces photographs with startling clarity.

The only break in the relentless examination of human feeling is the clever design and placement of the financial section of the report.

This is a designed as in independent book and located in the middle of the thematic content. As it is not bound to the spine of the main report, it functions as a clever commentary about how reading the financials should be the only area where emotion plays no part.

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