The Right Way Up (GEWOBA 2019)

GEWOBA is a German housing company, functioning as a real estate service provider and development agency. Its 2019 annual report is both a visual and tactile delight.

At first glance, the report resembles a moving box with handgrip holes and ‘handle with care’ labels on corrugated board. The two bold arrows reiterate the title ‘Said. Done’.

A quirky white typeface resembling handwriting begins at the cover page and leaves its mark right throughout the report, enhancing the content in various ways – even being so bold as to change or enhance ‘official’ messages completely in certain places.

A message from the CEO and board member is accompanied by a candid photo of them both. This, coupled with the friendly, ‘handwritten’ type puts the reader at ease.

If one looks closely at the top right of each page from this point on, page numbers are marked with two arrows (often used in the shipping industry to mean ‘this way up’), prompting the reader to turn to the next page.

The illustration style is twofold in this report: one is a flat, two-dimensional style full of colour and used only for human figures, with no features on their faces apart from their smiles. The other is an informal, naive type of pencil line drawing.

When the reader approaches pages 14-15, intrigue mounts, as there is a sneak peek into different locations of completed projects, and when the flaps of both pages are opened completely, the reader is able to explore these locations further on a speckled map, with additional details.

Pages 16-17 have more informal line drawings, making connections between concepts such as mobility and climate sensitivity and how they are all strengthened by each other.

A pleasant combination of illustration and photography can be seen on pages 23-24, and on the pages that follow, an amalgam of both illustration styles can be seen as well.

On pages 36-41, we see three stories from three perspectives of various shareholders. The combination of illustration and photography creates interest here as well.

Environmental sustainability is important to the company and a number of pages in the latter part of the report are dedicated to it. Pages 54-55 demonstrate this clearly through a creative double spread illustration, with figures as proof.

GEWOBA has certainly said and done, and is moving the right way up.

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