More design book than annual report

Our coptic-bound effort for Arup celebrates design and engineering.

Perhaps now we know how John and Paul felt, sitting down in EMI Studios in 1966, wondering how to follow up Revolver.

Featuring pages of varying stocks and sizes, last year’s Arup annual report invited readers to engage with structure and materials the way Arup’s engineering does. Well received, it won awards across the world.

Now we had to raise the bar again.

“We wanted to tell an even richer story”, says OPX Creative Director David Bennett, “Arup are about great design, so the report had to reflect that. Done right, print is still special — and we wanted to make something people would be pleased to receive.”

Over the past four years, we’ve shifted Arup’s annual report further and further from its conventional A4 size. This time, we shrunk it again, creating a report with the look and heft of a design book — something more coffee table than boardroom table.

Engineering laid bare

Coptic binding was used to allow the book to lie flat and provide unimpeded views of the firm’s striking project imagery. We also liked its nakedness. The visible threads reveal and celebrate the book’s structural engineering — like the annual report version of the Pompidou Centre.

Similarly, the book’s cover is constructed from thick greyboard. A utilitarian material like concrete, its contrast with the glossy cover image reflects the balance between form and function in the built environment.

Every book needs its themes

Beyond the cover, we introduced content themes for the first time. Two were strategic aims of the firm: digital innovation and sustainable development. Then there was the firm’s community work and their enduring focus on professional growth.

These themes were brought to life through interviews with Directors and supported by case studies sourced from Arup offices around the world. By including these extra voices, we were able to tell a richer story.

Beyond the bottom line

Arup is owned by its members. That means, unlike most, their annual report isn’t about reassuring shareholders.

“Reporting sound finances is an important foundation but the big job of the report is to inspire”, says David Bennett. “We want to show everyone at Arup the scope, scale and impact of the work they’re all doing. Through the use of material, storytelling and high-impact imagery, I think we’ve achieved that.”

“Every year, we collectively aspire to raise the bar. And every year we do just that — in design, in creative ideas, in choice of materials, and in print. Thank you all very, very much for yet another wonderful report.”
Karim Klaus Emara, Chief Marketing Officer, Arup

You can download the Arup annual report here if you’re so inclined.