Phinney Bischoff has been working with the Allen Institute for over a decade. Over that time, we’ve crafted new Allen Institute and Brain Atlas brands, worked with them to establish a new brand architecture, designed various brand assets including new digital assets, tradeshow booths, ads, and lobby graphics. And for the past five years, we’ve also designed their annual reports.

Founded by Paul Allen in 2003, the Allen Institute created a new paradigm for science research organized around three big ideas: Team Science, Big Science, and Open Science. The institute conducts collaborative research on a large scale, sharing a massive trove of data with the global scientific community in the hopes of accelerating the rate of scientific discoveries.

Parsing the Complex

A key challenge in designing Allen’s annual reports is distilling complex information into compelling short-form storytelling. We found inspiration in the beauty of the institute’s stunning array of macro photography—of brain structures, cortex nerve cells, human stem cells, and bioelectric mechanisms. Paired with clean and structured layouts to help readers parse complex information, the scientific imagery becomes the hero of the reports, documenting the institute’s work in a visually engaging way. Each report’s cover represents a yearly theme while also capturing the truly global impact of the Institute’s work.

The result is five years of thoughtful, minimalist annual reports that beautifully represent the scientific work done every year by the Institute. They serve as key marketing pieces at job fairs and conferences, as well as sought-after archives for current employees and stakeholders. We are honored to help the Allen Institute document the annual chapters in its history.