Summer 1996

Bards of the balance sheet

How corporate designers turn routine annual reports into epic narratives of business triumph

If someone were to write for graphic design the equivalent of John Ruskin’s Seven Pillars of Architecture, cetainly one of the principal columns supporting our collective overhead would be the annual report. Hailed by securities analysts, portfolio managers and investors as ‘the single most important document a public company produces’ (according to a 1995 study conducted by Yankelovich Partners for the pulp and paper giant Potlatch Corporation), what began over 300 years ago as an oral address at annual guild banquets has become in the late twentieth century the most sophisticated form of corporate oratory yet devised.


Will Novosedlik, graphic designer, Toronto

Read the full version in Eye no. 21 vol. 6, 1996

Eye is the world’s most beautiful and collectable graphic design journal, published quarterly for professional designers, students and anyone interested in critical, informed writing about graphic design and visual culture. It is available from all good design bookshops and online at the Eye shop, where you can buy subscriptions and single issues.