Microsoft apac illustrationS
the anthropomorphic city
As part of the design for Microsoft's APAC headquarters, FITCH was tasked to produce a series of graphics that would span six levels of the office space. These include a set of custom illustrations reflecting the values, products and global impact of Microsoft as an organisation. In our efforts to envision an immersive and inspiring experience for both employees and visitors, incorporating these illustrations cohesively with the interior space was imperative.
The process began with conceptualising an overarching narrative that would encapsulate Microsoft’s personality as a brand, as well as its ideals of empowerment, innovation, diversity and collaboration. These illustrations were also meant to be a medium through which viewers were able to learn about Microsoft’s capabilities, products and achievements. Like with any project, it required taking a deep dive into the organisation’s culture and distilling information into succinct sketches on pen and paper first.
FITCH then took to portraying Microsoft as a series of living, breathing cities comprised of micro-narratives that showcased the breadth of its global reach. Within each cityscape, aspects of technology are given organic plant-like qualities that bring connectivity and act as a medium for collaboration, bridging people together. Speech bubbles of different shapes appear above these characters, reflecting an inclusive culture where differing viewpoints are embraced and heard. Case studies featuring the use of Microsoft technologies to empower people were embedded Easter-egg style within the cityscapesー one such example is the use of AI to revolutionize prosthetic devices in the healthcare industry.
In composing each of the layouts, it was necessary to build a library of visual elements for the following categories: notable landmarks from each of the global cities in which Microsoft reside, illustrated characters (including representation from LGBTQ, ethnic minorities, those with disabilities), narratives surrounding Microsoft’s select case studies and Microsoft’s latest products. These elements were created on a Wacom Cintiq and subsequently stitched together in layers within Adobe Illustrator.
Aesthetic considerations had to be made to ensure the illustration style was appropriate for Microsoft. While the project allowed for a large degree of creative flex, the illustration style had to convey a sense of playfulness without forgoing the professional and corporate nature of the organization. Widely referred to as vector-based “flat-illustration”, the chosen style is characterized by simple geometric forms and strong blocks of colour which simplifies information to be clear and universal. This was essential to conveying the specific narratives within the illustrations in a clear and universal way which would be difficult to misinterpret.
Much of the process involved studying works of illustrators such as Olimpia Zagnoli and Francesco Ciccolella that are able to convey similar concepts in a straightforward way.
In many ways, this style of flat illustration is fitting for a technologically focused organisation such as Microsoft. These rounded, geometric forms lend themselves to being easily replicated in the digital medium. FITCH‘s growing portfolio of illustrative works in recent years for projects such as The Other Roof and Singapore Bicentennial, is a testament to the marrying of analogue and digital mediums as part of the creative process within the industry.