How do you document 42 distinct research projects, communicate them across multiple platforms, and maintain narrative and visual coherence? That was the task Gensler faced when it set out to create the Gensler Research Catalogue: Volume 1. From the outset, the Catalogue was intended to be more than simply an encyclopedic guide to all of the firm’s research. It was also intended to serve as an illustrative manual for conducting research and communicating the findings. In order to be effective, the Catalogue needed to be an easy read. It also needed to convey the extent of the research bubbling up across the firm’s various practice areas. And because design is our calling card, the Catalogue of course needed a certain visual panache. We also wanted the Catalogue to lend itself to easy translation to other delivery channels. That’s why we set out to create a clear hierarchy of information and simple navigation cues that work in print and on digital platforms. The final product now serves as the template for the documentation of all future research endeavors, whether they be individual white papers or subsequent Catalogue volumes.
We created the Catalogue through an iterative and collaborative process involving a core team of graphic and information designers from across the firm, along with a broad editorial board focused on content, clarity, and design impact. The core design team met periodically, both virtually and in person, to share ideas and feedback in real time. Designers worked closely with the research teams to ensure content accuracy and relevance. Periodic meetings with a senior- and executive-level review board helped to refine larger goals and provide a fresh set of eyes to address content and navigation details. The intertwining of multiple branches of the Gensler tree and the back-and-forth nature of the process ensured that the final product speaks vividly and illustrates the depth and diversity of Gensler’s research.
The result is a publication that is refined yet progressive. It pushes the boundaries of research reporting and documentation and has been a hit with both designers and clients. So far, we’ve distributed more than 2,000 Catalogues to clients, peers, academics, and students. Another 4,000 have gone to our staff. Externally, the Catalogue has received accolades from a variety of camps. Through our university outreach efforts, teachers have expressed interest in using the publication as an example of how to conduct and present research. Clients have said that they see it as an example of our commitment to thought leadership and business- and evidence-based design. Internally, the Catalogue has received significant attention, including two wins in our own Gensler Design Excellence Awards. One of those wins is the People's Choice award, which relies solely on staff voting. In short, the Catalogue has achieved its goals. Part research complication, part communication tool, part inspirational document, the Catalogue shines a light on the theoretical undercurrents within Gensler and shows how to deliver such ideas with verve and clarity.