Calgary Foundation

A Year Without Touch

Problem

Calgary Foundation’s Vital Signs is an annual report measuring our city’s quality of life, providing a yearly snapshot of where our heads are at. The report is widely circulated with politicians, media outlets, corporations, non-profits, and Calgary’s general population.

2021’s report was a year like no other; our first year lived entirely through a global pandemic. Our challenge became finding a design language that would allow the statistics to depict the deeper meaning of the story. We didn’t want to talk about the pandemic, we wanted to talk about what it meant.

Solution

For many of us, 2021 wasn’t defined by what we had, but what we missed — each other. It was the year we didn’t hold our parents, embrace our friends, or touch the hands of strangers. Our shifting feelings about the physical touch of others, how we both yearned for and were afraid of it, became the fundamental visual language. 

We leveraged the new meanings and associations we now have with touch and contact — from the longing absence of simple affection to the visceral repulsion we might now feel from a surface or object touched by many strangers — to frame the unusual context this year’s report has over previous.

This special edition of the report features a black foil-stamped thermochromic ink cover activating and becoming transparent upon contact, bringing a sense of immediacy and reality to the effects of our touch, and providing a tactile experience to contrast a year where most have been made virtual.

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