My first introduction to the Designers Republic was when I played the game WipEout on the original Sony Playstation. Yes, I’m comfortable with openly stating the fact that I owned one way back when. It had been a particularly brutal time, that first year of pre-med, when a full one-third of the pre-med class had failed some aspect of the final exams and had to spend the summer studying for re-sits. I had managed to get through, and decided to treat myself by purchasing my first-ever console gaming system – the Sony Playstation. I had spent the majority of my life being a certified PC gaming geek, starting off with a Commodore64 and then graduating to an IBM PC. The notion of a gaming system that was CDROM-based and had dedicated hardware that didn’t need to be upgraded piecemeal was too compelling to ignore – besides, I felt like I had earned it after getting through a grueling set of exams.
I remember one of the first games I ever played was this anti-gravity racing game, set way in the future, called WipEout. It was insanely difficult, but my friends and I kept going back to it until we actually became pretty adept at steering the craft. I’m convinced that one of the reasons we didn’t just hurl our controllers at the screen in frustration was that the game’s fully realized world and design language were just too compelling. To this day I still hum snippets of the intro title music as well as recall the introductory sequence for the game.
I would come to find out that this was no accident, as the team of game developers at Psygnosis in Liverpool (most likely flush with a little cash from Sony, as this was to be a launch title for the nascent console) very astutely decided to hire the prominent Sheffield-based design firm Designers Republic to manage the visual language of the game’s marketing and packaging. One gets the sense that DR jumped into this project with the full fervor of a Chemical-Brothers-inspired drop. From the exterior branding to the logos, typography, and even the creation of a unique visual aesthetic for each of the racing teams, this game became an audiovisual tour de force. Clearly my developing brain imprinted the flat, compelling vector style that was at once both visually arresting and functional.
I knew that by working with an artist as talented as Eleanor, we could look at fusing our high-yield health-science visualization with various art styles that we found compelling – and this is one of those instances. Eleanor and I had actually exchanged emails pertaining to my love of DR for another poster, but she very astutely chose to save this particular look for the immunology poster. And the reason I say this is because of a single icon.
The second I saw the first draft of her immunology effort I realized that she had completely and utterly understood everything that I loved about DR. You see, one of iconic figures of the WipEout series was an icon called Angryman. Its origins and purpose remain unclear, but perhaps it signals some sort of templar-like corporate entity pulling the strings behind the scenes. It continued to pop up in various ways throughout the WipEout games. DR also seemingly took a shine to their creation, as they shortly afterwards co-opted it as their official logo – a rare thing for a design house to do.
Scanning down the page of Eleanor's Immunology draft, I recall being amazed once again at the density of information, the use of color, the clean blocking and grid-work – and then I saw it.
The antibody icon. The same icon I had drawn at various times in med school – that classic capital Y shape born as an amalgam of two separate polypeptide entities – the light chain and the heavy chain – coupled with its own unique antigen binding sites at the tip.
OMG, the DR Angryman had been co-opted by TabletopWhale and NerdcoreMedical, flipped on its head (literally) and turned into our very own IgG antibody diagram!