Play creates a visual language for Elon Musk’s company Neuralink inspired by science textbooks
Play’s visual language development for Neuralink isn’t the futuristic approach you might expect.
- Lucy Bourton
- 22 January 2021
Play, a graphic design agency encompassing both illustrative and digital practices, has created the design and website build for Neuralink, a neurotechnology company. With Neuralink’s work focusing on developing implantable brain-machine interfaces (the company is also co-founded by Elon Musk), Play was briefed to evolve Neuralink’s visual language.
Working directly with Neuralink’s co-founder and president Max Hodak, Play’s Casey Martin describes the brief as exploring the strong vision Hodak had for the brand’s development, providing Play’s team with a book of inspiration, The Principles of Neural Science. "We arrived at what ultimately became the brief: design a brand that’s routed in traditional science, while still pointing towards the unlimited possibilities of their product,” explains Martin, the agency’s founder and creative director.
Building on this approach, Neuralink’s visual language is far from the high-tech and flashy graphics one might expect for a company of this ilk. Opting instead for an illustrative approach rooted in a traditional and science-based style, the resulting identity is a mature balance of futuristic and approachable. “Ultimately our goal was to find a balance between traditional science textbooks and the seemingly limitless possibilities of the Link,” adds Martin. Heading back into Hodak’s recommendation of The Principles of Neural Science also influenced this approach, as a title “full of really awesome graphs, infographics, other graphics, optical illusions,” continues the creative director. “We printed them all out, pinned them up on a wall, and referred back throughout the process. The company is routed in science, the brand needed to be too.”
The colour palette applied to compliment this approach is a calm and muted selection, presented in a block layout system that is purposefully “super simple”. Each of the colours chosen are selected and designed with the user experience in mind, making it “easy to delineate between possible paths of navigation within the website,” Martin points out. “Pretty much every combination of colours possible was explored. We found this by balancing a more muted, limited palette with little pops of the spectrum.”
A scientific influence can also be seen in Play’s selected typefaces, choosing Tiempos for its editorial style, and a feeling that it “complemented the vision of nodding to an old science text book,” explains Martin. This is paired with Untitled Sans – chosen for feeling familiar and fresh – and DIN, selected to create contrast and its ability to be “a great workhouse for elements like sub-heads, and smaller bits like the Nav and buttons.”
Subsequently Play have created a visual language which translates this dense subject into one that is accessible, all through thoughtful design consideration.
About the Author
Lucy (she/her) joined It’s Nice That as a staff writer in July 2016 after graduating from Chelsea College of Art. In January 2019 she was made deputy editor and in November 2021, became a senior editor predominantly working on It’s Nice That's partnerships. Feel free to get in contact with Lucy about creative projects for the site or potential partnerships.