Designing a way to bring alive the mission of University of Michigan Technology Transfer

great lakes shore

The Challenge: How can we bring our mission statement alive for staff and visitors?

After a long process of collaboratively working on a mission statement with their entire staff, University of Michigan Technology Transfer wanted the mission to become an inspiring and active part of their organizational culture, not wilt in a binder!

They hired Invisible Engines to create a way to make this happen.

University of Michigan Technology Transfer
Ann Arbor, Michigan



We visited the Technology Transfer office to help discover a space that we could work with. We measured, took notes and asked questions.

We got to sketching and discovered that while the mission statement was full of powerful and inspiring words, it was also quite lengthy. It had the potential to overwhelm a reader with a sea of words.

An idea emerged: what if we created a way to physically interact with the language? We imagined a system of painted wooden blocks, with the conceptual words on one side and the explanations of why that concept was important on the other. Staff and visitors could move the words around, hold them in their hands and literally “feel” a connection to the mission.


We designed a solution that was on brand with the University of Michigan. The client had the university paint the wall a dark navy. We sourced the shelves and began the production of the blocks. Each block was created from a piece of 2 x 4 wood, with a vinyl cut word on the  face, and a  laser engraved statement on the back.