Illustration system

Our first system for an Asian client, playing globally: a portal where dynamic characters and playful shapes explore endless possibilities.

Alibaba — vimeo
We're excited to introduce our latest project, the Illustration System. The project kicked off by exploring multiple art direction routes, inspired by's Window and Globe branding elements. We embraced outlines, dynamic poses, and the concept of a portal, creating a visual language. Two main challenges have been: (1) Crafting relatable visuals for B2B small businesses that resonate with dynamism without corporate stiffness. (2) Infusing playfulness subtly, using a simple visual treatment with black outlines with hints of orange (and lilac, just for hero content). We created assets with different levels of visual complexity and expression, to match the different UX needs. At the top of this, we developed a few hero content to engage the clients in subscribing or onboarding to the services. At its core, this project features seven animated mobile UI spot illustrations, infusing dynamism and playfulness. Static objects and versatile elements seamlessly integrate, reinforcing visual consistency. We also created a captivating video frame/hero illustration, encapsulating the very essence of's brand identity, as a potential guide for further marketing content.
We realized that the direction was there when we merged the Window, Globe, dynamic characters, and playful objects, forming a portal of connection —'s seamless delivery service. We've also created guidelines, providing a launchpad for's internal team and designers worldwide. Illustration systems are living things; we set the groundwork, but it's exciting to see how others will express concepts.

It’s our first big illustration project for an Asian client, but definitely not the last.
Alibaba — Error 404
Error 404

We were inspired by the two main and iconic elements/shapes that represent the Alibaba core brand, the window, and the globe. We tried to use them as the main shapes that, combined together, can create a magical and stunning experience. The idea is to use them to create a sort of portal of connection among places. Between them things and people can travel and move geographically from one place to the other, conveying one of the most important Alibaba's strengths, the delivery service.

Alibaba — portale
Alibaba — Portale 1
Alibaba — Portale 2
Alibaba — Portale 3
Logistic through portals
Alibaba — Shopping cart
Shopping cart

Guidelines are more than rules; they’re our creative blueprint. With the Illustration System, we’ve not only designed captivating visuals but also provided essential guidelines. These aren’t rigid standards but a foundation, ensuring consistency across’s global reach. These guidelines keep the system logical, assuring that it remains a cohesive and evolving entity. We’re eager to see how others will embrace this visual language, expressing their own unique concepts and ideas, all while maintaining the system’s integrity and coherence. Illustration systems are dynamic, and we’re excited to watch them grow.

Alibaba — Sketches
Character study
Alibaba — Guidelines
Alibaba — hand
Alibaba — Hands

Credits — Creative Direction Ilenia Notarangelo & Cristina Pasquale + Design Lead Sofia Buti + Animation Lead David Cubitt + Illustration Alessandra Marin + Animation Riccardo Chiara + Producer Ani Karamanukyan, Daniel Ceballos & Republic Studios + Portfolio Sound Design Fabrizio Martini + Portfolio Giovanna Crise