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Base4 Innovation is a Cambridge-based research and development company working to solve some of the most difficult problems in biotechnology – with a particular focus on DNA sequencing. The team includes scientists and engineers with expertise in physics, nanofabrication, optical detection, molecular biology, microfluidics, chemistry, computer science and electrochemistry. Base4 is regularly granted patents for its research, resulting in a valuable portfolio of high-value technologies.

Scientific patents are typically commemorated with traditional, etched brass plaques. We were asked to design a more contemporary take on these plaques that would serve as a way to document Base4’s research over time and recognise the work of each scientist involved. We created a series of wood cubes with the patent information printed on four sides and a brass numeral inlayed on the top face. The addition of the numerals – each using a different typeface – places the patent cubes in chronological order. Solid walnut was chosen as a more timeless counterpoint to the modern mix of typography used, and because Base4’s work and interests are strongly tied to nature.

The cubes are designed to work as single, stand alone pieces when given to individual scientists, and as a larger collection for the company itself. Able to be stacked and assembled in many different ways, the patent cubes work as a set of building blocks, a subtle reference to Base4’s focus on DNA research.