Round about 1,700 adidas designers, developers, scientists and marketing strategists have moved into a new working environment at the corporation’s headquarters in Herzogenaurach, a building distinguished by an exterior and an interior which strike new paths – literally: glass walkways cross the inner courtyard, intertwining like the laces of a sports shoe. The Berlin Design office KINZO won the idea competition for a functionally optimized and modular furniture system tendered by adidas and, in addition, translated kadawittfeldarchitektur’s (Aachen) communicative architectural concept into a custom-made furniture and interior design:
“WORKOUT” is the working title of the concept which is destined to open up new realms of creativity and possibilities for team play. To suit this purpose KINZO developed a module system consisting of 46 flexible elements which can be put together in innumerable ways to establish team-oriented rooms, zones and workspaces. The “Teamplayer” – a multi-functional room module with conical sides – serves as the arrangement’s centerpiece. Similar to an open frame, the Teamplayer can be equipped and used in various ways: as a support for desktops or as a clothes rack for lockable containers and magnetic punched-plate walls which offer ample space for hanging up balls, shoes and assorted accessories. Drafts and photographs can easily be pinned to the walls with magnets.
And characteristic for every team effort, no element works entirely on its own – all parts are functional and esthetically designed to work together: furniture that works as a team. Knowing that adidas’ designers, product developers, distribution and marketing strategists work together in teams, we have created a system which can accommodate all the necessary products and working materials, from filing systems to sweatpants or soccer balls,” KINZO designer Chris Middleton (35) explains. “It was important to us to create space which not only enables the adidas staff members to store products neatly and practically within their working environment but also to present them in an attractive way, emphasizing their premium value. The products aren’t simply lying around somewhere. They are given an artistic framework which accents their significance.”
The punch-plate elements are not only functional. They also create an appealing optical effect – seen from a distance they almost appear to be transparent, allowing a “scenic” filtered view of the entire office floor. Experienced close up, however, they seem less transparent and offer the workspace a greater feeling of privacy. Chris Middleton: “The Teamplayer elements resemble brackets that fix and define rooms and spaces. By opting for this very unique spatial concept, adidas was able to do without the intended intermediate walls and organize the office floors in a much more flexible way. By replacing walls with furniture it will even be possible in the future to remodel an entire office without creating a construction site.” The Teamplayers in the central zones can be equipped with additional elements to convert them into storage spaces or “copy cubicles” for copy machines.
KINZO gained notoriety not only for its dynamic, futuristic interiors distinctively developed for companies like Axel Springer and Ernst & Young. The young designer team has also become renowned for their unique stage design at the opening gala of the CeBIT (the annual Hanover Messe – Trade Fair). In their search for a special adidas interior concept, KINZO has come up with a subtle form language whose polygonal surfaces and 8-degree angles were derived from the principles of the building’s construction. This particular angle can be discovered as a creative guideline on nearly every WORKOUT element.
A small angle, a powerful effect: The trapeze-shaped side panels of the 1.43-meter-high Teamplayer pass on a dynamic, rhythmic structure to the open office floor. Middleton: “We don’t chop up the office with storage space blocks. We form the room with a wave-like flow.” When the Teamplayers are placed on top of each other, striking wing-shaped partitions emerge, they give the room a stunning appearance: A team office, which is defined on two sides by Teamplayer elements, evokes the image of a honeycombed “spaceship” – in this way a room within a room is established, transparent and airy but also clearly staked off as the workspace of a particular team. Since every element has two sides, it can be individually equipped by two different teams, creating two separate workspaces, but it also visually connects workspaces in an overall spatial perspective. Seen from the central “corridor” the Teamplayer partitions convey more privacy than a conventional partitioning system arranged perpendicular to the windows. Contrary to a traditional partitioning system, it is possible to fine-tune every workspace with an individual arrangement or additional elements and to limit the “view” if desired.The entire system was especially manufactured for adidas in Germany. KINZO selected the Westphalian furniture manufacturer Planmöbel as their partner in developing and producing the elements: The company’s particular strength lies in their flexibility, being able to adjust quickly, precisely and competently to the customer’s wish to develop special solutions for individual needs.
KINZO has been particularly impressed by adidas’ dedication and commitment towards the design concept. The Senior Manager Office Management of the adidas AG, Marcel Gerlitz, and his team played a significant role in the refinement of ideas and the improvement of specific solutions. This applies equally to their close collaboration with kadawittfeldarchitektur. The German architecture office was not only responsible for designing the building. The Aachen-based architects were also in charge of creating interiors in the lobby, the canteen and the communication zones: At the point where the connecting bridges, the “laces,” open up into the building, there are appealing lounge areas which encourage moments of relaxation and an informal chat. The building as well as the furniture is functionally consistent with the adidas work environment.
Chris Middleton: “kadawittfeldarchitektur tremendously supported our work and intensively discussed the design of all the interior spaces with us to sufficiently organize the workflow within the company. In that way we were able to work together to develop a strong sense of identity for the entire building which doesn’t bear the signature of one single architecture office. The whole design was conceived and realized to promote the identity of the company and the adidas trademark.”
Ulrich Krebs, Project Manager adidas AG: “Kinzo is a young, innovative designer team who have not only convinced us with their striking style of design. We were particularly impressed by their intensive interaction with our staff members’ work environment. The designer team even held workshops in order to refine their concept together with our staff. In addition, the WORKOUT concept doesn’t only solve adidas’ specific functional and communicative demands. It also remarkably enhances the entire interior design of the building. By moving into Laces, our staff experiences a work environment in which the building’s construction and the furniture bond in an extraordinary way.”
More information about KINZO and WORKOUT:
Outside all show, but inside no go: This is what the Berlin Design and Architecture office KINZO thinks about most new office complexes in Europe. Learn more about how KINZO outshined established furniture brands at adidas, and how the custom made WORKOUT interior programme carries individuality and corporate identity into the office: KINZO exclusively for adidas.
Founded in 1998 as a label for film, design, architecture, brand and event projects, KINZO has become internationally established for its unmistakable style and grown to be one of the ambassadors of Berlin design avant-garde. Starting from interior projects for shops, lofts and offices, fairs and exhibitions as well as design for events and film sets, the three architects and founders of the company Karim El-Ishmawi, Chris Middleton and Martin Jacobs have become famous for their distinctive, sport and science-fiction inspired elegance. In 2008, KINZO successfully ventured into product design: Its office furniture programme KINZO AIR was awarded the red dot design award and nominated for the 2009 German State Design Price. KINZO AIR is manufactured and distributed by bau+art, Berlin.
Location: Herzogenaurach, Germany