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Ippolito Fleitz Brings the Rainbow to the Headquarters of Wörwag in Stuttgart, Germany
Interior Design Media
New York, New York, USA
Monica Khemsurov
Date Published: 
Stuggart, Germany, Interior Design, Corporate Headquarters, Aluminim Screens, Transparent Walls
Tapestry Statistics:
2020-09-02 15:16:24
2020-09-02 15:26:03
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Eric Laignel
From the outside, the new headquarters of Wörwag—a maker of industrial paints and coatings based in Stuttgart, Germany—resembles a glowing, elongated Rubik’s Cube. Even if you didn’t know the company specialized in color, one glance at the rainbow-banded building would offer a pretty substantial clue. That, of course, was the goal, and the reason why the manufacturer brought on Interior Design Hall of Fame members Peter Ippolito and Gunther Fleitz and their Ippolito Fleitz Group to design the project. Stuttgart is home to scores of important corporations, including Mercedes-Benz, Porsche, and Bosch. But most of them aren’t household names. Rather, they’re “hidden champions,” as Peter Ippolito puts it, behind-the-scenes yet globally influential B2B enterprises, many working in or adjacent to the automotive sector. While they may be outside the purview of the average consumer, however, these companies still need to stand out within their respective industries, which is where IFG comes in. “We have a saying, ‘Identity is the new facility,’” Ippolito continues. “Workplace design is not only about orga­nizing processes but also about branding. If you don’t translate the company’s DNA into a space, it’s just a bunch of nicely arranged tables.”

Wörwag was keenly aware of that principle. Having constructed a four-story, 38,000-square-foot building wrapped entirely in glass—already a big statement for a medium-size business—the manufacturer sought interiors that channeled its passion for color and commitment to technological innovation. It couThat effort begins in the lobby, the drywall panels of its folded-plate ceiling painted various shades of yellow—“an active color that has a sense of focus and clarity,” Fleitz notes. Behind the reception desk, backlit shelves showcase dozens of brightly painted car parts, bicycle frames, and other bits of machinery that illustrate a wide range of Wörwag coating applications.

nted on Ippolito and Fleitz to use these brand signifiers to broadcast the company’s core values inside and outside the structure’s transparent walls.

Right next to the lobby lies one of the project’s key elements: The company cafeteria, a facility that’s typically hidden away on an upper floor but is here given pride of place, a democratic mingling ground for visitors, management, and factory workers alike. Decked out with violet ceiling panels, neon-blue benches, dark-orange wall tiles, and draperies in a shade of red known to make food look more appetizing, it was conceived to foster unexpected connections. “The idea was, Can I get a finance employee to meet one from production and they learn something from one another?” Fleitz explains. “That’s when innovation happens. It’s a strong statement that the company chooses to put this kind of space front and center.”

Upstairs, on the building’s three office levels, color plays an even larger role. The rainbow effect visible from outside is due primarily to a continuous ribbon of dropped ceilings that encircles each floor, progressing through a gradient of 70 different shades along the way. Comprising textile-covered acoustic panels arranged in a folded plate similar to those in the lobby and cafeteria, each floating ceiling acts like a pitched roof above the open work­stations lining perimeter walls, providing a feeling of privacy and a unique visual identity, “as in, Come find me in lemon-yellow,” Ippolito jokes.

Similar multihued textile-covered panels, some shaped like Wörwag’s signature paint chips, are suspended vertically from the ceiling as moveable dividers between work areas. These elements reflect Ippolito and Fleitz’s theories about workplace culture and how it informs their design decisions: “We always talk about it like an onion,” Ippolito states. “The first layer is, ‘I’m proud to be part of the company.’ The next is, ‘I’m proud to be in the building,’ and then, ‘my department, my team, and my desk.’ We try to enable that sense of belonging on every level.” Even in an open-plan setup, he says, “You have to make people feel special, so they don’t feel like a number.”

While individual workstations and a gradient ceiling mark the perimeter of each floor, the inner areas have a very different vibe. They are devoted to meeting rooms and other collaborative spaces, marked by a palette that’s pr
Organizations Mentioned: (4)
Stuttgart, Germany, Germany
Products, Mobility, Appliances, Auto Parts, Power Tools, Software, Energy, Smart Home, Technology
Ippolito Fleitz Group
Stuttgart, Germany
Architecture, Product Design, Communications
Stuttgart, Germany
Stuttgart, Germany
Products, Liquid Coatings, Powder Coatings, Paint Films