The space inventors

The Stuttgart-based design office Ippolito Fleitz is very successful in designing interiors all around the world - from Hamburg to Uzbekistan
12.12.2012 | 

Successful hunters are judged on the number of sixteen-pointers they have hunted, decorating their walls with stags and other beasts. Successful designers are measured based on nominations and international awards. These hang like trophies in the entrance area to the Ippolito Fleitz design office. While architects, interior designers and product designers generally tinker about in their own discrete areas, the Stuttgart-based company combines the large and small-scale design of interiors under one roof. Within a few short years, this concept has helped what was formerly the small design office of architects Peter Ippolito and Gunter Fleitz to become a global player with around 40 employees from different creative professions who are constantly inventing new spaces.

They started in 1998, directly after finishing college. Originally there were four of them. The first office was called Zipherspaceworks. Since 2002, Fleitz and Ippolito have been working under their own names. "We enjoy the diversity that our work offers us every day", says Peter Ippolito. The target groups and tasks could not be more varied. They range from product design to penthouses, from franchise restaurant chains to luxury restaurants, from dental practises to offices, and from corporate identity to projects in completely different cultural settings. "We have become well known through the high-profile projects. But we also generate a lot of orders by word of mouth - which is ultimately the most successful form of advertising", explains Peter Ippolito.

Creating spatial images and atmosphere

Wienerwald is a kind of German McDonald’s for roast chicken that was once associated with interiors that featured net curtains and ornate oak. The company was given a whole new look in order for its colours and shapes to reflect its new catering and brand concept. The pioneer for German fast food wanted its interior to reflect the fresh mix of ingredients on the plate. "The space is clearly structured. Wood, leather and textiles as well as the choice of colours give a fresh and natural appearance. White and light-grey hues predominate. Gold is used as an accent colour", says Ippolito, explaining the idea behind the design. "The focus is always on realising content in an exciting way, allowing atmospheres to emerge, creating spatial images that follow a dramaturgy."

As a result, dental practises designed by Ippolito Fleitz become spaces that present themselves as a mix of a luxurious private atmosphere and a bespoke art gallery. Fleitz and Ippolito describe themselves as identity architects. "Everything has to be consistent and reflect the identity of the client or brand." This is how Peter Ippolito sums up what the design office aims to achieve. International luxury hotels and resorts are just some of the clients who trust the ideas of the Stuttgart-based designers and their creative team. Other clients include the largest Russian chain of coffee bars as well as the restaurant next door, for example Bella Italia in Stuttgart-West which combines a wine shop with a restaurant.

Spatial communication

After moving to a larger space, the aim was to preserve the special charm of the establishment, which was previously located in a small space that resembled a living room. A traditional wooden floor and classic but colourful kitchen chairs contrast with modern fittings as well as clear lines and muted colours. One of the particularly well-executed design ideas is the numerous mirrors of all different styles and sizes, placed on the ceiling instead of on the walls.

Experts have a term to describe what the Stuttgart-based design office does: "spatial communication’. Alongside other agencies from the Stuttgart Region, the Ippolito Fleitz Group has been one of the top ten interior designers for many years now. In Stuttgart, it has also redesigned Trattoria San Loretta, Mezzogiorno restaurant and MASH club in the Bosch-Areal as well as FouFou bar. This trendy bar has four areas on three levels and its design gives a playful nod to the adjacent red-light district - pink, red, gold, plush and velvet are combined with puristic black and unusual standalone pieces.

Not scared of historical buildings

When the Stuttgart-based office was lucky enough to be commissioned to redesign the canteen for the magazine Der Spiegel’s Hamburg offices, originally designed by iconic designer Verner Panton, the designers did not simply copy the original design, but transported it into a contemporary era in terms of forms and colours - nowadays no-one wants to see as much orange as at end of the 1960s! But we don’t just need a pleasant setting for places where we eat. Offices should also look attractive and make for a better working experience. The new offices of the international engineering office Schlaich Bergermann und Partner from Stuttgart were transformed into an aesthetic world that reflects the precision and technical connotations of the engineering profession, but which thanks to warm materials and communicative zones with different atmospheres becomes a place to feel good.

Three years ago, the ADAC automobile association opened up a new branch at Neckartor in Stuttgart, which Ippolito Fleitz developed using a completely new corporate architecture. The recently reopened town hall in Schorndorf was also a project of the Stuttgart-based identity architects. The exterior of the building is full of history. On the inside, it forms a surprisingly modern centre of the town, with clear lines and the basic colours brown, white and black reflecting the background hues of the historical building.

Journeying through other worlds

The employees of the Stuttgart-based company are often based outside of the region, for example in China and Korea, where Ippolito Fleitz has located a partner on site. "This allows us to have a physical presence and be available at all times for queries", emphasise the managing directors when explaining the benefits of this structure. Websites in the respective local language bridge the initial cultural gap and make it easier for new customers to get an insight into the philosophy of the Stuttgart-based designers.

The managing directors point out that "we have grown steadily". However, Ippolito admits, one milestone in the company’s history was being commissioned to design the huge interior spaces of the International Forum in Uzbekistan. "Not just in terms of the order volume, but also as far as the organisation and logistics were concerned." The people and the materials had to be on site within a period of less than six months. The building, which is reminiscent of a palace, is situated in the centre of Tashkent. The country’s most significant representative building is designed as a platform for state ceremonial events, congresses, conferences and cultural highlights. "We composed the entire interior architecture based on traditional motifs that we interpreted in a new way - our work was very well received and truly opened the door to the huge market of the CIS states", according to Ippolito.

Tackling new projects without any fears

The design idea is the starting point, and it develops from whatever it is that reflects the customer. Nevertheless the design office does nurture its own unmistakeable style. The exciting thing about designing, they say, is not having any fears. "We are curious every single time we start a new project", explains Ippolito.

And what are they working on at the moment? "In Azerbaijan we are currently designing the public areas of a commercial skyscraper as well as a restaurant and a bank." Ippolito Fleitz is developing new working environments for Drees&Sommer in Stuttgart and Procter&Gamble in Frankfurt. In New York, work is currently underway on a first Adidas SLVR store based on the concept that originated in Stuttgart, "and in Stuttgart, the construction trench is slowly being filled in for the Gerber shopping mall, where we were responsible for the interiors and the signposting." We have plenty of work to do.

Closer to home: Ippolito Fleitz designed the Expo Real stand for the Stuttgart Region that won a prize in the communication design award 2011 and was nominated for the Designpreis Deutschland (German Design Award) 2012.