An Uebelevable Day in Stuttgart

The alarm starts it’s beautiful melody, eyes slowly open welcoming the morning light and although it is hard to push yourself out of bed, there is so much to look forward to in the day ahead. Looking out the open hotel window, you can see rain collecting on the rooftops, the spitter spatter of droplets hitting the ceramic rooftops. A cool breeze hits your face and there is a crisp lightness in the air. A perfect morning for our trip to Stuttgart.

Once in Stuttgart, I was given the task of directing us to Büro Uebele. With a few missteps, which I completely blame on the phone not understanding the direction in which I am standing, we were on our 20 minute walk. We arrived at what appeared to be a gated driveway. Claudia buzzed the office and Carolin Himmel, a partner of the studio, met the group outside. She directed us to a small office building with colorful patio furniture sitting outside. The building looked like an enlarged green house with large glass doors, a glass rooftop and growing ideas inside. 

Carolin brought us inside the creative workspace. This studio is a firm believer in printing and testing every element of the work, so what seemed like every project was on display. There were hand cut letters hanging from the ceiling, each one a different typeface, showing potential sign options for the client. Posters were magneted to every surface of the wall behind the workspace — each one showcasing the beauty and understanding of typography that this agency held.

andreas uebele walked in after we had been shown a few of the projects currently being worked upon. He wore a black shirt, a pair of blue jeans and black rimmed glasses. In his arms he carried samples of signage for his team. Much like our day so far, there was a lightness within his movements. Although each one was exactly as planned, he brightened the conversations with his honesty and lightheartedness. 

 uebele scrunched his brow or contorted his mouth, traits that always displayed what he was thinking. He would explain the detail that went into every system that they developed — especially with a focus on scalability. Sitting on the workstation, fresh pretzel in hand, uebele would laugh about timelines, results, or the interesting things that happened during the work. 

“We design with conversation,” uebele casually says as the designers sitting around the ten workstations raise their heads as if non-verbally agreeing with these words of wisdom, from first hand experience. We were invited to each work station to talk with uebele and the designer who then ran us through the projects they were / had been working on. It was the perfect way to showcase the respect that this renowned designer has for his staff.

Finally, we had the opportunity to sit with andreas to ask questions and get to know more about his philosophies. 

“Be honest. Be honest to yourself and be honest to your talents”

With that, our time was up. We said our goodbye, but not before buying a new book, which was 6 years in the making, featuring the studio’s amazing work.

It was time to move to our next stop. Claudia pulled the the papers which marked our itinerary for the rest of the day. Each piece of paper was carefully protected from the elements in a clear acrylic sleeve. Strichpunkt studio was where we were headed.

The front lobby was a large open area which welcomed visitors with words and fantastical photos sprawling the walls. Large illuminated letters spawned the length of the front desk, creating an atmosphere, as Yocelyn phrased it, that was very buzzfeed.

An employee zoomed into the creative office on a scooter while we waited for Eve Thiessies and Thomas Michelbach to come greet us. As we journeyed to a conference room we passed stations with computers and employees hard at work. The studio’s current project bookended the workstations. Type and icons followed us along the walls as we walked past. No information was given as to what we were passing — that was to be saved for later during our tour.

Eve and Thomas sat us down at a large table, Thomas wheeling the chair backwards before he took his seat with us. “Hi Texas” displayed on the TV in stark black against a yellow background. We were given a brief overview of the company founded in 1996 and their focus on three main components: Design, Tech and Research.

This studio focuses mostly on Brand Development and the Brand Experience, which is somewhat of a shift from the books and annual reports that they are known for. But don’t worry, they still create those beautiful printed items for clients. Thomas and Eve walked us through the projects they were working on and how the process works within the office. Strichpunkt helped Audi with a digital brand development which included a plethora of elements, like buttons and links, and the most amazing element is the code is all open source. 

Utilizing the idea of Atomic Design, a process in which you build the smaller components then create larger components utilizing the smaller ones and you just keep building upon this principle, Strichpunkt displayed consistency, clarity and ease of use to the client. And although the work shown was a mix of both digital and traditional, a statement was clearly expressed that “Brand experience is media independent.”

Before we went on a tour of the studio space which included a ping-pong table, kitchen area and tons of creative workspaces, we were able to ask a few questions to our presenters. Simply put, the questions were in regards to what Strichpunkt looks for when hiring. After some careful thought they responded, “it’s not just the tools, it’s what you bring and your mindset. You may not have everything, but as long as you have the correct mindset.”

That was all the time we had left in Stuttgart. Tomorrow we are headed to Berlin, which includes a 6 hour train ride to the city.

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