Holger Schmidhuber: The secret design metropolis

Take a look at the yearly agency rankings in trade magazines like Page, w&v or Horizont and see where each of the respective offices are located, and one particular city will stand out among the typical creative metropolises like Berlin, Munich, or Hamburg: Wiesbaden.


It took some time before the parties in­­volved recognized the unexpected benefits of the location. Maybe because it isn’t so obvious, the first time you see the upscale, albeit leisurely city, how much creativity all but slumbers behind the neo-classical facades. The usual clichés about the creative field – young, loud, chaotic, fast-paced – are difficult to reconcile in any case with the image of the city of Wiesbaden. But, as mentioned, those are just clichés – the facts tell another story. Namely, exciting design is being created here in Wiesbaden for many years, at­­tracting attention not only in Germany but also all over the world. From the in­­terdisciplinary team of 3deluxe, with its multimedia projects like the Football Globe for the 2003 World Cup, the fu­­tur­­istic interior of the Frankfurter Co­­coon Club or the impressive Leonar­do Glass Cube. Or the web agency Scholz & Volkmer. You only need to take a look at the cus­­tomers to see who’s here to do business: Mercedes-Benz, Samsung, Coca-Cola, ThyssenKrupp, Swarovski … And Die Firma: The online specialists develop uni­­que interactive applications and can boast an exceptional success story.

Like the design agencies listed above, Fuenfwerken was originally a child of the Wies­ba­den University of Applied Scienc­­­es and has stayed true to the city until today. The company also has an office in Ber­lin, in order to be closer to the numerous clients who keep their old or new home there.
But the main office, as ever, is still there at its roots between the Rhine and the Taunus. Fuenfwerken specializes in corporate design, communications and pub­­lishing and is active with customers all across Germany. Including, among others, the Berlin senate: In March 2008, the new marketing campaign for the German ca­­p­­ital will get underway with the motto “be Berlin”. Fuenfwerken has developed a corporate design for this project, which currently advertises the German capital worldwide. A stylized speech balloon, with its arrow pointing inward and outward, is a flexible and multifunctional key visual that stands for an open, dialogue-ready city, its inhabitants and their sharp Berlin tongue.
Fuenfwerken has created a new logo and corporate design for Nürburgring, to sup­­port the legendary racetrack in its new position as a motor sport experience world.
With its core competencies, Fuenfwer­ken works with large clients including Mes­­se Frankfurt, Bayer Schering Phar­ma and the Schott technology company, as well as small businesses like in­­novative wine growers from the region. But be­­sides daily business, the company is also in­­volved, for example, with the Uni­­ver­si­ty of Duisburg-Essen and other partners in the MICC research project (Music – In­­novation – Corporate Culture), run by the German Aerospace Center (Deut­sches Zentrum für Luft- und Raumfahrt). The pro­­ject investigates music as a means of analyzing and exploring business cul­­ture, to see whether these discoveries can be fruitful in the management sector.



In January of 2008, Fuenfwerken launched designCreation e.V. (gestaltBildung e.V.) with its goal of social contribution, where the company transfers its core com­­pe­ten­­cies to students and pupils and strength­­ens them in their creativity. In the first cam­­paign, “unlined” (“unliniert”), around 1,000 sketchbooks with simple creativity exercises were handed out to students in Wiesbaden, Berlin, Hanover and other German cities. The follow-up cam­­paign “Courage” (“Mut”) started in fall 2008, in cooperation with the Hambur­ger as­­sociation “Werte erleben” e.V. (Ex­­pe­rience values), the Hamburg Deich­­tor­hallen and the Hamburg airport. The initiative was directed to 110 young people from twelve schools in the Han­seatic City. The goal of “Cour­age,” be­­sides the promotion of creativity and the communication of design fun­da­men­­tals, was to strengthen social cha­rac­ter and values like courage and self-con­­fidence. The seven- to ninth-graders were given specially designed sketchbooks and realized collaborative artistic projects in workshops. The cre­­ative results were presented in 2009 at a large exhibition in the Ham­burg Deich­torhallen.


But over and above all of these activities, the commitment to the design metropolis of Wiesbaden is of central importance to Fuenfwerken. A first sig­nificant step was and is the “Access All Areas” initiative, which was founded in 2007 together with 3deluxe, Die Firma, Scholz & Volkmer, Michael Eibes De­­sign and other Wiesbaden agencies, as well as the Department of Business Develop­ment (Amt für Wirtschaftsför­derung). With­­in this framework, each spring Wies­­ba­den’s creative businesses present open offices, films, lectures and other activities across the city to show the industry that it’s still bubbling in the heart of the spa city, and prove to regional companies that you don’t need to roam off into the distan­ce in order to sit at the table with top firms.

5w_holgerThe chairman of the board of Fuenfwer­ken Design AG studied painting and com­­mu­­nications design in New York and Wies­­baden. His core competencies are in the fields of strategic brand consulting and the de­­velopment of systematic concepts for design expression and iden­­tity. Schmid­­­huber teaches corporate de­­sign at the Wiesbaden University of Applied Scienc­­es (FH) and vi­­sual communication at the Free Univer­sity of Bozen.