March 22, 2020

Kinzo Maximizes Space for Publishing House Suhrkamp Verlag’s New Headquarters

A leading European book publisher founded in 1950, Suhrkamp Verlag is a household name in much of Germany. Its literary portfolio includes such international heavyweights as Samuel Beckett and T.S. Eliot. Following a relocation from Frankfurt to Berlin in 2010, how­ever, financial troubles and internal strife left staff languishing for years at temporary headquarters. But eventually the company found a permanent home in a six-story ground-up building by Bundschuh Architekten. At 35,000 square feet, the office is smaller than previous locations, but thanks to ingenious interventions by Kinzo, it not only accommodates the 135 employees but also displays thousands of the imprint’s titles in a way that’s both functional and decorative.

At the headquarters of book publisher Suhrkamp Verlag, a system of custom HPL shelves appears throughout, including in a sitting area with a Rafael Horzon chair, also cus­tom. Photography by Sebastian Dörken.

To make up for the trimmed size, Kinzo co-founder Martin Jacobs maximized space not by using every trick in the book, but by using the books themselves instead. A system of simple white shelving appears floor-to-ceiling throughout the floors. “It’s not IKEA,” Jacobs says. “We really customized it.” As a result, sometimes the bookcases appear in a straight line; at others, they are formed with angles and corners. The latter enables them to partition private and public spaces for the staff, distribute function without rigid corridors, and carve out an equal amount of editor space on each floor. “Our design is basically that of an open office, but, with the height and width of the shelving, employees don’t feel so exposed,” Kinzo co-founder Chris Middleton adds. Meeting rooms, office and sitting areas, and phone booths fall into niches created by the shelves, which “meander in order to fit in more books and help with acoustics,” Jacobs says. All the while, the rows and rows of book jackets add warmth and color to the industrial concrete shell.

On the top floor, hues are more scenic. The event space captures views of some of Berlin’s most famous landmarks, including the 1,200-foot Fernsehturm tower. Inside, however, Kinzo’s shelving system totals 16,000 linear feet.

The shelving system also helps partition office areas. Photography by Sebastian Dörken.
Tham & Videgård pendant fixtures hang in a kitchen, where the concrete shell by Bundschuh Architekten is visible. Photography by Sebastian Dörken.
In the 1,000-square-foot event space, custom pine banquettes surround Färg & Blanche chairs. Photography by Sebastian Dörken.
The client contributed another sitting area’s Eileen Gray table and Le Corbusier chairs. Photography by Sebastian Dörken.
A meeting room features a Susanne Grønlund beanbag, Hans Roericht stools, and a custom table. Photography by Sebastian Dörken.
Carpet throughout is nylon. Photography by Sebastian Dörken.
The book­shelves stand 10 feet high. Photography by Sebastian Dörken.
Re­cessed LEDs zigzag around the shelves, which delineate a phone booth in an office area. Photography by Sebastian Dörken.

Product Sources: Vitra: Side Table (Sit­ting Area, Meeting Room). Zero Top: Pendant Fixtures (Kitchen). E15: Counter Stools. Johanson Design: Chairs (Event Space). Camira: Ban­quette Fabric. Pool: Table (Meeting Room). Wilkhahn: Stools. Lightnet: Custom Pendant Fixtures. Vescom: Wall Covering (Booth). Lanisor: Acoustic Board. Throughout: Soft­line: Ottomans, Beanbag. Kvadrat: Fabric. Forbo: Carpet. Lightnet G: Lighting Consul­tant. Gärtner Inter­nationale Möbel Für Büro Und Wohnen: Fur­niture Supplier. Raumeffekt Die Möbelmanufaktur: Woodwork.

Up next: Kinzo Architekten Thinks Like a Startup for AmorePacific Headquarters

> See more from the March 2020 issue of Interior Design

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