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The Reddot Design Award, the Federal Award for Ecodesign and the German Design Award – These are just a few of the awards received by Mehnert Corporate Design, a Berlin-based full-service agency specializing in communication and product development. The team, centered around founder and owner Prof. Kurt Mehnert and head of office operations Peter Kutz, has time and again demonstrated its ability to turn innovative design ideas into reality.
Written by Marilena Stracke
The story of Mehnert Corporate Design begins in the early ‘90s when Kurt Mehnert was invited to the Anhalt University of Applied Sciences in Dessau in order to assist the university in developing its Department of Integrated Design on the grounds of the historical Bauhaus campus. For Mehnert, proximity to Berlin – where he had studied – represented a return to his roots and proved to be a huge factor in deciding where to base his company – Berlin having long been one of the world’s great creative hotspots.
Since 2008 Prof. Mehnert has taught and conducted research at Folkwang University of the Arts in Essen, where he served as acting president from 2009 to 2017. In 2017 he developed the Industrial Design Institute (IDI) at Zhaoqing University in China, of which he has remained acting president until today. “At the same time, I never stop learning: Teaching in China means sharpening your view of global market observation and the development of the future,” he explains. “In that sense I count myself very lucky to be involved. Or to quote Elon Musk: ‘I could either watch it happen or be a part of it.’”
Design happens everywhere
According to Prof. Mehnert good design is more important than ever due to its medial omnipresence. He sees in design the possibility to change objects, interactions and attitudes using sustainable concepts, thereby creating new spaces for things to develop.
“It’s very important to me personally to not just practise that form of design but also to teach and research it,” he explains. “For Mehnert, practice is and always has been accompanied by the global academic perspectives which only research and science can provide: as a professor of strategy and vision, as dean of the University of Duisburg-Essen and as president of Folkwang University of the Arts. This triangle gives rise to a powerful synergy and serves as my very own personal ‘fuel’.”
This close connection to research ensures that Mehnert Corporate Design continues to think in a future-oriented manner. At Folkwang University of the Arts, Prof. Mehnert recently examined the highly topical subject of future mobility with the project NRWCar. The project centered around the question of how a small urban e-car can be realized in the era of the sharing economy. The presentation was as innovative as the concepts themselves: Thanks to virtual reality, the audience could immerse themselves in the future. The results are documented on Mehnert’s website and in the publication “Electric Vehicles for Tomorrow’s City” (Springer Galber 2016).
Mehnert Corporate Design welcomes every challenge
Mehnert Corporate Design does not work only in Germany, but also takes on a wide variety of international projects. Its client base is varied, ranging from small start-ups to medium-sized companies to large international corporations. Some clients have been entrusting Prof. Mehnert with their projects for almost 20 years. Thanks to its interdisciplinary knowledge and global network, the company’s creative team can easily satisfy the manifold requirements and focal points of its various clients.
The team also offers a wide range of services: For the Berlin-based agency, the design of products, product systems and user interactions goes hand in hand with the design of communication concepts (internal and external), corporate image, and websites and films, as well as orientation systems, cladding and space design.
“We cover quite a wide spectrum, which allows us to apply our interdisciplinary knowledge in the best way possible,” says Peter Kutz, head of office operations. “On the one hand it enables us to walk new paths and on the other, it allows us to make the most of those which already exist. We rely on global networking to meet clients’ needs, which have with time grown more complex and layered, making a holistic approach crucial.”
By offering everything from strategies, concepts and sketches to construction and programming – all from the same source – Mehnert Corporate Design can harness a synergy effect that increases the speed at which a project is realized. Kutz adds: “It’s important to us that our clients are supported from the first idea to its final implementation. We take a clear stance, speak our minds and take seriously our connection to our clients. We always endeavour to take our clients on a journey where team work and participation count. We take a visionary approach to our work, but our feet remain planted firmly on the ground.”
The company is frequently awarded prizes for its projects. One of its biggest successes was winning the German Sustainability Award for its work with Wilo SE, a long-standing partner of Mehnert Corporate Design. In addition to many joint projects, the two companies have worked together to develop a comprehensive set of corporate product design guidelines which emphasize the importance of sustainability for innovative product and communication design.
Thanks to the company’s international outlook and interdisciplinary approach, it has remained the trademark of Mehnert Corporate Design to always build bridges between great visions and precise feasibility – a task which never ceases to be exciting.