We – Karim El-Ishmawi, Martin Jacobs, Chris Middleton and our team – are Kinzo. In 2005 we established our architectural office in Berlin and have been working with international companies on the cutting edge of interior architecture and design ever since. The foundations of our work are: providing our clients with the best consultation, a precise analysis of every project and the joint development of strategies. A holistic design approach and our support throughout all design and constructional phases round off our company philosophy, which is to always provide individual and sustainable solutions.
Where other designers like to get out their sketchpads, we start by taking a big step back. A precise and comprehensive analysis of our clients forms the basis of each of our projects. And teamwork plays a significant role: new strategies and processes are developed and discussed in close cooperation with our clients.
In the design we pursue a holistic approach that takes on the unique challenges of the projects. From interior spaces to product development: for us there’s no such thing as a standard solution. And our curiosity, our joy in experimenting, and our desire for innovation take care of that.
We want to create one-off designs and values that sustainably influence processes and improve the life and working methods of our clients. We firmly believe that in order to achieve an optimum result, you have to supervise a project from A to Z. From the analysis to the construction management. After all, a good, clever solution knows no compromise.
A giant leap for Munich
Berlin and Munich are almost the same - we both have a TV tower and …errr … Ah yes, Kinzo! From now on we officially speak Bavarian too – in our new Munich office. That’s one small step for Kinzo, one giant leap for Munich!
Berlin in a
nut concrete shell
The Berlin fashion e-commerce company Zalando opens its headquarters. We worked closely with architects HENN to develop a building from the inside out. This is made evident through elements such as the vast atrium, and numerous ‘living rooms’, which capture the spirit of iconic Berlin locations (check our Instagram posts from 2019!).
Weaving into South Korea
Going even further East, we arrive in South Korea for the headquarters of cosmetic giant AmorePacific. Occupying the top floor of a building by David Chipperfield Architects we were commissioned for the interior design. The design successfully weaves together the cooperate identity, trademark minimalism of Chipperfield and urban chic, whilst maintaining an atelier feel for in-house start-ups, with raw materials and bold colors.
KINZO goes east
Who does the Kyrgyz Museum call when it needs help: Kinzo! The socialist building from 1986 bears astonishing similarities to the Palace of the Republic, which incidentally stood on KINZO’s home turf, and we also held an exhibition in it shortly before its demolition. But getting back to the Kyrgyz, may its national treasures shine again!
Another move – and coincidentally to another former bank with a secret vault (the perfect backdrop for our coworker headshots). Rudi-Dutschke-Straße not only provides us with ample room for the growing Kinzo family, but also enough space to become a working Test-lab to prototype our design proposals.
10 years of Kinzo/anniversary celebration
Kinzo can look back on an incredible few years. 10 to be precise! Who would have thought that our friendship, great teamwork and the fun we have would have endured so long. We have seized every project that has come our way with both hands and take great pleasure in our work. And we also have our brilliant team to thank for that – thank you very much!
Visit to the SoundCloud office in New York
“These streets will make you feel brand new. Big lights will inspire you!” The time has come: the next SoundCloud office, this time in the Big Apple, is entering into the all-important planning phase and not only are we on the team again – we also flew over for a look.
Fjord opening party
The Fjordians are not just on the same wavelength as us, they’re also great party hosts. To celebrate the opening of their new office in the Prenzlauer Berg district of Berlin, they held a space-themed party – cosmic dancing included!
Research trip to Chicago
America’s biggest interiors fair in the largest building in the world – or at least it was when it opened in 1930. The building alone, which had its own zip code, is definitely worth a visit. People are known to have got lost inside it, never to be seen again. That didn’t happen to us though, quite the opposite in fact. We were able to get a fantastic overview of the new product visions on show!
Christmas party in the new office
The last party of 2014 wasn’t just a time for us to reflect on the exciting and turbulent past months, but was also the perfect way to herald in 2015, which we were all looking forward to with great anticipation. Maybe that’s also why the Christmas trees were upside down?!
Office outing to Vienna / Photo shoot of Erste Campus show-floor
Schnitzel, schnapps and a boat cruise: This year’s office outing took us to the capital of Austria and included everything you’d expect from beautiful Vienna. And the entire Kinzo team stepped in as extras for the photo shoot for our Erste Bank project – directed by our favorite photographer Werner Huthmacher.
Opening of SoundCloud headquarters with the Google CEO and the former mayor of Berlin Klaus Wowereit
“All this makes so much sense!” said the Google chairman Eric Schmidt at the opening of the SoundCloud headquarters, hardly able to contain his delight as he strolled around the new home of the Berlin start-up for the first time. We also agree that it makes a lot of sense – and are extremely proud.
SoundCloud photo shoot
One of our favourite traditions is that every now and again, once a project is completed all of the team members gather round for a photo shoot. As such get-togethers usually end up spiralling out of control and turning into little office parties here at Kinzo, the photos, even if they’re taken by Werner Huthmacher, are almost just an added bonus.
Building work and move to our new office
After some brief renovation work with the fantastic support of our architect friend Simone Skiba we were able to move into our new office on Leipziger Strasse. It feels a little like a city within the city. And the former bank even has a vault for us to store our best-kept secrets!
Last summer party on the terrace of our office on Karl-Liebknecht-Strasse
The legendary and great-tasting Kinzo Cooler wasn’t the only thing flowing at our summer party in 2013 on the terrace of our office on Karl-Liebknecht-Strasse: there were also plenty of tears because this was our last party to be held there. Goodbye, Alexanderplatz! We’re really going to miss you.
CEBit trade fair in 2010
What do Angela Merkel, the Spanish Prime Minister Zapatero and Captain Future all have in common? Until now not very much, but we brought them together for the CeBIT opening show. In 3D! We’ve been responsible for the stage design of the annual event since 2008. An unparalleled experience, also because in 3D the Merkel diamond (Angela Merkel’s famous hand gesture) finally revealed its true significance.
Rebuilding the Vandura car
This project cost us six years of planning and rebuilding: the first time we stripped the old Vandura by GMC down to its chassis, we had no idea that this car would demand so much of us. But the results are pretty impressive, if we may say so ourselves. Not to mention the cool built-in disco lights!
RedDot Design Award winner
Our first award! We won the 2008 reddot design award in the category “Office Furniture” for the 202 double desk from the Kinzo Air series, triumphing over 3000 submissions from all over the world. Its spacy design offers you the ultimate lunar experience from the comfort of your office.
Opening of the Lumen Bar in Chicago
It wasn’t really surprising that the first project we would work on in the USA would be a bar. And not just any old bar but one in a former meat processing plant in Chicago’s Fulton Market, the old meatpacking district. Awaiting the visitors inside are modular seating systems designed by Kinzo and the best drinks in the city – but that’s not really surprising either.
Tradeshow stand for Beate Uhse
Table dancing, taxi interiors and Beate Uhse TV. From 2006 to 2008 we came up with the concept for the Venus tradeshow stand of the pay-tv channel as a modern interpretation of the erotic industry: customer meetings took place on white oversized loungers and the dancing models presented themselves on an abstract stage. If that’s not sexy, then we don’t know what is!
Captain Future opening gala
Yes, we hereby confess to being fans of the eighties science-fiction hero! So it’s no wonder that we wanted to honour Captain Future when we were commissioned with arranging the opening party of the new office space of Axel Springer Digital TV. After all, the brief was to save global alliances and provide a better future for all!
Yes, we can say we shot Paul van Dyk up to the moon. At least during Popkomm in the years 2004 and 2005. Due to its retro-futuristic appearance, our white tradeshow stand for the internet radio station of the famous Berlin DJ and producer was designed to look like a moon station. Unfortunately it was withdrawn from operation in 2006.
Paul van Dyk tradeshow stand
Adler Apotheke (pharmacy)
From a club to a pharmacy. Our very first interior project somehow makes sense from a narrative perspective. Also because it was for a traditional company that was looking for a creative reinterpretation. And we built it ourselves.
Founding of our company and the move into our first office
From 2002 we went back to our roots and, parallel to the club, also founded a community of architects. Our first office and the address Karl-Liebknecht-Strasse 13 would be our home for many years. The very first interior concept is somewhat reminiscent of Mad Men, but our penchant for off-the-wall ideas was already apparent here.
The first Kinzo club was opened on 1st May 1999! And we couldn’t have picked a better date on which to open a club named after a tool manufacturer and which was built by our own hands, using original Kinzo tools. Admittedly, what followed in the years to come had more to do with pleasure than with work. But it also laid the foundations for our later achievements!
For some reason, our whole story started with a boat: when we were students we bought a sleek, but also slightly dilapidated motorboat and wanted to repair it. But we needed a delta sander. And when we found ourselves spoilt for choice at the DIY store, our eyes were instantly drawn to the logo of Dutch brand Kinzo. It was, after all, the nicest looking one of them all! And yes, we still have the sander today.