2018 Design Award for Office Design: Fender by Rapt Studio

Approaching the design for the offices of a brand with a long-standing history comes with its own unique and potentially dangerous set of pitfalls. “It would have been easy for us to kind of lean on the history of Fender. We could throw up a couple of pictures of Jimi Hendrix on the wall, have the place be a museum to the history of Fender and call it a day,” says David Galullo, design principal and CEO of Rapt Studio, on the challenges of designing the new Los Angeles-based offices of Fender Guitars.

The revered guitar maker, which recently moved its corporate offices back to California after many years in Phoenix, was interested in creating a space that was part workshop, part recording studio and part design lab. Rapt Studio nimbly navigated away from the expected, creating a two-story office that spoke to the future of the company as much as to its past.

 

Sleek contours, rich materials and finely tuned hardware evoke the craftsmanship of their handmade instruments. Though there are nods to Fender’s history, they’re handled in a way that relies more on capturing the many memories that music creates—a three-dimensional wall of white-washed guitars, amps and words conjures up concerts and jam sessions; narrow, vividly colored close-ups of iconic musicians shredding their instruments evokes their classic solos—and sets the stage for the next generation. “They’re working on getting their tools into the hands of the kids making music in their bedrooms, learning to express themselves in that pure and powerful way,” says Galullo. “We really tried to weave that into the design.”

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