The office of Lamborghini’s marketing chief, Manfred Fitzgerald, is covered in a nice profile in Fortune magazine. You can see a glimpse of it here, but unfortunately the best photographs of his office are only in the print magazine.
Configured in raw aluminum, polished steel, black stone tile, and white leather, Fitzgerald’s office does in fact look and feel like the embodiment of the current Lambo brand – which is something about German technical know-how and integrity draped in Italian mojo. Audi-owned Lamborghini is the type of Italian car company whose marketing chief would most appropriately be named Manfred, in other words. As is argued in the article, the aesthetic of the space informs the thinking done there which informs the greater brand of the company as embodied by its products. Aside from the use of Eames chairs, the product of folks whose design sensibility sits in a place a world away from that of Lamborghini, it works for me.
It also leads me to believe that imagining what one’s brand-delivery knowledge working space should look like could be a great exercise for getting to the essence of a brand. And perhaps a more effective exercise than coming up with keywords or images borrowed from stock imagery or from other brands. For example, the workspace of the pre-Audi Lamborghini — a chaotic, passion-filled brand — would have been an old Emilian barn with a gas-welding setup in the middle of the room, spanners on a table, sheets of aluminum in a messy pile, and a pyramid of empty lambrusco bottles over in the corner. And some loud opera playing off of vinyl.
Let’s try some more to see if this works. Close your eyes and imagine Apple’s place. You can see it, right? It’s not so different from Lamborghini’s palace, except that people are wearing jeans instead of multi-thousand Euro suits, the floors are white instead of black, and there’s a CNC machine in there carving something interesting out of a block of stainless steel. Puma. What would Puma be like? I see it as an outdoor cafe in a hipster place like Miami, with multiple open-participation shoe creation stations where civilians (filtered by a hipster bouncer, natch) could help design future shoes. Subaru’s brand development place would be a heli-vac capable modular building transported around the world on a seasonal basis, always positioned out in the boonies where there’s a good supply of muck, gravel, snow, and sheep filth. Petter Solberg would have a permanent bunk bed there, always ready to roll, so long as he slept in his nomex coveralls.
These are the types of spaces where brand-creating folks should be sitting, not in some corporate cubicle-ville where the closest cultural wellsprings are a TGI-McFunster’s, a parking lot, and the nearest highway. Living in the brand in order to create the brand. Virtually or literally, it makes sense.