FUEL, the Hiawatha, Iowa-based design collaborative, recently completed an extensive studio renovation and expansion, recreating its workspace to reflect the group’s Bauhaus-inspired design philosophy that closely integrates form with function.
FUEL had operated out of existing small office spaces in its home near Cedar Rapids since it was founded in 2001. When adjacent space became available in 2007, the firm seized the chance to transform its studio into an environment that would not only provide room for its growing staff but encourage the fiercely original collaborative design approach that has served its growing roster of clients.
“It’s all about the work and the clients — and what the work does for them,” emphasizes lead designer Bill Bollman. Accordingly, FUEL approached its expansion much as it would a design challenge for a client, making sure that every element of the new workspace would further the company’s mission of creative innovation and productivity.
The commercial interior design firm kôr, a FUEL client, was enlisted to help with the project, applying the same purpose-driven design approach through which FUEL had shaped kôr’s award-winning identity. Walls came down, ceilings were raised, and the studio became an expanse of collocated work areas that facilitate the constant collaboration that is the touchstone of FUEL’s approach. Custom-designed lighting hand-crafted by RSA Studios and furniture designed by Izzy and Office Specialty, chosen to enhance the creative process, create a sleek industrial feel.
At 2,600 square feet, the resulting workspace is more than triple FUEL’s original size — a natural outcome of the company’s long-term plan for steady, sustainable growth, according to company founder John Moes. More importantly, it captures and encourages the design philosophy that has infused FUEL’s work for clients across the country. “Now when people walk through the door, they immediately understand who we are,” says Bollman.
Bill Bollman is FUEL’s Creative Director. Before co-founding FUEL in 2001, he worked for Horizon Communications, JW Morton and Basler Design Group. Bill studied Illustration at Hawkeye Tech in Waterloo, Iowa. An expert in the “old ways” of hands-on print production, these skills influence his work in the digital world to this day. His work throughout his career has been featured in international publications including Graphis, How International Design, Communication Arts, and The One Book as well as numerous design annuals and reference books.