Empowering customers


What’s the most important space in a contemporary bank building? The entrance point? The facade? The customer service area? All of these certainly are, but the client, VR Bank Nord eG in Flensburg and architects – dl architekten (Bredstedt) and interior designers / ebene03.büro für räume (Hamburg) – paid particular attention to the design of the customer support spaces. The planners and interior designers of the new headquarters wanted to turn customer support into the type of experience where both parties felt they were on an equal footing. In addition to a specially developed table range, Wilkhahn’s chair models also play a pivotal role – from the ON free-to-move office chair to the ON cantilever chair, the Occo shell-structure chair and the stackable Aline chair to the Sola conference chair.

VR Bank eG’s new brick building in Flensburg blends in pleasantly with the urban backdrop (photo: Wini Büromöbel).

The new VR Bank Nord building in Flensburg, designed and built by dl architekten PartG mbB (Bredstedt) is remarkable for its august brick cube exterior and dynamic interior. At the heart of the building lies the central entrance hall in the shape of a light-flooded atrium which allows the beholder to experience the full, approx. 17-metre height of the building. Impressive, single flights of stairs cover the open space in the middle and lead to spacious galleries all the way round, which provide access to the customer support spaces. Communication islands with upholstered furniture divide up these communal areas and provide opportunities for impromptu chats. The interior features bright surfaces and white wall claddings that deliberately provide a contrast with the dark exterior; organically shaped illuminated rings emphasise the airy feel of the inside of the building.

The light-flooded staircase with its dynamic ring lights deliberately contrasts with the dark outer shell of the building (photos: Wini Büromöbel).

A dedicated furniture concept for customer support spaces

When developing the concept for the bank with its brand values of fairness, transparency and personality, it quickly became clear that the way companies engage with customers is playing an increasingly important role, particularly in a digitalised world. While the bank creates a link to the urban space via the materials used and regional masonry styles, the furniture boosts customer loyalty. Interior designers ebene03.büro für räume (Hamburg), Stücker Büroeinrichtungs GmbH (Kiel) and north German manufacturer Wini developed their own furnishing concept for customer support spaces. The goal was to avoid the outdated approach where people sit opposite one another and to provide a backdrop where both parties felt empowered.

The designers attached particular importance to the design of the customer support areas. A round table and a storage element from Wini with a swivel-mounted screen create the right sort of atmosphere to hold open discussions. Two Wilkhahn ON cantilever chairs ensure that both body and mind are on the ball during customer service sessions and go perfectly with the ON free-to-move office task chair at desks (photo: Wini Büromöbel).

Interaction at a round table

A round table is central to this concept. It allows people to sit together as partners and facilitates the presentation of a range of products and services on a screen so that everyone has an unobstructed view. Wilkhahn’s ON cantilever chairs round off the setting. The flexible, sprung and firmly upholstered chairs boost the dynamic atmosphere. Their formal clarity is a reference to the free-to-move office chairs from the same range, which are also positioned at the desks. These chairs’ patented three-dimensional movement capability doesn’t just allow people to move forwards and sideways, but also to rotate their hips. ON also encourages micro movements that are so important for the metabolism and health. After all, the bank wants both its customers and employees to feel that they are in good hands.

All surfaces and materials used in the customer service areas have been chosen carefully to coordinate with one another. This also applies to the silhouette of Wilkhahn’s ON chair, which, in this case, comes in the form of the three-dimensional office task chair and a cantilever chair (photo: Wini Büromöbel).

An integrated approach

The high regard in which the bank holds its workforce is also reflected in other areas of its North German headquarters. It’s not just the conference rooms that are fitted out with Wilkhahn’s prestigious, leather-covered Sola chairs and elegant Graph tables but its Occo shell-structure chairs in the company restaurant also ensure that feel-good factor is present. And the large seminar room offers both a wonderful view over the rooftops of the Schleswig-Holstein town and elastic comfort while sitting on Wilkhahn’s Aline chairs. The training area also features the space-saving and versatile Timetable table range. The fact that the Volksbanks and Raiffeisenbanks are committed to applying sustainable and socially responsible standards, meant that they wanted to work with manufacturers who adopted similar approaches. And Wilkhahn has been awarded many sustainability prizes – from the 1996 German Environmental Award to the 2018 B.A.U.M. Environmental Award for Wilkhahn’s sustainability management. In this case, it’s not just the health of sedentary employees but also practical aspects that play a role. The Timetable tables are easy to handle and the Aline chairs light as a feather to stack so that facility managers don’t have to worry about their backs either. Perhaps the most important goal of a contemporary cooperative bank is to focus on ensuring that customers and employees can interact and feel that they are on equal terms.

The staff in the bank’s real estate department also benefit from Wilkhahn’s ON three-dimensional, free-to-move office task chair (photo: Wini Büromöbel).
The conference rooms come with Wilkhahn’s classy Sola conference chair and Graph tables (photo: Wini Büromöbel).

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