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Creative variety since 1997

On April Fools’ Day 1997, two friends opened a small design firm. Since then, the letter Q has become widely known for creative communication design. A fragmentary history …

On April Fools’ Day 1997, two friends opened a small design firm. Since then, the letter Q has become widely known for creative communication design. A fragmentary history …


Because their last names are very complicated, Thilo von Debschitz and Laurenz Nielbock name their agency after James Bond’s assistant. That’s how their understand their role: resolving challenges through creativity to make clients successful. (The names of the founders are still misspelled often.) Q starts off in a mansion Neuberg 14, Wiesbaden. The landlords, Mr. and Mrs. Luetkens, are still good Q friends today. First award from the Art Directors’ Club, category: offspring. Many more awards follow.


Tanja Hilpert joins Q, later marries, and continues today on the Q team, as Tanja Nitzke.

We receive support from our first interns: Marion Birner, Sascha Kraus, and Andreas Wolf. Over the years, many more interns join the firm. Their stories and pathways are available at Q VADIS?.

The fiscal authority in Wiesbaden calculates an income of 28 million Deutsche Mark for Laurenz Nielbock and asks for taxes of 4.2 million Deutsche Mark. Amazing good fortune! But it was all due to a programming error in the authority’s computer.


Marcel Kummerer joins Q, eventually marries, and is still a member of Team Q, as Marcel Gutsmann.

Matthias Frey starts at Q as a freelancer. He moves to Berlin and runs a small Q office in the German capital. In 2006, Matthias returns to Wiesbaden – and is still with us.

Our German client Lido, a Lufthansa subsidiary, provides important data for pilots, including detailed weather information. The company asks us to create an advertisement for international audiences. We suggest a visual idea: a cockpit that displays a weatherfrog in a glass case. (The frog climbs a small ladder, as weather conditions change.) Everybody at Lido and Q loves the idea! But few hours before the elaborate photo shoot with a real frog, the concept is cancelled, when we learn: The myth of the weatherfrog is unknown outside Germany.


Q moves from Neuberg to the Sonnenberger Strasse.

Sabine Hess joins the firm, later marries, and is still with us, as Sabine Merck. 

Ute Dersch joins Q, but later moves to Northern Hesse to be with her life partner.

The smallest agency network in the world emerges: An international design magazine showcases our artwork – and the artwork of a a design studio in the US with the same name – Q. We consider whether we should sue the Americans or become friends. We decide for the second option. We remain close friends with Christine, Tom, Jeff, Todd, and their team after collaborating on various transatlantic projects, visiting each other frequently, and exchanging staff to broaden our horizons.


The millennium annual report of the Nassauische Sparkasse is entitled “Turning of Times”. Time scientist Professor Dr. Geissler creates a lecture that is included in the report. To save readers’ time and enable them to listen to the report anywhere, we record the text as an audio book. The speaker is legendary actor Claus Biederstaedt, whose voice is  featured in German versions of Detective Rockford (James Garner) and Columbo (Peter Falk). Instead of an autograph, we ask him for an audiograph:


While visiting Basel, Switzerland, Thilo von Debschitz encounters a poster for a play presented by the Basler Vorstadttheater: “Office Q”. The play tells an absurd and amusing story about a department that has been forgotten in a wave of dismissals and keeps itself busy with senseless activites. Unfortunately, the play is no longer part of the Vorstadttheater’s program. But by coincidence, “Büro Q” is performed at the Maifestspiele Wiesbaden some months later! We purchase more than 100 tickets and invite clients and friends to an exclusive matinée in the Staatstheater Wiesbaden.


Michael Kühnel and Christoph Dahinten join our team. Like Ute, Michael leaves after a couple of years to join his partner in Northern Hesse. Christoph starts a family in Vellmar and becomes self-employed.

First Red Dot Communication Award for Q.

Burglars break into Q’s studio.


For our annual retreat, we rent the outdoor pool in the City of Schlangenbad. When the last guest leaves after the official opening hours, the large sunbathing area and the big thermal swimming pool is ours alone! Then the temperature drops. In bitter cold rain, we stand neck-deep without moving in the warm water. The pool attendant delivers hot chocolate instead of cocktails.

For paper manufacturer Arjowiggins, we create an elaborate sample and inspiration book, entitled Designers’ Friend. For its cover, we choose an illustration of a bull terrier. The client decides this is too aggressive. The Q team transforms the animal into a cute dachshund.


A large corporation commissions us to develop a website and poster for an annual art exhibition. The website design has the client jumping up and down with enthusiastic approval. But he rejects all our poster layouts. He says that we seem to be very talented in designing electronic media, but we are obviously not capable to create printed material. (Although we have received many awards.) We are sad because the client is not satisfied. We’re thinking that we did great work and can not understand the rejection. But we agree to accept a small fee, and the client disappears. Many weeks later, we see the first posters in the Wiesbaden railway station – with our design!

First iF Communication Design Award for Q.


The government of the State of Hesse declares Q as “Company of the Month”.

A driver underestimates the width of his vehicle and breaks the exterior rearview mirror of a parked car that belongs to Q managing director Thilo von Debschitz. The parties exchange business cards. After looking at Thilo’s card, the rueful traffic offender asks: “What is your profession?”  – “In our agency, we create brands, design information, find solutions for printed and electronic communication.” – “Then, you are my man!” And through a broken mirror, a new client relationship is established.


Matthias Frey becomes a Q partner.

A second German creative agency names itself Q. We think that this is not creative, so we politely ask the competitor – who is much bigger than we are – to rename its organization. He does not. We seek a legal solution in court. From the revenues of the judicial decision, we pay for an annual retreat adventure in the Côte d’Azur, and the competitor changes its name.


Alexander Ginter joins the Q team. Eventually, he leaves to accept a job at Martin et Karczinski, a big branding agency in Munich. But in 2008, he and we don’t know about this future opportunity.


Johanna Schmidt joins the Q team. Three and a half years later, we can not match the offer, so she leaves to accept a job in a large bank. But Johanna is always a welcome guest at Q.


We employ our first student of the German dual course of studies: Alexander Schlosser. He works with us while studying in Ravensburg, and because he does so well, he becomes a permanent member of our staff after his graduation. But eventually, we have to let him go to acept jobs in New York and at Google in Zürich. Alexander visits us often and remains a good friend.


At an award ceremony for corporate social responsibility, a “Mr. Schmiedebach from Q” is called to the stage. Clueless, we sit in the audience and look at each other: There is no one in our team with this name. Soon afterwards, the situation is clarified. The speaker was mistaken. Since then, the phantom Schmiedebach has been in our hearts. He is blamed for any major mistakes, and he is the contact person for unsolicited phone calls.

The Calendar of Coincidence – an experimental design project for paper company Antalis – ends up winning more awards than any previous Q project! We receive a European Design Award, A’ Design Award, Gold at the Creativity International Awards, a Merit at HOW Promotion Design Awards and HOW International Design Awards, a silver trophy at the Berliner Type, as well as awards from Red Dot and the Deutschen Designer Club.


Laurenz Nielbock and Thilo von Debschitz are given the Deutscher Bürgerpreis 2012 for their volunteer corporate social engagement.

UFO prevents a plane trip: Our annual retreat to Riga, Latvia, is shortened by one day because plane Lufthansa flight 890 can not take off due to a strike by the Unabhängigen Flugbegleiter Organisation (UFO, Independent Flight Attendant Organisation). We spend the waiting time in museums in Frankfurt.

On the occasion of our 15th anniversary, German’s leading graphic design publishing house, H. Schmidt in Mainz, publishes a printed showcase of our work. The lookbook “QXV” receives a special award.


Massive award shower: For corporate design and a website created for the Ensemble Musikfabrik, Q wins a German Design Award, is ranked number one at the Annual Multimedia Award, and receives an Award from the Deutschen Designer Club. Our calendar „Bauen für Kultur“ for SOKA-BAU receives gold at the Gregor International Calendar Award, silver at the European Design Award, and a nomination for the German Design Award.

Hannah Meinhardt and Hendrik Peermann join the team and are still with us.

A billionaire’s wife from Africa purchases a used German soap machine to establish her own soap-production company in Nigeria. In her vacation domicile in Wiesbaden, she looks for a good agency, finds Q on the internet, and asks if we trust ourselves to do soap-packaging design. We do not have any experience with packaging design, especially not with soap. But she requests concepts, and we create various packaging designs within two days. At the concept presentation, she ends the meeting after the first design, says she has seen enough, and hires us for the packaging project.


At the Gregor International Calendar Award, the jury does not exactly know what to do with our calendar “Welcome to the Future!”. The work presents colorful futuristic visions of Frank R. Paul, the “Grandfather of Science Fiction Art”, from the 1920s and 30s. Thanks to ambitious partners (Komminform, Volkhardt Caruna) we were able to print the illustrations as they were produced 90 years ago – CMY no K. To recognize the astounding result, the jury decides to create a new contest category and gives us its first “Award of Excellence for innovative printing technique”.


Our interns Jihee Hwang (South Korea), Mais Quqa, and Durrah& Al-omar (Jordan) impress us with a cross-cultural, self-initiated project: Their fashion label “Dash’n Clash” combines influences from both the Asian and Arabic worlds. The group wins a first prize at a competition and a professional photo shoot in Hamburg. 

We order pizza. For the first time, the food is delivered in pizza boxes designed by Q, commissioned by the Museum Wiesbaden.

Q becomes 20. Laurenz Nielbock and Thilo von Debschitz are still friends. In the photo from left to right are the four partners at the end of 2017: Matthias Frey, Thilo von Debschitz, Alex Ginter, and Laurenz Nielbock. At the end of the year, Alex moves to Bavaria.


We successfully close our 20th year of existence.

In an agency pitch, our creative concept for the corporate design for the Museum Reinhard Ernst wins. Now our work shapes a quarter of our city: After project-based works for the Nassauischer Kunstverein and the Museum Wiesbaden, after the logo design for the RheinMain CongressCenter, after serving the Hessian State Ballet since its founding, the cultural axis along the Wilhelmstrasse in Wiesbaden is completed by another client.


The year starts with great news: Our logo for the Museum Reinhard Ernst is among the Top Ten at the international “HOW Logo Design Awards” and winner at the 65th competition of the renown Type Directors Club of New York.

We sign a rental contract to move into the Walkmühle, new creative hotspot in the City of Wiesbaden. In July of 2019, we will move into the old building of a brewery which dates back to the 18th century.