Shot for IBM. Agency: Ogilvy & Mather, New-York. Image (c) Christian Stoll.

Shot for BMW-Magazine. Image (c) Christian Stoll.

Shot for BMW-Magazine. Image (c) Christian Stoll.

Shot for DB Schenker. Agency: Scholz & Friends, Berlin. Image (c) Christian Stoll.

Shot for Microsoft. Agency: McCann Erickson, San-Francisco. Image (c) Christian Stoll.

Shot for General Electric. Agency: Atmosphere/BBDO New York. Image (c) Christian Stoll.

Shot for Wired Magazine. Image (c) Christian Stoll.

Shanghai, shot for IBM. Agency: Ogilvy & Mather, New-York. Image (c) Christian Stoll.

Co.Design

The Amazing Infrastructure That Powers IBM, Microsoft, And GE

Christian Stoll captures some of the world’s largest corporations in wide-angle splendor.

As anyone who’s ever owned a copy of The Way Things Work knows, humans are fascinated by images that describe the inner workings of seemingly mundane technologies. Though we may not often question how that Downton Abbey DVD made its way to us, or where that jet engine humming outside the plane window was built, the answers are fascinating and, often, quite beautiful.

Düsseldorf-based photographer Christian Stoll has made a name for himself photographing the hidden infrastructures that power the world’s largest companies. Stoll has worked in the ad world for two decades, compiling a client list of hundreds of mega-brands and capturing a number of images that he describes as “epic.” He’s culled the most remarkable into a series by the same name, which shows us the logistical empires of IBM, DB Schenker, GE, and Microsoft.

Epic describes networks that power the daily lives of millions, but that few humans ever actually see: a honeycomb wall of thousands of shelves where Microsoft’s shipping orders are stacked, the dizzyingly high ceiling of a package-sorting facility at Germany’s leading logistics firm, and the sterile white of a GE assembly line floor. These are companies whose liquid assets and employee rosters often compete with those of whole countries (for example, IBM employs about a quarter of the number of people working for the entire U.S. government).

Stoll’s images capture vast and mind-meltingly valuable landscapes that are hidden in plain sight, housed in unassuming warehouses and suburban data centers all over the world. Check out his website to see more of his work.

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9 Comments

  • Anon

    These are really amazing images. But Howard Stein and others are
    completely right. They are totally fabricated, to be used metaphorically
    in ads. They don't document existing conditions.

    Do you really think Microsoft, which has entire business arms dedicated
    to digital storage technologies, would store shipping orders inside
    cubby holes?

    The Way Things Work was captivating because it explained real things. There is nothing real about these images.

  • Howard Stein

    Stoll's images initially stun, but quickly tire. Unlabeled, without context, they make no sense.
    They are artless advertising images, though, interestingly, are dated, by the best work being done today. The Marc Jacob's perfume bottle also shows Stoll as a not very accomplished artist, or Photoshop user. The gradients in those images are heavy-handed, and show lazy technique. I am surprised Jacobs approved them.

  • junk_trunk

    Artless images huh? Bold statement. 
    And I checked out your work - your graphic design looks like it was made in the late 90's by a student - truly bad. Your illustration's are lame uses of adobe illustrator "convert to shape". And you photography, hahahaha.

  • GBA

    The one with the high wall of cubby holes for packages (for Microsoft, apparently) is clearly fake  -  what are we expected to learn from the other images that are also unlabeled or explained? Lazily written, poorly researched and uninformative.

  • Jtbuckwalter

    These are stunning. I agree with Kathy though, knowing what I'm looking ad would add to the splendor. :)