Coworking spaces can benefit just about any kind of work, allowing for increased productivity, inspiration, and a sense of community. Unsurprisingly, we are beginning to see more spaces that apply the principles of coworking to a number of different fields that reach beyond traditional office work.
Since September 2011, a former apartment in Neukölln’s trendy Reuterkiez has housed a co-sewing space – Nadelwald (literally, “needle-forest” – the German term for a coniferous forest). This new space offers sewing equipment, patterns, workshops, and other facilities for designers and hobbyists alike to be inspired, create projects, and share their ideas and creations with others. We asked founder Swantje Wendt a few questions about her charming new space.
How did you come up with the concept of co-sewing – the idea of applying the principles of co-working to sewing?
I originally wanted to start a fashion label, specializing in scarves and accessories, and had been searching for a place where I could work on that. Since I couldn’t find a space where I could leave my patterns and materials, I simply created my own space, and began offering it to others.
What kinds of people normally use this space – professional designers, or simply hobbyists?
At the moment, the space is used mostly by people who sew as a hobby and who like to do their own alterations. Only one of our customers is a professional designer who comes here whenever she needs equipment she does not already own.
There seems to be a growing interest in sewing these days, particularly among younger people. Why do you think that is?
I think that, in the case of younger people, sewing and other forms of handiwork can be seen as an alternative to daily work, as many people these days spend most of their time at their computers. They enjoy being able to create something with their hands, something they can be proud of in the end.
You hold a lot of workshops. Do your workshops mainly focus on sewing, or do you branch out into other forms of visual art and handicrafts as well?
Our workshops focus on any skills related to fashion. We offer workshops on different sewing techniques, and even knitting, which is taught by a guest instructor, as knitting is not my area of expertise. I plan to offer a workshop on pattern-making, as that is my specialty.
You have a store here as well. Do people who use this space sell their finished work here?
Yes. It’s part of our concept – you can be inspired by our fashion and pattern books, work on your project and finish it, and finally sell it, all in the same space.
You yourself have worked as a designer, and have done some work for Berlin Fashion Week. Could you tell us a little more about that?
I started out as a tailor, but I felt I wanted to go further in the world of fashion. So I started out working for a Berlin-based high fashion label before working for another, larger-scale label based in Bremen. I found that working for a larger label really limited my ability to be creative – I simply communicated ideas between designers and buyers, and never created anything of my own. When I finally moved back here, I decided to start my own business instead of working for another firm. At first, I wanted to start a label as a designer, but since I was unable to find space to work, I simply created my own, and that’s how Nadelwald was born.