Christoph Fahle
September 3, 2012

Farhad Payar - Transparency for Iran

Farhad Payar is a freelance journalist and documentary filmmaker with a wealth of experience in a wide range of industries. Born and raised in Iran he came to Berlin to study Mechanical Engineering and Political Science during the 1980s. He then took on a multitude of jobs working as a taxi-driver and a social worker among other professions.

Currently he is working as an actor, filmmaker, theatre director and journalist based in Berlin. More recently, he has been working on a project called “Transparency for Iran”, an online news resource designed to provide a broader perspective on current events in Iran and heighten the German public’s awareness of these issues. The goal is to support human rights and press freedom, through holistic understanding of Iranian internal affairs and local knowledge.

Interview by: Lisa Hillers

How does your personal background and previous experience influence your work for TFI?

I like to think that every new experience opens a door in a person’s consciousness. It allows you to look at certain phenomena in a different way, and sometimes gives you a more profound understanding of things. Regarding my journalistic work at TFI, the little political work that i did back in the day, really helps me research and select the subjects and themes for our articles.

Do you have any particular subjects that attract your interest more than the others?

I am very interested in cultural matters. In Iran, the line between culture and politics is very difficult to define as every cultural action is made political by the government. Because the government attempts to control everything, cultural and social activities automatically become political issues. Basically, I am interested in what influences people culturally, i want to get to know their own perspectives, thoughts and ideas on all kinds of different social issues.

Do you feel that issues in Iran are given sufficient coverage in the German media ?

There is a lot of information about Iran in the media, though unfortunately the scope is relatively limited. There is so much going on in the world that it is inevitable that important stories from each country are overlooked. That’s what we are here for. However we are not looking to replace the German media, more to complement it through offering alternative points of view. For example, a meeting of the Arab states can be perceived in a certain way in Germany and perceived differently in Iran. TFI tries to offer this Iranian perspective, too.

On your website, it says that “every culture is like a text that is interpreted differently by everyone that attempts to read it.” Can you elaborate on this?

Just like narratives, societies convey their own meaning. Our team of journalists local knowledge and language skills enable them to fully explore all background information available, and thereby offers the reader a whole new perspective on the subject matter. The German author, Ingeborg Drewitz had a profound impact on my life, at a memorial I once heard someone describe her main quality as “seeing with the eyes of others and hearing with the ears of others.” This has become my personal life motto and it also remains at the core of the TFI philosophy.

How important is social media for social movement in Iran?

In countries without free speech and a free media, social media is enormously important. In Iran,the TV has turned into a propaganda-machine, it functions solely as a disseminator of pro-government views and religious motifs. So if you are looking to be entertained, you have to have satelite television. For lots of young people the internet is a gateway to information, they download a series or listen to their favourite band´s new album online. It is also an important outlet for free speech, Iranian people are very active in cyberspace.  Persian was actually voted one of the most used languages in the internet, recently.

Why did you choose to work at betahaus?

Our treasurer, Shamin Rafat used to have his office here and suggested we join. He spoke very highly about betahaus. So far, we are very happy to be here.

Thank you very much for this interview!

Claudius: Design is the core of what we do and what we’re all passionate about, but hardly our only focus. Design, at LAUDO, stands more for designing a whole strategy, often very close connected with marketing. We’re developing websites and apps for our clients, but also help them reach their target audience through SEO, Google ranking developing newsletter systems, print brochures etc.

Claudius: A lot of other companies are seeing themselves as a service provider and don’t really question what their client wants and why. We pay very close attention if the work we provide for a client is in line with our personal values and vision. It’s not just delivering a product to the client, getting the paycheck and leaving, but also building relationships with clients and collaborating. Because they are often our doors to new opportunities

We see LAUDO as an airport, where the clients are our gates to new guests, new perspectives and new potential clients. It happens all the time that whoever we’re working for, from there we get a new project, which wasn’t planned before. So we open up a new gate. That’s how we were able to grow and why good connection with our clients is so crucial for us.’

‘’We see LAUDO as an airport, where the clients are our gates to new guests, new perspectives and new potential clients. It happens all the time that whoever we’re working for, from there we get a new project, which wasn’t planned before. So we open up a new gate. That’s how we were able to grow and why good connection with our clients is so crucial for us.’’
Photos by Lea GK

Orietta: I think one thing that makes us stand out on the market and our number one strength is the team. We’re a small team and we all look in the same direction and have the same approach and vision. That makes the communication go smoothly.

Joey: Another thing is that we have a very hands-on approach. We are the guys, who say: ‘’Okay, let’s do it’’. That’s our culture.

Orietta: When we started looking for a place I was already involved in the betahaus community. Working from previous betahaus locations and attending the community events, I already knew a lot of people in the 'haus ...

Joey: Yes, I remember on the first day we came to betahaus Orietta was like ‘’Oh, hey! Hi! Hey, how are you doing? Hi!'' giving high-fives to everybody and we were like: What is going on, why does she know everybody?!

Orietta: Well, the vibe in betahaus is just super easy going. You directly feel that you can meet people easily. If you go to the kitchen for example and just ask ''Hey how are you, what are you working on?''. We made many new contacts too.

Claudius: What makes it nice here is that people are enjoying being here and working on their projects.

Photos by Lea GK

Claudius: The truth is, we could probably afford an office for the same price, but that would put us between these four walls, which put you into a box, much harder to exit and to connect with new people. We went for a Team Desk because here we have so much more space and everything seems much more connected. You can easily meet people.

Orietta: And it’s just so spacious here. We have this super nice garden.

Claudius: I like being focused on my work but I also like if someone disturbs me from time to time. It helps when the door opens. In an office we would work in a whole different way. Here Gillord (Coworking Manager) is coming in everyday, giving me a hug, telling me about his workout .. that’s the main reason - the personal connection.

The day in betahaus starts with a hug and ends with a hug. The time in between is pretty much spent on doing what you love.
Photos by Lea GK


After you’ve taken care of your paperwork and you’ve signed up both in Bürger- and Finanzamt, you are all set up to start working. One of the best ways to get integrated into the city fast, meet like-minded people, and even find clients is by working from a coworking space. There are tons of benefits for freelancers and luckily Berlin has a lot to offer in this way. A coworking space is a physically collaborative shared workspace, which brings all kinds of creatives and entrepreneurs together. It’s a perfect place for startups, freelancers, digital nomads and even corporates searching for innovation. And it’s the biggest advantage towards the typical office space is that it pushes a collaborative exchange between its members and facilitates the creative process and networking.

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