Christoph Fahle
June 4, 2012

Member of the week: Jay Cousins

Jay Cousins​ is one of the co-founders in Open Design city. He studied Industrial Design Innovation at Sheffield Hallam University. He is interested in empowerment. Methods, processes and objects that enable people to meet their own needs. To help themselves. He is also interested in creating a life for himself that is sustainable without sacrifice - Minimal Footprint Hedonism (courtesy of Christophe Vaillant). He's been in Open Design city since it's birth, so he's been in betahaus since 1st April 2010.

You are from South England. What made you decide to come to Berlin?

I’d closed down my old business, I didn’t know what I was doing with my life and a friend offered their couch. I thought why not. I never looked back, Berlin is a place for explorers, for creatives and people exploring the edges of possibility. It’s fascinating, exciting and laden with potential. Berlin is one of the last Bohemias, and I hope it remains so. Berlin gives me hope for the world.

What are you doing exactly? 

Good Question - I’ve taken to describing myself as an enabler of interesting projects. I’m motivated by prototyping new forms of collaboration and new forms of living. This year I resolved only to work on projects that make sense, for me this means it has to be emotionally, economically, socially and environmentally meaningful. Presently I’m Chaordinating a MakerLab on Human Rights - an autonomous event where people are encouraged to explore, and share their ideas on Human Rights through making, and action.

You are based in Open design city; in betahaus. How do you like working in a co-working space – particularly Open Design City?

I thrive in collaborative spaces, ODC/ betahaus is a bridging space that allows for people of very different backgrounds to feel comfortable - from suits to hackers. I love the mix, it creates opportunities that wouldn’t otherwise arise.

Could you tell us more about the Human Rights MakerLab and about the vision behind the event? 

A symbol for Human Rights was crowd sourced last year, we want to create the opportunity for people to attach meaning to this symbol, and to explore what Human Rights means to them through action and participation. The MakerLab is created by those who attend it, and who build it together. We create an event frame, where anyone who is interested to create an action or discussion within the frame of Human Rights is free to do so. People can even spontaneously participate - creating and action or workshop at the event, as well as attending and participating in the actions of others.

Right now the Human Rights MakerLab developing the infrastructure and approach for the event DMY (International design festival Berlin). How did you come in touch with the DMY, and do you have any expectations about the DMY?

The first MakerLab was born at DMY, so it’s exciting to be back in the space. The first MakerLab gave birth to the Open Design City, so our fates our intertwined. I’m looking forward to the event, and to see what people create with the opportunity - it’s always fascinating to see what grows out of simple seeds of permission to engage, and the chance to meet and work with others.

What is the aim of  the Human Rights Maker Lab? Do you have any challenges in the future for The Human Rights Maker Lab?

The aim of the Human Rights MakerLab is to create a space for exploration of the topic, in order that solutions and ideas can occur, and existing successes can be shared.Personally I would like to see the lab continue in other countries. For me I would like to see the Lab develop, share and curate products, actions and behaviours which can be replicated and adopted to empower the Human Rights of everyone. Many of the rights and

human rights logo

freedoms which we take for granted are under threat, and there are others which we simply do not enjoy. We will become more aware of the absence of rights as the resources we require become harder to find or more expensive. I hope the Lab can demonstrate to people what they are capable of, and also raise questions as to what Human Rights means, and why it is relevant to our lives.I’m particularly excited by the prospect of a device that would contain all the information necessary for citizens of the world to create their own structures of empowerment - from social behaviours and strategies to combat oppression to knowledge of DIY medicine, farming tech, energy generation...this would act as a bootstrapped and slightly slower internet, connecting villages and cities with information relevant to improving lives and ensuring rights. The really exciting thing is - we can already see how it will work - we will begin prototyping in the lab.

What kind of advice would you give to young designers or explores looking to become successful these days?

First define your terms of success - note these are your terms not those of your parents or peer group. For me it’s the freedom to create in my own way, for you it may be different. Old models and business paradigms are failing, the future of everything lies in telling new stories. I travelled to old route, it left me miserable. Define what you want from the world, and what you want to offer. Communicate it clearly and encourage others to join you, allow for them to find their benefit from collaboration. Begin it - don’t seek perfection, just start to do something. Above all make your work meaningful and joyful.

Want to work with us? Follow this link to become a part of the community!

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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