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!
In addition to the betahaus locations, we've formed a close relationship with some of the world's best coworking spaces. With your betahaus membership, you can work from any of our partner spaces for 1 day per month.
Republikken // Copenhagen, Denmark // Vesterbrogade 26, 1620 København V, Denmark
Le Laptop // Paris, France // 6 Rue Arthur Rozier, 75019 Paris, France
utopic_US // Madrid, Spain // Calle de la Colegiata, 9, 28012 Madrid, Spain
Nest 71 // Saravejo, Bosnia & Herzegovina // Milana Preloga 12, Sarajevo 71000, Bosnia & Herzegovina
Toolbox // Milan, Italy // Via Agostino da Montefeltro, 2, 10134 Torino, Italy
Edspace // London, England // Block D, Hackney Community College, Falkirk St, London, UK
Bios // Athens, Greece // Pireos 84, Athina 104 35, Greece
CoWorx // Kristiansand, Norway // Markens Gate 8, 4611 Kristiansand, Norway
CRU – Loja / Cowork // Porto, Portugal // Rua do Rosário 211, 4050-524 Porto, Portugal
SPARK // Mostar, Bosnia & Herzegovina // Bleiburških žrtava, Mostar 88000, Bosnia & Herzegovina
StartUp Armenia Foundation // Yerevan, Armenia // 0019, 1 Marshal Baghramyan Ave, Yerevan 0019, Armenia
Tøyen Startup Village // Oslo, Norway // Hagegata 23, 0653 Oslo, Norway
Smart Coworking // Prague, Czech Republic // Václavské nám. 806/62, 110 00 Nové Město, Czechia
Lighthouse // Tel Aviv, Israel // HaHaroshet 14-16 Ra'anana, Tel Aviv, Isreal
Fueled // New York City, USA // 11, 568 Broadway, FL 11, New York, NY 10012, United States **Maximum 3 Days
Capital Factory // Austin, USA // 701 Brazos St, Austin, TX 78701, United States
Público // Mexico City, Mexico // Puebla 403, Roma Nte., 06700 Ciudad de México, CDMX, Mexico
Area Tres // Buenos Aires, Argentina // El Salvador: El Salvador 5218, C1414BPV CABA, Buenos Aires, Argentina // Soho: Malabia 1720, C1414DMJ CABA, Buenos Aires, Argentina
HubBOG // Bogota, Colombia // Cl. 98 #18-71, Bogotá, Cundinamarca, Colombia
CIT // Taipei, Taiwan // 10452, Taiwan, Taipei City, Zhongshan District, 玉門街1號
Of10 // Mumbai, India // Prudential, Ground Floor, Hiranandani Gardens, Powai, Mumbai, Maharashtra 400076, India
Kibar // Jakarta, Indonesia // Jl. Prof. Moh. Yamin No.1, RT.7/RW.5, Menteng, Kota Jakarta Pusat, Daerah Khusus Ibukota Jakarta 10310, Indonesia
Midori.so // Tokyo, Japan // Midori.so Nakameguro: 3 Chome-3-11 Aobadai, Meguro-ku, Tōkyō-to 153-0042, Japan // Midori.so Nagatacho: 2 Chome-5 Hirakawachō, Chiyoda-ku, Tōkyō-to 102-0093 // Midori.so2: 3 Chome-13 Minamiaoyama, Minato-ku, Tōkyō-to 107-0062, Japan
Launchgarage Innovation Hub // Manila, Philippines // Level 2, Industria Mall, Circulo Verde, Calle Industria, Bagumbayan, Quezon City, 1110 Metro Manila, Philippines
Independent Studios // Melbourne, Australia // 39/40 Porter St, Prahran VIC 3181, Australia
Urban Station EGYPT // Cairo, Egypt // 2 Wadi El Nil Mohandeseen, Cairo, Egypt
Nairobi Garage // Nairobi, Kenya // Nairobi Garage, The Mirage, Chiromo Rd, Nairobi, Kenya
BONUS: Cowork & Relax at the Coliving Space, Coconat // Brandenburg, Germany // Klein Glien 25 14806 Bad Belzig, Germany // Get €10 off your stay
Toni: Currently, we’ve somehow ended up in this niche of building a lot of internal tools for startups and teams. But this is not the only thing we want to do. What I like about it is that we’re starting projects from scratch and we have full control over them.
Martin: The first project we worked on was a tool for a large scale real estate development company. What they needed was a tool for their Sales people - to be able to mark their different spots and locations at different stages of the sales funnel. So we created a tool that helps them in this process.
Toni: And this one actually served as a starting point for the tool we’ve developed for betahaus, which aims to allow the Sales and Management team to see which team rooms are occupied right now, which ones are free or will be occupied in a few weeks or months, so no double bookings appear.
Alex: These two projects were more focused on real estate, let’s say, but we’ve also done more design-heavy projects like the one we did for Artique which is an online artists agency. For them, we built a whole website and an online system to present their artists starting only from their logo. It had to be very flexible, because the artists needed to be able to edit their own profiles, putting their resume, changing colours.
Toni: Honestly, we have skillsets that you don’t usually find in developers. Because we've had lives that were not just about computer science. I think to some extent this is what makes us different.
Martin: I believe one of the reasons why people pick us over other studios is because it can be very hard working with developers. If you’re not understanding their work, if the communication is not flowing, you, as a client can feel lost. We're easy to communicate with and we’re always open to feedback and we're open to discuss anything. In the end, after all iterations, if you say we need to start the website from scratch and that you don’t like the idea, we won’t take it personally.
Alex: Also, I think, since we all work as coding teachers, we are officially qualified to explain what coding is to people who don't code, which is actually really rare because a lot of developers, as Martin says, don't want to, or literally just don't know how to articulate what they're doing. Whereas we are trained in articulating what it is that we're doing, why it's meaningful and why it takes a certain amount of time.
Alex: Zimt & Mehl - the Turkish bakery around the corner. It’s just soo good.
Martin: Oh, there is this Italian restaurant called Ristorante del Arte
Tony: Oh, my God, this place is so funny. It looks like a pretty average Italian restaurant, but the whole interior design inside is just decorated in such a weird way. The entire place is covered in frescoes. They have crystal chandeliers and Easter bunnies. Some Greek columns. It has a different name on the menu, on the side and on the Internet. And it was an ex-shoe-store.
Want to get in touch with Obst Digital? Come around betahaus | Neukölln and meet them here or send them an email to firstname.lastname@example.org !