Interview by Mateja Plaskan
Samsarah Lilja is the head of Lilja Design, and specialises in corporate graphic and web design. She offers a wide range of services, such as logo development, logo optimisation for various types of media, vectorisation of image files, and business cards. She has developed an overall design and utilisation concept which integrates many elements into her work.
Samsarah has had over 10 years experience in the fields of web design, programming, structure, and marketing and has gained substantial know-how through working at the Department of Architectural Theory alongside Prof. Fritz Neumever at TU Berlin, as well as completing an internship at the well-known international architecture office of Prof. Hans Kollhoff in Rotterdam. She is also the founder of archinoah.de; an internet platform for architects, and tektorum.de; an affiliated discussion board.
Samsarah has been a member of betahaus for over a year and a half.
What inspired you to start working as a freelance corporate designer? How did you get involved in the field?
I started out as an architect, and after working in this field for a while, I decided I simply was not happy there, so I had two options; to either change firms, or to become a freelance architect, which would not be so easy in Berlin. I then found myself looking for a different option. I had some experience in programming and contacts from having founded an online platform for architects. I had also done many single projects in that area while still working as an architect, so I decided to make web design my second path, and that’s how I eventually ended up here.
The website of Lilja Design states that “the company logo is the most significant graphic element for all visual representation.” How do you create a logo that successfully represents and communicates the identity of a company?
I always start by having a long discussion session with my client – and it really depends a lot on whether they are already an established company, are just starting up, or are working as a freelancer. There is a lot of psychology involved - I try to figure out things like who my clients are, who they want to be, what they want to become, what their company represents, who their clients are, and so on. I then take into consideration which colours would suit them – colours represent emotions, so I would need to know whether they wish to appear strong or gentle, masculine or feminine, and so on. Through all these questions, I get an idea from which I make a draft, and then work towards the final product. My clients are usually pretty happy with the finished work.
You have been based at betahaus for more than one and a half years. What made you decide to start working from here, and how has working at a space like a betahaus affected your work?
I had the option to work with my friends who had offered me space at their office. Unfortunately, they were all architects, and all I wanted was to leave that branch, and not be in that environment anymore. I had two friends who were working at betahaus, so I decided to have a look one day, and talk to Madeleine. I then made my decision right away, and two days later I got my fix-desk and began working from here.
Working at betahaus has had a great effect on me and on my work. I had never thought I would make a good coworker – I’m more of a loner, so I thought I would have problems with socializing. As it turned out, I could be a pretty good networker, and I made contacts really quickly. Now I even have some in-house clients, as well as external recommendations from people at betahaus, so it served as a multiplier for me. I find I’m also able to “outsource” my work to other members, so if I happen to have a big project and a lot of work to do, I sometimes find a programmer in betahaus to help me out. So now I’m able to take on big projects that normally would be done by an agency.
You have participated in many projects. Out of all those, which would you consider to be your most treasured work?
I wouldn’t say that there is one particular project of mine that I value more than others. I think of each one as a new challenge. As an architect, I’ve worked on a lot of nice things, but those often took a long time – often a few years – and I’m not a very patient person. As a web designer, I find I’m working for the moment – perhaps that’s why I decided to change fields. Every month or week, I get new projects which I have to start from scratch, so there are a lot of challenges, and also moments of success.
What are some future plans or projects for Lilja Design?
I started my new career two years ago, and right now I am pretty happy with where I am. I have a couple of a big clients that come back frequently, as well as some smaller clients, and some single projects. I would eventually like to employ people or even start an agency. But right now, I am happy just being independent, being on my own and working at betahaus – and since I’m in a coworking space, I may not even need employees! For me the most important thing right now is simply to keep doing a good job and to keep making my clients happy.
Want to join Samsarah and other entrepreneurs at betahaus? See how here!
Let’s start with the big one. Anyone who has ever moved houses before knows there are tons of tiny expenses that suddenly add up to a very expensive relocation. And that’s just for you and your stuff.
When you start an office from scratch, you’ll have to invest in everything from new furniture to office amenities. You’ll need to outfit meeting rooms and stock the kitchen. Sign a monthly contract with the internet provider. Decorate. Even if you have a lot of these things from your old office, you’ll have to hire someone to help you move it and use up hours of your time getting everything set up.
One of the best parts of moving your team into a coworking space is that most of these costs are already covered in your monthly membership. You’ll move into a fully-furnished space with everything you need to get to work, AND you’ll know exactly how much you have to pay from the time you move in.
In a traditional office, you’ll typically have to sign a year lease (or longer). You’ll be committing to a fixed space that won’t grow with your team or give you flexibility if things change. Unless your contract goes month-to-month, you might just find yourself in a lifelong cycle of “let's figure it out next year”.
We believe that your office should help you grow, not hold you back. That’s why our Team Spaces come with leases as short as two months. Your rates are on a per-member basis, so you can easily expand your team or take over new rooms without having to break your lease. We work beside you rather than against you to find an arrangement that gives you the comfort of a home base with flexibility.
Did we mention this was going to be easy?
Just kidding. We definitely did.
But, look. Your space will be fully-furnished from the day you move in. We’ll have the WiFi up-and-running and printers online. The meeting rooms will be ready to go. The kitchenette stocked with mugs and freshly brewed coffee. And you’ll have the support of our coworking team. They’ll provide everything from reception to package handling to space maintenance. They’ll get you oriented in the space and make sure you have what you need to get to work.
New office without the downtime.
Some office spaces have a one-size-fits-all approach, but that's not really our style. The reason no two betahaus locations look the same is because they’re locally designed. And we give our Team Space members this same opportunity to customize their space.
Choose a room with a view of the city or one on the ground floor with easy access to the garden. Change the lighting fixture or bring your own bookshelf. We want teams to be able to white label, decorate, and really make the space their own if they want to.
And if you’re really looking to customize, Team HQs allow teams to collaborate with our architects and coworking team to create a space that is completely bespoke. Whether it’s additional meeting rooms, unconventional seating, or a yoga room, we apply our 10 years of experience in building functional workspace to your creative vision to create something that’s just right.
Probably the biggest benefit of coworking is community and events. Now we know it may not be the first thing you’re looking for as you seek out your next office space, but bear with us.
Imagine using your lunch breaks to chat with someone in your industry. Meeting freelance developers at after-work beers. Networking with investors at BETAPITCH. Pitching at our weekly betabreakfast and getting support and feedback on your new ideas.
betahaus has spent the last 10 years cultivating a community of people who we genuinely like working with. And when you join, your team will become a part of it, too.
" People matter! Community was always what we were all about. ‘’
In June we launched #PeopleInbeta - our monthly blog post series in which our Content Manager - Vihra interviewed teams and freelancers from the betahaus community to present the variety of creatives we have in ‘haus, to understand their missions and get some useful advice for our audience. We talked on topics such as sustainability (with PlanA) , decentralized digital identity (with JOLOCOM), curated music experiences (with Bespoke Sounds), freelance photography (with Sara Herrlander), full-stack development (with Obst Digital), design (with LAUDO) and much more.
In the summer, we launched a couple of new events in Neukölln like Freelancers, Unite!, The Backyard Sessions and My friend’s BBQ.
Freelancers, Unite! developed as our productive coworking session with freelancers from in and outside the ‘haus. Once a month, we picked an important freelance topic (such as taxes, time-management, etc) and invited experts to give us insights on the topic. We saw so many new faces and had the chance to come back closer to where we started from - the freelance, grassroots culture.
Another event, which started in July (and turned out to be our favourite events) were The Backyard Sessions. Organised by our queen of Neukölln - Robbin – the Backyard Sessions are our creative evenings with live music jams, movie screenings and cocktails.
This last event was hilarious because for quite some time, nobody knew exactly who organised it or invited them. The friend was throwing a BBQ for the community in the garden and this led to all our members joining and staying after for a beer or two with us.
‘’My favourite moment this year was the second friends bbq which was actually cancelled because of the rain forecast. But despite the bad weather, people show up and it turned into a super nice intimate evening with Elizaveta and Paul giving a garden concert.’’ - Robbin (Community Manager, betahaus)
''In July, it was great how the casual after-work BBQ turned into an impromptu acoustic blues jam session with Elizavetta Barsegova and Paul, who have the voice of an angel. Actually, all of the My Friend's BBQ's and Backyard Sessions were AWESOME.’’ - Paige (Head of Marketing, betahaus)
This year we released a new event format in Kreuzberg called ‘’The betaSalon’’. It's an open panel discussion which aims to give stage to important topics and give free speech on them. The fist one we did on the EU elections, last month we talked about changemakers, but our favourite one for this season stays ‘’Mother + Founder’’ where we partnered with FemGems podcast and recorded a live podcast episode for them having Madeleine Gummer von Mohl (betahaus co-founder), Kristine Zeller (co-creater of ooshi period underwear) and Luisa Hoffman on the stage.
Every September, our co-founders take part in the Techfestival. in Copenhagen, spending a few days disconnecting from the daily life and focusing on creating a better, more human-centered tech future. This year the think tank which included our co-founders Madeleine and Max came up with the TechPledge. The Tech Pledge was made to emphasize the need for a new direction in tech. Similar to the Hippocratic oath for doctors, the Tech Pledge is a promise to make tech a force for good and ensure responsible and sustainable tech leadership. It’s a commitment to driving a new direction in technology.
One of the most exciting projects for betahausX this year (which is also continuing in 2020) is their new startup challenge called The Werder Lab - a global startup competition that aims to reimagine the way clubs like Werder work with athletes, fans and partners.
This year couldn’t end without us having our favourite events - the end-of-the-year holiday party and the BETAPITCH Global Finals. On the 6th of December we saw the 9 finalists of the regional BETAPITCH competitions pitching in front of our jury. Congrats to Troy from Hamburg for winning the big prize.
We finished the year at our Holiday Party celebrating anything and everything at betahaus | Neukölln together with our members, friends of friends and our favourite artists from Passiflora LIVE, Tapete and Kotoe.
Thank you for being with us in 2019. It's been a crazy big year for us and it wouldn't been possible without your support, trust and the hard work of our amazing team. Have an amazing holiday time and we'll see you again in 2020.