Christoph Fahle
March 19, 2012

Member of the Week: Samsarah Lilja

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.

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! 

www.lilja.de

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Have any of these brilliant ideas made you curious about the challenge? Follow us on LinkedIn for updates on the competition!

To be honest, I sort of fell into it. I was always working somewhere between content marketing and the music industry and around seven years ago a friend of a friend was searching for someone to help him curating music for his boutique surf spot on the beach in Costa Rica. The owner was a big music fan, but he just didn't have time to keep all the music up-to-date. So I got introduced to him, we shared similar tastes, and agreed that I would do the music for his space - curating it and updating it with new music on a regular basis.

This for me was a dream come true. I could finally work with music all day, and at the same time, I could help create an awesome experience for the guests. I saw people's reactions when they heard a song they liked. I saw them dancing, getting a little closer to each other at the bar and that for me was really rewarding.

This was the moment when I realized that there is something special about this idea and I got interested if there is actually market out there. I did some market research, and a lot of interviews with different hoteliers people in the industry trying to get more feedback. And the idea started growing more and more. 

People in beta Clay Bassford Bespoke Sound



Interesting is the story of the last years winner in the category “Creative”. Hamburg based headraft literally took music experience to the next level by creating the world’s first AR Music Video for the German band “die Fantastischen Vier”. Designed for their song “Tunnel”, the cited app unfolds a virtual story world once the track starts playing, giving fans the opportunity to go on an interactive journey with the band rather than being a passive viewer. 

Applications are now open! Finalists will be awaited by a curious jury of five leading industry experts. Among others, Kathleen Cohen who was already taking part in the first year will be in the panel of judges again. With a 25-year multiplatform career history under her belt, she is one of the most regarded in the field. As a digital experience expert, she has successfully implemented projects for DreamWorks Interactive and IBM Innovation, to name a few.

Needless to say, the yearly AUREA Award is definitely the place to be. Apply and become a member of the community bringing together all the promising products and solutions in the AR/VR sector.

Photo by AUREA Award

OKAY BUT HOW IS BESPOKE SOUND DIFFERENT THAN PLAYING MY "DISCOVER WEEKLY’’ OR ANY OTHER AUTOMATICALLY GENERATED PLAYLIST ?

Well, both. Currently we offer the following two options: shorter publicly available Brand Playlists and long-form private Soundtracks for spaces. For both of them we work closely with the client to understand how sound fits into their brand DNA and what their audience is like.

We believe that the guests’ experience with a particular space doesn’t have to begin and end with their stay. The idea of the Brand Playlist is to be a public brand playlists designed to engage the customers before, during, and after their visit at a space. It’s always accessible for them and serves as a new, dynamic marketing channel.

The Soundtrack is slightly different. It takes sometimes up to weeks of work and is designed by a world-class artist, DJ, or tastemaker. For it we first work with you to develop a deep understanding of your business and style. Then we match you with the perfect artist, DJ, or tastemaker to create unique, always fresh playlists, custom tailored to match your brand. 

In both cases, we update them regularly based on guest habits and clients’ needs. 

People in beta Clay Bassford Bespoke Sound



The way we engage with the music community is something really important for us and honestly, what makes us different than other background music providers. A lot of the background music providers out there have internal teams of maybe five or six DJs that do all of the music for their clients. We aim to connect with the local scene and always work with local DJs. There's some kind of magic in finding the exact right artists for the brand.

And on the flip side of it, when we hire artists, we make sure that the project is also inspiring for them and that they would be interested in participating. We always make sure to pay them well. The whole project creates for them a new income stream that they wouldn't have otherwise.

People in beta Clay Bassford Bespoke Sound

Yes! This was really fun. The objective with the betahaus "betabeer sounds" playlist was to showcase the community side of betahaus. There are so many cool, interesting people in the betahaus community and we thought a playlist could be a perfect way to not only help bring the community together but also show the diverse funkiness of the communities of Berlin and Neukölln, which is why Hazy Pockets, a longtime local Berlin DJ known for his eclectic mixes, was perfect for this project.

This playlist moves from bluesy 60s rock into surf and tropicalia, picking up momentum into Motown and onwards through some laid back disco tunes. Perfect for the betabeer events betahaus hosts monthly!


YOU’RE CURRENTLY ENJOYING THE SUN FAR FROM BERLIN. WHAT ARE SOME OF YOUR FAVOURITE PLACES in berlin that YOU MISS THE MOST?

Oh, there are just so many! Like the Imren Grill for instance where you can find the best homemade Turkish food or Das Gift and Gordon which are both run by great music people. Kohelenquelle in Prenzleuer Berg is my favorite local bar (or rather kneipe). To satisfy my  techno / electronic records needs I always go to Hard Wax and one of my most special places is the Zions Kirche steeple, which has an awesome view of the city and a great Weinerei close by. 


You can see me around betahaus. Online, you can always check out my website and listen to our public playlists on Spotify. We’re also currently working on a collaboration with betahaus, so a special Playlist curated by is will very soon sound around the spaces in Kreuzberg and Neukölln. 

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