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Weeknote 386 – 389

April 15th to May 12th

Author: Christophe Stoll
Date: 11. May 2013

Wow, it’s been a month and no weeknote at all. So this is what happens if Johannes asks me to take over the duty. Well, as I don’t exactly remember what happened per week, i’ll try to give a rough résumé for the past four weeks, grouped by major events:

Workshop at Hochschule für Gestaltung Schwäbisch Gmünd
Once again we traveled to Hochschule für Gestaltung Schwäbisch Gmünd to give a 1,5 days workshop to master students. It’s around 7 hours on the train, but we always use the time to reflect on various topics and work on latest workshop preparations. This time, it felt like traveling into another country: the trees in Southern Germany were already green and it was a lot warmer. So we had dinner outside on both evenings in Schwäbisch Gmünd, a rather gemütlich smalltown.

Our workshop there is on multiscreen-device design (we moved away from “screen” and started talking about “device”). As we prefer to actually make stuff and take most of the time to sketch and discuss digital product ideas with our students, we decided to apply what we had just learned in our Design Studio training with Todd a week earlier. And although everybody was quite challenged by the workshop pace in the beginning, we felt that all participants really appreciated the approach: they threw out so many ideas and sketches, and patiently went through a dozen rounds of sketching, pitching and critique. For us it was really exciting to observe how their product ideas, but mainly the group dynamics became better and better with every iteration.

Fostering and growing
Spring is always a good time of the year to prepare your garden for summertime – and to discuss next steps for your company! Since we’re adding a few people to the team within the next few months, we actually need to define a certain framework. We have a pretty clear picture in mind and a shared understanding of what we want the precious design studio to be and to become (and what we don’t want!), but putting it into words and being able to convey this mindset to new people is something else. Our beloved friend and new studio manager Svenja is helping us laying out plans and tactics to foster and grow our vision of a fully transparent, non-hierarchical and highly participatory company culture. There won’t be a masterplan anytime soon, but there won’t be a better moment to try things out. As Johannes once wrote: developing the company is the toughest design project to work on – and we need to experiment and iterate on that as well.

Teenage Engineering
Jan showed up the other day and had a magic piece of music hardware in his backpack: the OP-1 by Teenage Engineering. He gave a short demo and I was even more taken with it afterwards. These guys really have created something mind-blowingly unique and fun.

Project inquiries
We have a lot of pretty thrilling project inquiries in the pipeline these days. That’s fantastic and we’re very thankful, but it also means we’ll have to reject a few of them. Same goes for some talk and workshop requests. Turning down promising opportunities is always a painful thing, so that’s one of the reasons why we’re adding a few people to the team.

This week we traveled to Berlin for two days of re:publica. We enjoyed the conference as guests this year – having worked on the design in 2011 and 2012. Entering the conference terrain was a goosebumps moment: it felt so good coming back to STATION Berin after a full year – we had such a good and intense time there back in May 2012. It was great seeing all the lovely people of the re:publica team again, talking to our dear raumlabor friends, hanging around for two days and being able to listen to a few talks. And the cappuccino was delicious again!

It was also very interesting and inspiring to see what this year’s designers 10hoch16 came up with. They’re great people and we chatted about a broad range of topics – working with re:publica, running a design studio, changing the world … I think we should work together on something, sometime.

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