Category: Projects

KochGelegenheiten — ideation


How can we enable people without any kitchen access to cook for themselves and others, because being able to do so plays a significant role in creating a space of comfort and wellbeing?

How could an integrated approach look like?

How can we encourage interactive food customs in Berlin’s social life, because a friendly vivid street life makes a city a pleasant and welcoming place to stay?


Thoughts, links and other stuff from our ideation phase:

Cooking instead of having a barbecue. Where else than at home can one cook in a city like Berlin? What is the legal frame? How to stretch it? A map of all the barbecue areas in Berlin:

Pinterest wall, we started on the topic of mobile kitchens:

A mobile kitchen is clearly not a long-term solution. It cannot replace a kitchen at home, but could be a beginning plus an integrative approach. Allowing for new culinary experiences elsewhere than at home could make it interesting for a lot of different people — also those ones having a proper kitchen at home. It could also help encouraging Berlin’s street life. Maybe making it part of a network of places willing to open up their kitchens to other people could make it even more relevant.

KochGelegenheiten — prototyping

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While developing the cooking sites, we had several things in mind. To name a few: First we wanted the sites to be small and functional to guarantee mobility. As many people as possible should be able to use them, regardless of their age, income, cultural background or whatsoever. The included cooking stove should be smoke-free to allow for a harmless usage. In order to achieve those self-set goals, we e.g. went through many YouTube tutorials on self-build stoves, we spent a lot of time in the metal workshop redesigning the stove over and over again and also building the carriage, we had fun testing the various prototypes (e.g. stoves, hot pots) of which some worked out better than others, had a look at different locations that could serve as a base for renting out the sites and last but not least talked to a lot of local initiatives in order to ask them if they would be willing to let other people use their kitchens.



KochGelegenheiten — concept


KochGelegenheiten both provides an opportunity to gain access to existing cooking facilities and allows for new culinary experiences. So far it consists of several mobile cooking sites and a multilingual map, which presents these sites, along with existing communal kitchens and cooking facilities in the Berlin district of Neukölln, as part of a novel integrated network.

The idea is based on the observation that many people in Berlin have no access or limited access to cooking facilities. This is for example the case for refugees living in shelters, where food is often provided either by catering services or in canteens. Such services rarely manage to accommodate all the diverse eating traditions of the multicultural residents. Making and sharing food is an essential part of every culture and plays a significant role in creating a space of comfort and wellbeing.

KochGelegenheiten is an experiment to enable people to cook for themselves and others. It encourages interactive food culture in Berlin’s social life.



KochGelgenheiten — StartNext Campaign

After having been promised local funding for realising the map (see results) we decided to use the StartNext Campaign for financing the mobile cooking sites.

Due to their small size and mobility they allow for new culinary experiences in extraordinary spaces. Everyone is free to use them against a contribution to expenses. The project is about the freedom of choosing ones own cooking spot. It therefore is about reclaiming a city’s space and last but not least about joint experiences. It encourages interactive food culture in Berlin’s street and social life.

The several sites vary in type of the included hot pots. Each comes from a different culture: e.g. tajine, steamer, wok. The cooking modules each consist of several Euroboxes which are stored together on a purpose-made carriage. Every site includes a self-build cooking stove.


KochGelegenheiten — research

The sharing of food has always been part of the human history. Eating as a common experience brings people together. The topic of food is therefore predestined to foster open care. Trying to find out more about this power of food culture in the context of open care, we went into the field primarily asking ourselves:

“How can food culture contribute to make people on the move feel at home wherever they are at that very moment?”

Amongst others we ended up talking to a 24 year-old guy from Syria and a girl from Korea about the same age. One of them had to flee home and the other moved for love.

We learned that missing the food one grew up with is a good motivation to become active: Both are regularly preparing the dishes they know from back home. It still belongs to their most favourite food and eating it makes them feel well and comfortable.

Than there is this whole topic of interactive food customs and traditions in public spaces. We heard about Syrian nights when the streets are being turned into living rooms. People drink tea, smoke, chat and even sleep outside. In Korea the young people often enjoy street food together when meeting up and in Morocco for example people gather in parks in the evenings and bring their tagine out to cook and mingle.

In the context of food and wellbeing we also found out, that eating out, when being new to a country, easily triggers uncomfortableness due to not being able to see the food preparation. Even though it was hard to tell whether this is because of hygienic concerns or dietary laws, it became clear that being able to cook for oneself and others definitely is a desire. A need which stays often unfulfilled in refugee camps, where food is often provided either by catering services or in canteens.

For more details on our research see the articles we posted on Edgeryders:

Cloudi – The Swing // Start Next Campaign


What is this project all about?

People are being disabled – by other people, objects, environments.

We want to abolish those barriers that are existing in our minds and environment from the early age by making a first step with our inclusive swing CLOUDI. By redesigning the play equipment ‘swing’ using different materials and form, we support a child’s physical ergonomics, strengthen the body and trigger imagination during outdoor play.

Diversity is an enrichment, thus we are aiming to encourage interaction between kids with disability and without. We are creating opportunities for all the children to engage in participative play by designing something that can be used independently from their physical constitution and composition. That way, we are able to start changing the lack of knowledge about the needs of impaired people.


What is the project goal and who is the project for?

Our mission is to raise awareness about and change the negative perception of disability and develop a product so that people aren’t defined by their disablity. We found that disabiltiy is more a social phenomena. Children rarely show fears of contact and prejudice. Thus, the design of an inclusive play equipment provides an ideal opportunity to provide impact on the human mindset. CLOUDI is made to reduce psychological barriers towards people with disabilities.

The goal is to build an object for children above the age of three that can be added on every playground and is inclusive as everything else on playgrounds is usually not. A bean bag or foam structure that adapts ergonomically to the body shape will be integrated into the seat sculpture of the CLOUDI. An elastic, water proof, abrasion-proof, washable coating which appeals to the tactile senses as well as a soft but resilient filling that allows to relax and feel comfortable is included in the design concept. .

By doing this, we make visible that there are benefits for both sides, the care giver and care taker. We are enabling people to connect with each other through design.


Why would you support this project?

Our project is a step towards an inclusive society, by creating encounters between people with and without disabilities.
We believe that everyone in the society should be able to enjoy as much of their life as they can. However, people with disabilities are facing many barriers through their life, both physically and psychologically. They are in a way sorted out of the everyday life. They are in special-needs schools, sheltered workshops, care homes. This results in prejudice and fear.
The welfare state seems to has failed to provide accessibility on playgrounds. We are aiming to ensure the fundamental right of social participation to people with all kinds of impairments. So we enhance access to play by developing a play equipment: The CLOUDI swing – Inclusive by design, not by label.

Help us raising awareness about barriers disabling people and support us to reduce prejudice in society! Together, we can change society’s perspective on disability.




The Video:

Our concept in the making

We knew that the most important part for recognition and brand identity will be our logo. We decided for it to be on stickers, posters, branded equipment, etc. The name was clear very soon: SAY HEY. It should stand shortly and easy to remember for the moment when newbies and locals get in contact – also it implies an action, invitation and challenge at the same time.

We tried around, made drafts and showed it to colleagues, people on the street. (spoiler: none of the following made it to the final round ;-))



Plauderpicknick with strangers

We decided for a qualitative research model in which the participants would have no face to face meeting but rather a round of people chatting about questions we would throw in from time to time. We asked about their feelings when coming to Germany, how easy it was to integrate, how they had progressed with learning German, what did help them in better learning about language and culture.

This was our facebook invite to friends and friends of friends:


Do you speak german? Sprachpicknick

We would like to invite both to a chilly picnic at the river to chat, get to know new people and have some drinks together.

Well, we first of all believe that Non-German-speakers should meet up more with German-speakers. And who doesn’t love selfmade food, good weather (yes we will do the sundance tonight…), and to talk to a bunch of really cool folks?

And then we would like to film some of your reactions, ask you some questions and take this nice experience back home to work on a solution for Berliners to meet each other more often, in order to learn German, have fun, and inspire each other.

So do us a favor and start in German.

Don’t be shy – perfect German never existed…


At the event itself only people who wanted to learn German came. From which we assumed that our instinct after first researches was right: It is much harder to convince locals to take part in such events than newcomers. The event was a success though, because we could interact directly with the participants and ask a lot of our questions.

The Shit Show – Exhibition Design

This is a first visualization of how the ShitShow might look in a possible location, in this case the foyer of the Studentenwerk Cafeteria in Berlin. The graphic and exhibition design is an entire project in itself, the concept below is a basic first approach for the task.

Elements of the setup would include stands with the various emotion simulators on display. On the plinths there would be little instructive diagrams on how to wear the objects and perhaps quotes from the survey responses that inspired them. The survey could be extended by creating boards with the questions. Visitors can interact and physically add their own responses. Lastly, there would be a place to display the giveaways and the logo.

From Universal Playground Design Concept To Inclusive Play Object


Playgrounds are spaces of encouter from which nobody should be excluded. In the course of planning barrier free playgrounds it therefore matters to eliminate barriers in such a way that all the children, independently from their physical constitution and composition, can use a playground and access the play equipment. To achieve this goal is an enormous challenge and requires continuous research and design iteration. On the one hand, offers have to be created which support and appeal to children with and without disability. On the other hand, there is a great range of different disabilites. Children with hearing or visual impairments need play offers which make us of smell, tactility, sound. Children who sit in wheelchairs need paths which are navigable with wheelchairs on the playground and accessible play equipment, like merry-go-rounds or see-saws for wheelchair users.

Earlier efforts of constructions of barrier free play offers in Germany, or in Berlin, succeeded rarely. Children have the need to participate actively and not be passive observers. They also need interaction with nature during outdoor play. It stimulates the mind, strengthens the body and helps to develop a sense of wonder and imagination. Soft play sculptures, accessible play equipment and cushioned play surfaces provide recreational opportunities and a multi-sensory experience enhances immersion.

Our ideas reached from developing a whole playground concept, very much like a theme-based park, to single playground elements. At first, we planned to build a labyrinth as it fulfills the requirements for inclusion mentioned before, but then we decided on designing a swing as we found universal design is of high complexity as many factors need to be considered. Even then, we found that redesigning an object which is a regular feature of certain public spaces comes with a lot responsibilty and it is very challenging to find a shape and material that suits everybodys needs.

On the basis of our interviews and the design iteration, we tried to develop an object which appeals to the humans basic needs. Cloudi is not barrierfree in the sense that you roll with a wheelchair on it. But it is inclusive.


Newcoemr – Start Next Campaign


We have developed an app that produces a closer contact between people. Residents and newcomers are brought together.

The app is for anyone who is new in town and not familiar. Newcomers in Berlin gain access to the city and its people in a playful way. In particular, refugees are in the app audience. As a newcomer, they must find their way in the new environment and creating contacts with local people is often difficult.

The supporters of our project will contribute to integration. If you love this idea, then support us by implementing the project.


Newcomer – Concept

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Newcomer is especially geared towards newly arrived refugees and allows every user to experience Berlin and getting to know the welcoming Berliners in a treasure-hunt like way! The foreign environment can be playfully explored, new relationships can be forged with locals and, over a period of time, a sense of inclusion and home will hopefully be created.

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Newcomer – Research

When people arrive at a new place without knowing anyone, exploring and connecting to others can be quite difficult and scary. Although this is the case for most people on the move, it is especially true for refugees. Required to cope with a completely new and foreign environment, a prolonged unclear and undefined residential status prevents refugees from feeling settled. This time spent in limbo often takes months and prevents the newly arrived from becoming active, easing into their new reality and feeling less isolated. For our project we interviewed numerous refugees and talked about the problems and difficulties they encounter every day. In order to help ease everyday problems ranging from having little to no contact with locals to missing a favorite spot, landmark or cafe we decided to put our heads together.

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SAY HEY backgrounds and research

People say the are willing to help, but they don´t want to feel obligated!


There are two parties: the NEWBIES on the one hand and the Germans, or LOCALS on the other hand.

Both of them are having different needs because they are in different situations.

We were doing surveys with both groups:



We went to a Language school at Berlin where people take German lessons and asked them following questions.


-NEWBIES are looking so badly for LOCALS who would like to spend just a little time with them!

-NEWBIES are afraid of doing the first step towards LOCALS.

-NEWBIES are afraid of being rejected.



-LOCALS are willing to help.

-But they say they don´t have that much time and don’t want to have more appointments.

-LOCALS don’t want to be responsible.

-They want to stay spontaneous.


How can we balance those two perspectives?


SAY HEY on Startnext

Let’s imagine you are new to the city of Berlin. How do you decide where to hang out? How do you meet new people? The SAY HEY tag will help you to orientate and find new spots, activities together with others. And they could become your new friends.
We are convinced that also people who now the city but want to attend new kinds of meetups or learn about something new will love this easy way of connecting spontaneously.


It’s about having fun, being spontaneous and being surprised by how well interaction works – even if people never met before.


We would like to see as many SAY HEY tags as possible in Berlin, to really show the openness and kindness which is leading this international scene. People should have the freedom to decide when they are ready for new things.

But see for yourself:

SAVA / StartNext campaign


The goal of our Start Next Campaign is to raise enough money to make a Workshop with the Whole Camp at ICC Berlin.

We´re happy about any kind of support 🙂


Together with refugees we’re designing a connection system, which can be used to create and (re-) combine different types of furniture– without special skills, tools or expensive material being needed. With this help, refugees can improve their own circumstances through the creation of simple furniture e.g. space for storage or privacy, stools and so on.

The ProblemMost refugee camps in Germany are designed in the same sporadic way: Except for the bunk beds, the temporary, roofless rooms created through gypsum walls do not offer any kind of comfort or space for privacy. But designing the own direkt living space plays an fundamental role for the self-esteem. Personal Furniture therefore is fundamental. Through simple solutions and smart design we want to help refugees being able to improve their own situation.

The Idea
With our system, different kind of furniture can be easily set up, recombined and modularly extended. Simple cable ties serves as the connecting element. Refugees can thereby design their own space of living. Thereby refugees can shape their own living space within the four walls actively on their own without special skills or knowledge, or tools being needed


Why would you support this project?

Currently the refugees are improvising solutions for these problems with what they have: Screws are being unscrewed out of the walls to hang clothes and blankets are being hung around the beds to create space for retrating within the open rooms – another solution is needed.
These solutions hint at the creative potantial already existing. And we want to use it. Our modular system shall enable the refugees using this creative potential in a productive way.

If you also don’t want to just “help”, but offer refugees the ability to active self help, support our project!

The Shit Show – Start Next Campaign



The funding money for The Shit Show will be used mainly for a first exhibition in October 2016 at a public space in Berlin – a cooperation with the Studentenwerk could be a starting point. Depending on our financial means and in case the ShitShow turns out to be a success, further exhibitions at different sites and events in the future are planned.The funding money will be used for:

  • material and labour costs of producing the emotion simulators
  • graphic design of infographics, website, stickers etc
  • production cost of the giveaways
  • logistics of setting up the exhibition

Thank yous

  • different variations of our giveaways – stickers, postcards, chocolates…
  • a golden shit sculpture (possible engraved?)
  • final level: becoming the location for the first ever shit show!



Exhibition Setting – Studentenwerk Cafeteria

Visualization: How the Shit Show could look in a possible location like the lobby of the Studentenwerk Mensa

More images of the Studentenwerk facilities: The entrance hall is a place where lots of students and staff pass through. It includes a cafe/bistro, a shop, cash point and info area. Outside of the buildings there are more places where people hang out. On the wide path in front of the entrance there are often little promotional stalls.




The Shit Show – Concept

The Shit Show is a new approach to a mental health awareness campaign for young people. It is designed to make the sensitive, ‘taboo’ issue of mental health more present and approachable to the public. Psychological struggles are still stigmatized, making it hard to reach out for help. We want to offer an alternative way for people to engage with the topic.

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The Shit Show itself is similar to an information booth, except it’s not. It’s more of an interactive pop-up exhibition. Just like standard info stalls, it can be set up at events like conferences, university open days or welcome fairs. The difference is that it isn’t intimidating or embarrassing to approach like a stand for mental health issues might be. It’s design is meant to be more light-hearted, humorous, appealing to a younger generation.

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The central element of the exhibition are emotion simulators. Passerbys are encouraged to try on the strangely beautiful contraptions and perhaps even to take pictures with them on. The goal of these objects is to give the wearer a sense of how emotional pain can feel physically. This is meant to create empathy towards those suffering from mental health issues. This can enable people to offer better support when someone reaches out to them. Furthermore, it may make people understand that it does not have to feel this way, that bad emotions do exist, but that they do not have to be as debilitating as these objects.


A possible addition could be interactive infographics, perhaps even created by the visitors. For example, the survey that the simulators are based on could be extended. Existing answers would be exhibited and people would be encouraged to add their own: write down how it felt to wear the simulators, or what their own simulator would look like, or put stickers on a shitty mood scale. These boards are intended to make it visible that bad feelings are something we all experience in some way and that it is nothing to be ashamed of.

IMG-20160723-WA0019 Sticker

As an incentive cool little giveaways will be there. These will include shit-shaped chocolates, shit pile stickers, ( maybe piece of shit badges) and empathic postcards. These items could also be distributed as part of the welcome kits that are often given out at the beginning of the new semester or sold as “moody merch” in the university shop. These little gifts are not just meant to draw people to the stall, but also to spread the word.


The last part of the Shit Show is an online community, either a website or a facebook page. On the giveaways, there will be a link to the page. This way, people have easy access to a first stop when they are in need of help without the awkwardness of taking a regular brochure. Online, people they should find a concise collection of info material, contacts to institutions like the studentenwerk guidance center and links to interesting projects, articles or funny relatable pictures.

The Shit Show – Goals

During our research we found that talking about our feelings and problems is the first and most crucial step in recovering and building resilience. But on an individual level, people cannot be forced to take this step. Not sharing is a justified choice, as it makes us vulnerable and people often don’t know how to react and help. The primary reason for this is a societal attitude of silence. Bad feelings are associated with shame and there is a general lack of information as part of common knowledge. Based on these insights, we decided to approach this project as a public awareness campaign and to generate conversation on the topic of mental health. The topic needs to be made more present and approachable. It should act as the first step in a chain of changes to the way we think and act about mental health issues.

“We want to challenge the current attitude towards psychological care. Our project tries to de-stigmatize psychological pain and make the sensitive, ‘taboo’ issue of mental health more present and approachable to the public. We believe that understanding and empathy is vital to provide good care for people that are suffering from emotional distress. We want to make it clear that feeling shitty is nothing to be ashamed of, but actually a very common thing. Also, we want the impact of these feelings to be understandable, so that more people can offer informed, helpful responses. When this happens, the threshold of reaching out is lowered, which in return allows problems to be addressed before they develop into serious mental conditions and to build general resilience.”

– excerpt from our fellowship article  on edgeryders / opencare

(read the whole thing here:


Survey – How does it feel?

How does it feel to feel shitty?

As we found in our interviews, it is very difficult for people to talk about their feelings, especially bad ones. So to gain more insight, we designed a short online survey that would allow people to share their thoughts with us anonymously. The goal was to get people reflecting on their emotional condition and collect descriptions that could help us make it understandable.

We asked two questions:

  1. When was the last time you felt really really shitty?

2. How would you describe how it felt physically?

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The responses to the first question were reassuring. Most people admitted to feeling shitty within the last week. Proof: Bad feelings exist, people have them alot. We intentionally left it open to interpretation how bad “really really shitty” could be, because it depends on the person, but we gave some directions to make clear that we mean shitty in an emotional way.

Survey Results Question 1

Common Themes

In the answers to the second question, there were some recurring motifs:

  • numb, blurry, brain fog,  muffled sounds
  • heavy, aching shoulders/back
  • slow, paralyzed, disoriented
  • sweaty, itchy, restless, uneasy, tense
  • pressure on chest, lump in throat, difficulty breathing
  • weak, fragile, small

Interview Insights

Interview Partners

PEERS – essentially our users, young people between 18-30 from different backgrounds, particularly friends, university students 


  • When was the last time you felt really shitty? What caused it?
  • What helps you when you feel shitty?
  • Who do you go to for help? Why/Why not?
  • How do you decide when it is time to get help?
  • What fears do you have of getting help?
  • When do you feel vulnerable?
  • How do you take care of yourself?
  • How do you feel right now talking about these things?
  • What’s your definition of a mental health issue?
  • What do you know about therapy or medication for mental illness?

Main Insights

  • Found it difficult to be interviewed about their feelings, particularly with strange people around
  • Easier for them to share with people who they know had similar experiences
  • Academic struggles seen as personal weakness
  • Social media as an additional stressor, taking time offline helps
  • Physical distractions to avoid / help facing emotional issues


Interview Partners Psychologists Interview Partners Guidance Councellor

PROFESSIONALS – experts in the field of mental illness and treatment, psychologists / psychotherapists, a guidance councellor and a helpline


  • How do people reach you?
  • What kind of problems are most common? Most pressing? Most difficult to talk about?
  • What keeps people from sharing their feelings?
  • How can people be made more comfortable and inclined to open up?
  • What kind of help is available?
  • What is most helpful/important in recovery/resilience?
  • What differences are there in the way people deal with their issues?

Main Insights

  • Many people don’t reach out until they have been in pain for a long time
  • Not sharing as a justified defense mechanism
  • Friends and Family may not be equipped to offers support
  • Misconceptions and lack of general knowledge about conditions and treatment options
  • Trusted personal relationships and open conversation as a key step in recovery
  • People cannot be forced to seek help, may not be ready to face their problems
  • Many issues stem from self-image / self-concept problems

Cloudi – The Swing



At the beginning of the project we asked ourselves :

“Where does disability start? Is it the impairment that disables people? Or is it the attitude of society or the environmental barriers, that actually disable people?”

We had several interviews that led to many insights, such as:

There are more special solutions for people with disabilities and less inclusive ones. Therefore there aren’t many encounters for people with and without disabilities. This results in prejudice and fear of contact.

So for creating more encounters we wanted to make something inclusive, which both people with and without disabilities can use.

Accordingly to this we asked ourselves what the most effective target group would be.

We decided to focus on children, because we want to encourage the interaction in an early age by playing.

We had the idea of an inclusive playground and had several ideas for inclusive playground equipment. We chose to design a swing.


There are many types of disabilities, it is not very possible to include every single condition. We decided to focus on one type of disability and start small. Because of one of our interviewees, we decided to focus on children who doesn’t have much muscle strength. This means a, their body would require some support in order to sit up, and b, they are very sensitive to how hard the material is. These define the objectivities of our materials, which are soft enough to feel comfortable, and has the ability to adapt to the body shape.

First thing that came out to our mind is a bean bag structure. In our first experience we put the bean bag filling into an elastic fabric and came out with this interesting structure.

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It is fun to play with, but as you can see this structure probably won’t last one week in a public playground. We later tried out a more tough and water proof fabric—neoprene, it still didn’t really solve the problem since once there is a little hole in the structure, the entire thing become not functional.

After this, we moved on to foam. The foam we purchased give us a lot of freedom to build a more interesting structure.



Yet we were still seeking a more comfortable material, and ended with memory foam.

Memory Foam

Memory foam was first developed by NASA to improve the safety of aircraft cushions. When it was first commercialized, memory foam was mainly used in medical and sports area. Today, it is widely seen in pillow and mattress business as people found it is very good to release next pain or back pain.

It was in the middle of our structure brainstorming that we realized some of the sketches look like a cloud, that is why we name the swing CLOUDI.


We also made some 3D prints based on visual aesthetics. On tope of these, we began to study if the forms make sense, and if the bumps actually adapt to the body.

The project is still on going. We are still in the middle of experimenting the under structure of the swing as well as the proaction on the surface: a tough fabric or some type of rubber coating.


CLOUDI is a start to our vision of an inclusive playground and society, as its educational concept is timeless. It appeals to all kinds of people to enrich their lives through diversity.

We want to approach universal design as close as possible. Redesigning an object which is a regular feature of certain public spaces comes with a lot of responsibility as it is very challenging to find a shape and material that suits everybody’s needs. On the basis of our interviews and design research we tried to develop an object which appeals to the basic human needs like comfort and security.

CLOUDI is not barrier-free in a sense that you can roll with a wheelchair on it. But it is inclusive as it is designed in such a way that people with physical impairments can engage in active play.

Thus, universal design is very demanding.

The goal is to install the swing on a public playground and so it left us with more questions: How are people reacting to it? And the material has to be tested: How robust is it in daily use?

We found that human centered design of a play object for public spaces is too ambitious for a semester project, so this project is not over yet. So if you have any thoughts or feedback, feel free to contact us!

SAVA / Furniture for Refugee Camps

The Refugee Camps in Berlin only supply the bare necessities. Besides eight bunkbeds there is often no more furniture. Its very hard for the people to organize themselves  and their stuff in the rooms. Besides that people have a lot of time and -as we found out through research- a lot of creative potential and motivation to do something with their hands.

We wanted to make furniture that is easy to assemble and can be combined in different ways. Two different formats of Chipwood Plate can be combined to either a stool, a box or a shelf-element by using only cable binders as a connector.

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First furniture workshop at ICC Berlin

We tried our prototypes last week at the ICC Berlin.  It was very productive and fun. Explaining the principle of the cable ties with the language barrier was a challenge but it turned out that material says more than words 🙂 After the first two tries the participants of the workshop could teach each other how to build the furniture.


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Easy assembling: Chipboard and cable ties

After showing our first prototypes out of cardboard to the Refugees, we felt like it would be better to work with a more durable and more stable material.

Here are the first Prototypes out of chip board. The system is the same: A modular furniture system that provides the possibility of assembling it differently by using cable ties. Out of two formats you can assemble a box, a shelf and a stool.

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Easy assembling: First prototypes

We feel the answer to our problem lies in establishing and expanding the Concept, that the people who live in Camps get involved in the daily happenings and motivate them to do what they can do best. During our research we always had the feeling that people were motivated and happy to get active and do something.

Our plan to help people improving their living situation by building their own furniture is a first step in that direction. It would be ideal to build up a workshop with actual tools and find a supervisor (there surely is a carpenter under the refugees who could take that role).
For now we will continue on finding a solution for a modular system for which you don’t need tools or professional skills, so everyone can do it .


These are the first Prototypes: Easy assembling furniture, tied together with cable ties. three Products: A Box to hang on the Beds for private stuff, a chair that, if you turn it on its side, can also be used as a part of a shelf.

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second meeting with Rosi and her family

We met Rosi and her family for a second time, to show them our models and get feedback.

They liked the first model ( tights stuffed with Polystyrene Beads), especially because it is see-through and one can see the inner structure.

Furthermore the grip feels very interesting and the material would support an upright position of the body, because it adapts to the body shape. But we noticed negative point, such as, vandalism. One can easily destroy or cut the outer surface of this model.

So we understood that we need something that is tear-proof and stable.

The family liked the idea of using foam for the seat. But they were skeptical, if the foam will adapt to the body shape like it needs to. For our model we used „Flex Foam lll“. It is one of the most flexible and soft foams we found. Together we came up with „Memory foam“.

Memory foam has the ability to return from a deformed state (temporary shape) to their original (permanent) shape induced by an external stimulus (trigger). It imbibes the posture and doesn’t take long return to its original shape. It is often used for mattresses.



Memory foam seems to be the perfect fit for our requirements. The next step would be to find the suitable coating, for the lying/sitting surface to be waterproof and at the same time maintaining the characteristics of the foam.

Interview with Rosalie and her parents

On monday we met 11 year old Rosalie and her parents for a drink. During the pregnancy, Rosalie lost the frontal part of her brain. Thus she has difficulties to talk, but she understands everything. Rosi is a very attentive young girl. She has spasticity and sits in a wheelchair. The wheelchair supports her in an upright position.

Rosalies parents told us, that there was no barrier-free playground when she was little. Her parents used to carry her out of the wheelchair so that she could play at the playground. Rosalies parents actually advocate this, since she was then given the opportunity to experience variety. She learned, felt and experienced things outside of her wheelchair. Apart from this, she didn’t feel different from the other kids anymore.

The family emphasized, that the variety and the new feeling a child gets when being or playing outside the wheelchair, is much more valuable than one might imagine. But unfortunately there is no equipment, no seats, which supports the body and ensures children with paralysis or spasticity a comfortable seat, for example while swinging. Her mother gave us the example of a beanbag chair. Thanks to its soft filling, the beanbag ensures a cozy seating and adapts to the body at once. The beanbag chair is body ergonomically.

The interview and the experiences the family has already made, gave us a whole new view of needs.

After a little observation and a couple of statements, we narrowed it down to the main elements, which are most popular by children in different ages: sandbox, swing, slide. We made sketches and gathered ideas of how each element could be inclusive. After adding the beanbag chair into our sketches, they led more and more into a swing.

So we minimized our target group into children at the age of 2 to 10 years, due to weight and hight.

Right now, we have a few ideas and sketches for a swing, in which you can sit or lay down together as two. Already existing swings inspired us, like in the pictures below.

The strength of our concept is currently more on the inclusion than on accessibility. Our idea of the swing is more about togetherness and common experiences with children with and without disabilities.
We could not imagine before, that inclusion and accessibility are two different topics/areas. Looking at our first idea of the playground and the current one, our current one is not barrier-free. The swing can not be used with a wheelchair. However, the current swing gives children the opportunity to experience moments outside their wheelchair, in a suitable way.

development of our design challenge

Our last design challenge was „how might we help society to drop down social and environmental barriers, because that is what disables people.“

We understood that the word society is too big in this context and we need to narrow it down. So we asked ourselves what is our target group? Where would it be most useful to start with all our gained insights? We decided to focus on children.

Keeping in mind the insights we gained from Raul Krauthausen, that because of a non barrier-free environment, there won’t be meetings with people with and without disabilities. This leads to prejudices and fears. It was our goal to work on accessibility in order to make meetings happen. Thus, our target is a barrier-free enviroment. In connection to children, the best place to start is the playground.

On a barrier-free playground children with and without disabilities can play together and meet each other. This way we could counteract fears of contacts in an early age/stage.

The idea was to give children with and without disabilities the opportunity to play together on one drive. Our goal was to develop an inclusive device, which two children with disabilities, two without or one with and one without disabilities, could use and have fun with.

We started to make further interviews with kids and their children, to gain more insights in this matter.

Interview with Raul Krauthausen

On Sunday the 15th of june i met with Raul Krauthausen. Raul is a activist for disability rights and founder of the nonprofit organisation „Sozialhelden“.
Raul has glass bones and sits in a wheelchair. I asked him several questions and a couple of them i will list in this essay:

Raul believes that people with disabilities are in a way sorted out of the everyday life. They are in special-needs schools, sheltered workshops, care homes etc. This results in prejudice and fear.
„Every tenth person in our society has a disability, but not every tenth person in our circle of friends is disabled. That means: They have to be somewhere! We are hidden. In „specialized institutions“. We are engaged in sheltered workshops, brought into care homes, because we are too expensive if we want to live alone…“

In our conversation, he emphasized, that people with disabilities are always associated with a cost-factor. But not only that. There is always a „special“ solution for people with disabilities. He gave me the advice, since I study product design, to always try to include people with disability into my designs. Not to try to find a special solution for people with disabilities but to mainstream it. This would be a big step towards inclusion.

We also talked about the „ Behindertengleichstellungsgesetzt“. (Disabled-equality-law)

This law aims to eliminate or prevent discrimination against persons with disabilities and ensures equal participation of people with disabilities in the life in society and enables them to independent living.
In Germany however, only the state is obliged to guarantee accessibility, e.g. in public offices, buildings, etc.

But if we compare how often we go to a state office and how often we go to a café, restaurant, cinema or supermarket, it is very unbalanced. Inclusion and participation can therefore only work, if the private sector must be involved. Furthermore private companies provide jobs, that may be also filled up with people with disabilities. It is unrealistic to believe, that the „disabled-equality-law“ is sufficient enough, if it only takes the state in the duty.

So to make a step towards an inclusive society, it must come to encounters between people with and without disabilities. But for creating encounters, we have to remove barriers. So the cause is the barrier and the result is the non existing encounter. For successful inclusion, in which it is no longer necessary to use term „inclusion“, we need accessibility.

I also asked Raul what he wishes for the social intercourse between people with and without disabilites. This was his answer:

„More normality. More everyday life. Not that someone needs to change his behavior, that happens naturally. I don’t want to teach a seminar with the topic how to interact with people with disabilities. Everyone will teach it themselves if we meet each other. This would mean, that we need to remove barriers. We have to open schools and universities for people with disabilities. If we would meet each other, we would learn from each other. I personally only learned how to interact with disability by interacting with disability. Its learning by doing. There is no school for that.“

How to change the society’s perspective on differences

I started this project with the question „how can i help by giving someone the opportunity to help themselves?“

Everyone wants to be independent in a way. We want to be understood as a person of freedom and to be able to act out of this freedom. The freedom to make one’s own choices, and independence of persons is a human right.

I thought of a scenario, if someone has specific or non-specific difficulties with something or in certain situations, I would design a tool, which can then be used from an individual or a group alone. The goal at first was to provide a product, service, etc., that is actually really needed. Whatever „it“ is going to be, it is designed for a need, which I have to find out.
It should not result in a situation of one helper and one taker. My thought was to help someone in a functional way, and not take their voice away. I want to contribute, so that people can fulfill theirselves, in the way they want to.

So I started to think/ look for someone who would have difficulties with something or maybe even a difficulty that the person itself is not aware of.
I thought of children, who still develop their motor skills/ movement skills, elderly people in which the body in various factors weakens and people with a disability.
I dug deeper into the term disability. What is disability?

I asked and still ask myself, where does disability start? Is it the disability itself, that disables people? Or is it the attitude and perception of the society and a non-barrier-free environment which actually disables?

A lot of people and especially the media are using phrases as „tied to the wheelchair“, „suffers from …“ „despite the disability“. Thus, a more negative image of disabilities and diseases is shaped.

Why don’t we use phrases as „lives in a wheelchair“ or „has a disease“ ? This way one does not classify anything. How can a outside observer judge, if a person suffers from a disease and not lives with a disease? Why do we only see the things, that someone can not do? Why do we only see the deficit? Why do we reduce people with a disability to their deficits?

Does my original challenge lead me into a new one; how can we change the society’s perspective on differences?

The public image of people with a disability restricts rather on sufferers, victims or heroes. Other aspects of life take a back seat. At the end of the day, there is not and never will be one human being on this earth, who can do anything. Aren’t we all disabled in a way? Having a disability can change someones values and goals. Therefore it can not only mean  fate, but a win too.
Why do we think that living a happy, fulfilled and satisfied life is easier without disabilities?
Why do we think the nonplus ultra is a complete and functioning body? And if so, why being content with e.g. two functioning arms, but only writing with one? Why do we only use our feet for standing or walking? Why not writing, eating or doing other things with our feet instead?

We limit ourselves without noticing, and at the same time assume that others are limited.

Interview 4.0

Recently we had a telephon interview with Peter*, whos child has certain limitations. As one of three kids Fabian* grew up in a endearing family, which gives him on one side as much personal and special support and on the other side treat him like his two older brothers.

Fabian lost half of his brain function after having a stroke, which lead to spastic hemiparalysis. Because of that further problems came up like a malposition of his hips and a curvature of the spine.

When I met him he was full of power, running around, shaking everybodys hand and laughing. But most of the time he should sit in his wheelchair, in order to guard against swollen and painful knees. Because of a cognitive limitation Fabian is receiving all the stimuli. As we can focus on one thing and block our environment out, Fabian can not filter environmental informations. That makes him most of the time an observer, someone who is rather watching, than being in the focus of interest. Since one year his parents noticing an aggressivity againgt himself, because he starts to reflect himself, his position and possibilties. A psychologyst told them that often kids with disabilitys that are more supported are more reflecting themselves and knowing what limitations they have than kids that are not getting that well supported.

Getting that special and individual support is really important for them, thats why the parents decided to send Fabian to a school for physically handicapped kids. There they will have a class with about eight kids, one teacher and one pedagog. Trained assistants with different specializations like physiotherapist, care worker or ergotherapist are working in the school as well. Peter said that inclusion or integration is the actual content and sounds good, but it does not always work, as we can see in Fabians case.

And that individuality makes it even difficult on playgrounds to build it barrierfree.

For Fabian, who can walk and run but not grab, force or push with his one arm, playgrounds would need to have different requirements than for other handicapped kids.

Swinging is a really nice, exciting and relaxating activity. Swings with only a plank do not fit Fabian’s physical needs, since he is not able to hold himself with one arm. Laying on a birds nest swing is more easy for him.

Slides are good to use in case the entrance is easy to reach. Climbing nets or round ladders makes it difficult for Fabian.

Water and Sand is an interesting sensorial material, that all childs love. playing in the mud, splashing with the water, diging holes or baking sand cakes are activities that could be on hip height and done while sitting in a wheelchair.

Getting this insight from a parents view leades us more in the direction what kids with handicappes are able to do, what they like, what they prefer and what should have been thought from another perspective.


*Names changed to protect privacy

KochGelegenheiten — Experimental cooking with only a few tools

We had an experimental cooking dinner where our guests had to cook a dish from their home country. There was a Group from Syria, one from Israel, one from Austria and another one from China. They had to choose from three different stations their limited cooking appliances and had only one hotplate.

For more details on the experimen see also:


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Language Barrier – How can we build a Bridge?

Non-Germans want to learn German and want to take part in social life.
Germans are not as enthusiastic yet. They don`t want to feel obligated.

How can we still create social interaction?

That´s what we already tried out;)


Giving German people a SIGN which could be a print on a shirt, sticker, bag, what ever that says: “Hey, join us!”/”Don´t be shy!”/”Take part!”…
They´ll have the opportunity to put it on in a situation where they want foreign people to participate – Non-Germans wouldn´t have a as hard time to bring oneselfes to do the first step.

Encourage creative potential


On our Visits of the Camp we were shown around by a very nice Volunteer.  Sheintroduced us to a room of eight Syrians, four of which were ready to help us in our project and provided us with insights.
Besides stories over everyday rituals like tea and Syrian home traditions, we were shown the little gimmicks to improve the bare rooms where they are living in at the moment: How they pulled out screws and nails from the walls to make clothing hooks; how you make a wall­mounted phone holder with just duct tape and a piece of wood; where to store the food;

they showed us how they hack the beds to create more privacy and how to shield the light falling onto the upper beds with merely pieces of wood and a blanket to a point where one could create an entire ceiling with just white cloth.

We learnt quickly that the ideas of how to use the space could never occur to someone who has never been in that exact position ­ it was evident that they know best about
the needs and necessities in their very situation and environment.

With the creative potential, the only problem lies in the lack of tools and materials.
To see what would happen if material were available, we made a little experiment where
we brought basics like duct tape, cable ties, string and durable cardboard and looked
what they would think of building intuitively. Despite scepticism in the beginning, it was
beautiful to witness the moment when everyone in the room joined to figure out the best construction for a wall­mounted shelf, built with mortise and tenon joints. The fact the
project was dealt with in such a manner, shows the willingness to engage these kinds of challenges with seriousness and a certain claim to quality and that it is not only about practicality and pure function, for such a shelf could have been easily assembled with
just tape and cardboard. It was fun for us to join the working process and thinking with
them about the construction and making, but more importantly, it was fun for them to be challenged in making something useful and to make that beautifully. Mohammed, who
came up with the idea of using joinery, later joked saying he would love to make such
shelves for the whole camp ­ and we hoped, it was not merely a joke, but a mentality that we could continue to work with. In fact, we left all the spare materials in their rooms and by our next visit they had built another two shelves and a small storage for clothes under one of the beds.


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How can we help people to help themselves? / First Research

The young male refugees are often regarded as healthy and fit, able to work and therefore are not treated as a priority in terms of care. However; of what use could these benefits be if there is nothing to do? In Germany, refugees are not allowed to pick proper work for the first three months of their stay. After that period, a working permit is needed to apply for a job. The permit, however, is only granted if the person is no longer living in a refugee camp. Needless to say, the said three months often pass without anything really happening and three months slowly turn into six months and into a year

­ during which there is nothing to do.

We are currently working at the Internationales Congress Centrum (ICC) in Berlin
­ a former congress center that has recently been turned into a refugee camp. Even with the circumstances being unfavourable, the atmosphere at the ICC is quite the opposite: The interaction between the refugees and the staff and security is remarkably free and friendly. Volunteers playing with children; refugees and security joking around and everybody is eating at the same table. There is no hint of the provider/receiver­dilemma that you would witness in other establishments.
We’ve been warmly welcomed by the people and the relationships have gradually grown more personal since our first visit.

_ Excerpt of the Edgeryders Article