The printing press is in full swing. On a rack nearby, the ink on the first batch of posters is drying. They carry phrases like “Dein Gesicht hat Potenzial” (your face has potential), “Meine Schenkel brennen vor Verlangen” (my loins are burning with desire) or “Ich mag deinen Pulli” (I like your jumper). What’s all this about? The answer is really quite simple: it’s ESPI Maker Days again!
“For the third time this year, we’re closing our Berlin office for two days to give our staff the chance to work on projects that aren’t work related,” says Robert Stulle, Partner at Edenspiekermann. So, burning loins and nice jumpers, eh? Designer Bastian Boss has the explanation: “Our group’s idea is to send out love letters to Berlin, short positive messages that we are going to post across town afterwards.” So far, he and his colleagues are having a great time, enjoying the opportunity to play around in Erik Spiekermann’s printing workshop and get their hands dirty.
The letter choices at Erik’s printing studio p98a are endless.
Across the street, at the office, the other colleagues have joined forces as well. People are seizing the opportunity to get a little crazy and work those brains together. For some that means evolving the cooking app they made for the last Maker Days, or for others, bringing the company product, the Card Builder, to a new level. Developed just recently for ZEIT ONLINE, it lets editors create mobile friendly interactive narratives. The team’s goal for the next two days is to not only lay down a marketing concept, but to find both a logo and a name.
Getting rid of something that has been bugging you for ages is also a legitimate Maker Days motto. In this spirit, a small but brave group are confronting the task to make hourly registration–a wildly unpopular duty–as easy and pain free as possible. The working title for their app, “Happy Hour”, sounds promising.
The Los Angeles team, starting off with sun and pizza.
The third round of Maker Days is seeing a premiere: for the first time, the ESPI offices in Amsterdam, Los Angeles and Singapore are joining in on the fun. “Everyone here is really excited to make something and to feel connected with the other offices,” says Bernice Goudt, who manages Marketing & Communication in Amsterdam. In order to make this a more permanent experience, a couple of Amsterdam colleagues decided to build a periscope as a cross-office communication device. “Basically, each office will have a set of periscopes, preferably in a nice communal area, each peeking into the other offices. This means that the face of a curious guy in Amsterdam might just pop up on the periscope screen in Berlin, and maybe even get into a conversation with somebody there.”
Periscope action at Amsterdam.
Like the two previous Maker Days, there’s a theme that people can contribute their time to. “Doing something for the greater good is the motto we chose,” explains Robert Stulle. With reference to this, two groups are devoting their projects to helping refugees.
Designer David Jacob has teamed up with coworkers to build a blog for his website Workeer, a platform that he and his friend Philipp Kühn built for their bachelor thesis. Its aim is to connect refugees and migrants who are looking for work in Germany with employers who are interested in giving them a job. “We want to add a blog to the platform as a home for news and announcements, and as a way to feature success stories and portraits of interesting people who registered. So far, the required formats are coming along nicely,” says David.
On the same floor, another group is working with the Berlin based organization Social Collective, who want to launch a refugee board that provides refugees with information on topics such as medical care or housing. “Right now we are helping Social Collective to define the positioning of the product and to identify the needs of their target group,” designer Meral Hirsch explains. Next steps will include gathering more information by interviewing refugees, and starting visualization for information material and a website. All in all, the task is turning out to be quite complex–a perfect playground for designers. “It’s nice to see that we can support a good cause by using our professional skills,” says designer Sharon Walsh.
Project planning in Singapore.
Doing something for the greater good at the Singapore office means looking out for the environment. Partner Edo van Dijk wants to achieve this by reducing the amount of plastic bags in Singapore. “Every Singaporian uses 1.6 plastic bags every day. That’s 3 billion plastic bags each year,” he explains. “We are using Maker Days to come up with a concept for thin but strong reusable bags, which, by the way, are going to have killer motifs, so everybody will want one.”
Interactive banner at Bahnhof Kurfürstenstraße
Gathered around the table tennis at the Berlin office, a team is discussing how to bring about interaction between people in an urban environment. “In cities, people interact very little if they don’t have to. We are looking for ways to change that,” says Partner Steven Cook. So far, the group’s plan of action contains putting up a banner at a subway station asking passersby to write down what they wish for Berlin. They are also going to install a speaker on close-by Potsdamer Platz, inviting people to share a song via Bluetooth.
The office team at Berlin took the Oktoberfest party theme to the next level.
All of this heavy thinking has made the crowd quite hungry, so people start heading towards the office tower for a big office dinner, followed by an Oktoberfest. Robert Stulle is looking around and enjoying the very special Maker Days vibe: “The experience today matches the one during the first two rounds of Maker Days: half of it is learning and experimenting, and the other half is a social happening among colleagues–we are having fun together.”
Pictures by the office teams and photographer Claudia Burger.