In 2013 my friends Giuseppe and Emanuele built a little bus that would change its color between red and green according to the waiting time. I got inspired and kept working on this concept during my first university course at FHP supervised by Reto Wettach. My final prototype had two discs showing the waiting time for the subway U8 going in both directions. By rotating the disc you can postpone the departure time.
With this prototype we participated in the Betapitch and won 6 moths of coworking space. Emanuele then moved to Berlin and we continued working on it.
Just adding another screen to our daily life is not the most elegant solution. In the coming months we developed a few more prototypes with rather complex gear mechanisms. The first were designed to work in public spaces and thus had no direct interaction. Eventually we decided to design it for the private space as the uses cases are more interesting. Now it had a more direct and tangible interaction that worked for the majority of uses cases at home. After the initial setup you place one the of the spheres on the clock face and it shows you the next departure of one public transportation. Simple as that.
It's such a pity that so many interesting data-driven stories don't reach the general public. So why not take the data and put it where people can't look away? When I read the description of Boris Müller's course I had to join: translating abstract data into tangible structures. After presenting my idea we ended up being a group of 5: Mario, Merle, Philipp, Thomas and me. Thomas is deaf and therefore always had a translator during the course. This meant we couldn't discuss ideas for hours and as fast as we usually did. It made us communicate more efficiently by keeping our speeches short and sweet and always sketching out our ideas.
The Berliner Box emerged during a course supervised by Hermann Weizenegger. The challenge: create a cube 36 × 36 cm. That semester I had just moved to a new shared flat and was annoyed by having to disassemble & reassemble my furniture, putting my things into cardboards boxes etc. So I set out to create an affordable and easy-to-handle cube for the typical student in Berlin moving at least once a year. The first weeks we visited metal, wood and acrylic workshops around Berlin and started creating our first concepts out of cardboard.
After coming up with the basic modular concept the bigger challenge was to combine the right material with the right manufacturing process. During the course I imagined it to be a DIY process to keep the box as affordable as possible. You would buy the pre-cut wooden panels at your local carpenter and put them together with wooden dowels, hammer and express wood glue. Unfortunately only a few people seemed eager to go through this tedious process just to avoid the assembly costs.
During the next 2 years I sold more than 50 Berliner Boxes. I currently have various prototypes in my flat with different materials, thicknesses; some even have holes on the side to make them easier to carry.
Price-performance ratio dilemma: People love the look and price of the OSB material. Multiplex however, is way more durable and environmentally friendly but also more expensive. And people who could afford the multiplex version usually don't move that often.