012022: It Takes A Village

a yellow curtain being pulled to the side

Coordinates: It’s half past midnight and I just switched the light back on to start typing this. It was one of those situations we all know: As soon as you put your body to rest, your mind starts wandering, walking, sometimes running. So did mine – and another issue of this newsletter was long overdue! So here we are: 0:24am. Welcome back!

Log book: Since the last newsletter, six months passed by. I kept true to my belief that one should only write something when there is something to tell, and the last months have been so full of work and projects and business that I didn’t know how to make shareable sense of everything. That’s why I sticked to the simple format of lists: I made one for every month of 2022 so far, and if you understand German, you can read them all in the blog. However, I actually do have some bigger news I want to share with you:

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I am co-founding a company! For the last two years, I’ve been enjoying my freelance life and all the freedom that comes with it, but I’ve been missing exchange and tackling bigger, more relevant topics with a team of smart people. Luckily, I found these people, I’ve been knowing them all along. For a while, we’ve been talking about how we want to work, what we want to work on, and how we can build a framework that provides a flexible, democratic work environment to design and build digital products.

That’s why we decided to found a cooperative: Village One. ✨ We signed all the paperwork on Friday, and it is all very exciting!

Why cooperative though? As it is owned by its workers, the format truly ensures that everyone can have a say and steer the company towards the right direction. The world and our society are battling so many crises at the moment, and as much as designers like to tell themselves that „design will save the world“ – it won’t, I’m sorry, not until we use our energy for the right things. Overcome capitalist thinking; putting the planet over profit; redistribute privilege; foster a calmer, better society; online and offline – that’s what we aim for. It sounds utopian, yes, but we have to start creating the right frameworks to steer the narrative. Harry Keller, one of my co-founders, puts it very well in his newsletter (which I highly recommend):

For a long time I’ve felt powerless and unsure what I can contribute here, but over the past months I’ve sat down with a few thoughtful people and we’ve sketched out a new kind of workplace. A place that embraces emergence over hierarchical planning, a place that’s owned by all its workers, embracing diversity and new perspectives, which is democratically governed, feminist, anti-racist, curious and humble, choosing cooperation over competition, operating as a distributed team with asynchronous workflows, enabling maximum flexibility for its people, empowering them to live the life they want.

At the moment, we’re a small team, but we’re very excited to get going with our first projects, build our own site, and get to know more people (maybe you?) that are interested in our idea. I’d be happy if you followed along; on twitter, on our mailing list, or just by reaching out (simply by replying to this e-mail).

You can read even more about it on our Village One site (more content to come!) and in Harry’s recent newsletter.

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We’re still busy getting everything up and running, but I wanted to have you all aboard already and share the news with you (and also the reason that kept me so busy during the past months). So, what else happened?

I wrote more columns for form design magazine about digital nostalgia: One about the Cloud, and the most recent one about Desktop Publishing. Ordering the printed magazine is highly recommended; the form team always manages to add a big variety of perspectives towards one topic; most recently: Generations.

During this summer semester, from April to July, I teach a course at University of the Arts Berlin. Together with the students, we work on a book about the University’s illustration class, and I teach writing techniques. Mark your calendars: The „UdK Rundgang“ is on July 22–24.

Also: You can still sign up for my one-week writing workshop Writing = Design together with Sonja Knecht from August 8–12, 2022, in Berlin. I’m already excited for it, it’s going to be fun!

On the blog: I’ve been listening to OTTO, Belle & Sebastian and Charli XCX a lot, I wrote about the annoyance of queues in Berlin, and about weird drinking glasses.

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Ok. That was a lot, take some deep breaths now. Six months of stuff, but I’ll let you go enjoy the sunny weather now. I hope you’re all well, savoring summer, soaking up the sun!

(If you enjoy content like this: I send it out as an irregular newsletter called Christel’s CornerSign up for it here.)