Making something has always been an intersection of ideas and hard work. With this in mind Happylab, a co-making space that originated in Wien, has recently opened its doors to prospective makers and creatives in Berlin in a space nearby the aptly-named Voltastrasse.
The idea is that anyone – from a fascinated hobbyist to a student working on an architectural model to a creative start-up – can rent and utilize the space and equipment offered by Happylab to craft and materialise their ideas.
What equipment exactly? Happylab offers a range of digital production machines such as 3D printers, laser cutters, CNC milling machines and cutting plotters. Anyone is able to take advantage of these machines to help realise their own projects. For those without the required technical savvy, free workshops are on offer every Wednesday to teach any interested party how to use these machines.
I spoke with founders Karim Jafarmadar and Roland Stelzer to find out about what they hope to achieve with Happylab in Berlin.
What was the driving force behind creating Happylab?
When we started Happylab back in 2006 we were both tinkerers ourselves and worked on different robotics projects. We found it very hard to get access to the infrastructure we needed, so we invested in our own CNC milling machine and other digital fabrication tools. Soon people from different professional backgrounds approached us, as they needed these tools for their own projects as well. So we decided to open our workspace to the public and help people realize their ideas.
Do you find that you cater more to students, or rather start-ups and other designers who lack the tools to work on their products?
It’s really important to us that Happylab is an open workshop for everyone. You don’t need any prior knowledge or a specific background to use our machines and tools. At Happylab students, designers, start-ups, architects, engineers, entrepreneurs, inventors and makers, who just want to create customized gifts for their friends, all work side by side. Sometimes this can lead to interesting collaborations and new thrilling ideas.
Do you find that there is more demand for having co-working spaces and affordable tool use in Berlin as opposed to Salzburg and Wien?
Our experience in Salzburg and Wien in the last few years showed us that makerspaces like Happylab enrich communities in every city. We currently have about 2,000 members who use the infrastructure in our two Happylab locations in Salzburg and Wien. As Berlin has a lot of creative minds, who need co-working spaces – or what we like to call “co-making spaces” – to bring their ideas to life, we think Berlin and Happylab are a perfect match!
Do you feel that this sort of open-source, economy-sharing platform lends itself well to workshops? What has your experience in this been?
Our experience with digital fabrication showed us that open source, which has been a common practice within the field of software for a few decades, now plays an important role in the field of hardware as well. People not only share the same tools, but also their ideas. This triggers an innovation dynamic, in which everyone can build on ideas and projects initiated by others and further develop them.
What do you think you can offer Berlin and what do you expect to see in future?
Happylab Berlin offers an easy and low-threshold access to the world of digital fabrication. We want to show people that using a 3D printer or a Laser Cutter is not difficult at all and that they can learn all the important steps in one of our free training courses within one hour. We’re excited to see and hear about all the cool projects that will be realized at Happylab Berlin in the future!
What types of industries do you see making use of Happylab in Berlin, and how can you help facilitate their visions?
The people who became members at Happylab Berlin within the first few days come from different backgrounds: there are a lot of students among them, but also artists, designers, engineers or simply people who are interested to see how our digital fabrication tools work. The first step to help them is to find out together, which machine is best suited for their project. A lot of people come to Happylab eager to realize their project with our 3D printer, but soon discover that the laser cutter is a much better option.
When it comes to membership options, you have three packages (four, if you include the add-on). What benefits do you get from taking the largest package?
Choosing the Happylab membership that best suits your needs depends on when and how often you want to use our infrastructure. The largest package – our Happylab Large membership – gives you 24/7 access to Happylab and all its machines and tools. So it’s possible for you to use them at night or on the weekends. This especially comes in handy for people who have a nine-to-five job or simply work better at night.
Can you explain your open nights to us? Is there a demonstration of the machines?
Our “Open Lab” nights every Wednesday evening start at 7pm with a guided tour through Happylab Berlin. This tour is especially recommended for everyone who is visiting Happylab for the first time and wants to get an overview of our machines and the possibilities they offer. At 8pm there is a free training course on one of our machines, in which we explain step-by-step how to use the machines to realize your own projects. After that you’re all set and ready to make things!
Find out more about Happylab on their website: http://happylab.de/
Demminer Straße 3
+49 30 30807863