Berlin Lab

The Marathon of Makers

There are certain twenty-first-century social graces I have yet to learn. One of them is how to live tweet without looking like one of those annoying people who ignore reality around them by always staring at their iPhones.

I realized this about myself at the opening of the Lab on Friday, but I think it was worth putting my pro-social reputation on the line. There was so much fun and amazing stuff going on around me that I couldn’t help but constantly take pictures and videos to share.

José Gómez-Márquez is the first Lab Team member on deck to direct the Lab’s programs. As his focus is on enabling everyday citizens with technology to hack the city and make their own solutions to day-to-day problems, he decided to kick off his week-and-a-half of programming with a massive marathon of making. To help infect visitors with the DIY bug, he invited makers from all over Berlin, as well as some of the MIT students that are part of the Lab’s Engineering Genius Bar, to just hang out and do their thing, and teach anyone who wanted to learn to do it, too.

The result was kind of like being transported to the space age and the Stone Age at exactly the same time: a poetic mixture of old-school and everyday things jacked up on fabulous, hyper-tech geekery, and high-tech things made analog for the Everyman.

Here are a few photos and videos for those who couldn’t make it:


Handmaking bicycle seat covers, bags, and more with the ladies from Frau Tulpe.

MIT Engineering Geniuses hard at work.

As both a musician and a fruit lover, this was probably the most fun I had all day: learning to play a banana piano that was made using a make-the-world-your-keyboard product from a group called MaKey MaKey. The bananas, and an apple that served to complete the circuit, were connected to a board that turned each of the bananas into a piano key. Apparently it works with almost anything, not just bananas, and apparently eight-year-olds can do it. Safely. I’m not smart enough to tell you exactly how it works, but the girl in the video is, so listen to her.

Upcycling old recycled paper into prettier paper with Trial and Error.

A bring-anywhere loom with Etsy.

Onyx Ashanti showed me how his insane, 3D-printed, motion-reading beatjazz controller works. Here’s a video for those who didn’t see his TED Talk).

A mantra to live by, courtesy of Hartz IV Möbel’s Van Bo Le-Mentzel.

And finally, a brief, visual public-service announcement from those who are here to remind us that we don’t need much to hack the city and make it ours. For some, it is simply the most natural thing to do.