Das Nähcafe

Das Nähcafe // The co-sewing café was developed  as a participatory, community-based research project, located in a small city (population 6000) in South-Germany. The city has a history in textile manufacturing, however today much of the former factory spaces are unused and several revitalization projects have been initiated across industry, the university and communities, financed by the state of Baden-Württemberg. The research context is a real world laboratory (Wagner et al. 2016) aspiring to co-design experiments with all involved stakeholders. One of these experiments is the co-sewing café, established in June 2016 by myself with another researcher in consumer behaviour and a pro-amateur sewer.

Occupying a former 60m2 shop, the co-sewing café contains 10 -12 workstations with refurbished home sewing machines and donated materials for sewing. The program includes 3 hour-long workshops offered bi-weekly over 1.5 years. In each workshop, different sewing suggestions are provided (patterns and examples) for different skill-levels and assistance given to participants with technicalities or advice on material and colour-choices. The co-sewing cafe aims to enhance social interaction between locals of different age and recently migrated refugees. It creates a multicultural and multigenerational meeting place where skills and knowledge can be exchanged and shared in a social environment.

In this project I m working as a design researcher, following a ‘research through design’ methodology (Koskinen et al. 2012). We view the co-sewing café as both an object of design as well as a subject of research. As a research experiment, the activities have been thoroughly documented and, an auto- ethnographic approach has been used to collect and formulate an account of the case.

Several papers have been presented and are under review, reflecting on this 1.5 year project.

Furthermore the project received great media attention. Below a small selection.

Top Magazin Article about the sewing cafe and its Upcycling Workshops.
Südwest Presse über unsere Modenschau bei der Messe: Dietenheim zieht an
Interview mit unserem 92-Jährigen Nähmaschinen-Reparateur
Klamotten Made in Dietenheim – Bericht über die ersten Schritte