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second hand furniture

When second-hand office design becomes trendy and useful: the Engelnest case

How many times did you consider getting rid of pieces of furniture in your flat to free the space for new decor?   

Have you ever thought that the wooden box in your kitchen could fit better as a book-shelf in your bedroom?

We love reusing and finding new creative purposes to old things. And so our friends from Engelnest do. As a newly launched coworking space, Engelnest represents an enjoyable example of young creative space adopting sustainable circular practices. 

We, at Zero Waste Berlin Festival, met the founders of Engelnest for a nice chat about their project, goals, visions and their green approach.

Q: Hi! Who are you? What do you do and what is your position in the company?

A: We founded Engelnest together with my brother Ferhat Engel – he has been a mechanical engineer for the last 10 years working as a project consultant for different companies. Me, Asli Engel, I’m the other co-founder, and my background is in the media industry: I have my own production company specialized in documentaries and company promo videos. 

We are on the opposite ends of the corporate spectrum; creativity and marketing vs. engineering and planning, but I believe this really helps in Engelnest’s growth and also is good for our members. As entrepreneurs they really need both of these dimensions to excel.

The third member of Engelnest’s team is Daniela Sanhueza, our Communications Manager. She takes care of our marketing and social media, our community, and supports our events and daily tasks at the space. 

Q: What is Engelnest?

A: Engelnest is a family-owned coworking space born from the idea to give the people from Schöneberg a proper space to work and create, with a more ambitious goal of being a place and nexus for developing projects that aim for a more sustainable neighborhood and city. 

Q: How was the concept of Engelnest born? 

A: We certainly have an interesting story, as Engelnest’s building used to be our father’s pallet factory since 1983. With the expansion of Berlin, the factory remained right at the heart of the city – only two minutes by car to Sudkreuz S-Bahn station in Schöneberg. We thought it would be a perfect spot for a co-working space, so we pressured our dad to move the factory to the outer city… In a way, we kicked out our dad 🙂 

Q: Part of the identity of Engelnest is the pallets. Can you tell us what is the story behind and how you integrate them into your space? How do you give a second life to pallets?

A: Since we had so much stock of the now trendy pallets because of our father’s company, we thought it would be the perfect start to build our furniture, and they became our main furniture group by forming tables, desks, standing desks, and seats. Is funny as sometimes people that visit the space end up asking for the pallet’s prices and checking how our furniture is made. 

Q: Visiting Engelnest, one of the things you can see is the variety of furniture and different styles, and all because you are using second-hand furniture. Tell us about the process of filling a whole office with second-hand furniture.

We started with pallets as they were immediately available for us, but then added many second-hand items as the opportunity of having good-state pieces arose (and for a much more affordable price) while browsing on Ebay-kleinanzeigen. Some of our furniture belonged to other offices that shut down, to old restaurants, others from flea markets or things we have found in my father’s warehouse. Some are dating as old as 1920, and we even have Berlin’s telephone booths from the 70’s! The whole design reflects the entrepreneurship spirit, sustainability with a little bit of Berlin creativity while creating an eclectic but also cozy look. 

Q: What is the reaction of the people when they know the whole office is furnished with second-hand items?

Everyone loves our style, and some think we worked with professional interior designers, which was definitely not the case. Most people love the fact that our furniture and objects are second-hand, as that way you are not creating a bigger demand for products, which is one of the many reasons for the climate crisis. Also, members and visitors always mention how comfortable and relaxed they feel by working here, and that’s probably a consequence of the warm vibrance our decoration exudes. 

Q: Apart from the furniture what other areas of sustainability do you focus on?

A: Besides those, we are working on building up our community with our current members and external people interested, with alliances as Zero Waste Berlin Festival, and by bringing sustainable or social-oriented companies into our space. We also share in our social media channels some informative content regarding those fields, hosted one Swap-Party during summer, and all the beverages we provide in our space are all local brands with our same values as Ostmost and Quartiermeister. 

Q: What is your vision in the long term to develop a sustainable concept? 

A: Community building and supporting the growth of our neighborhood and its people, in times where Berlin is suffering more and more the effects of globalization. That’s why each one of our members is an important piece of the puzzle, and we are happy to support their enterprises, development, or even studies by providing the facilities for them to focus on what they do. 

Creativity and innovation are our common values for sustainability, which have been highly supported by the recent incorporation of Infralab Berlin into Engelnest during September. Their whole office moved here, and they are a leading player in Berlin which goal is to provide guidance and support on the implementation of Smart City projects, with close cooperation with politics, industry, and science. 

They have been hosting hackathons the previous years, and this year’s version was held in Engelnest last month. We really want to support them and any other party to put these topics (sustainability, zero waste and smart city among others) more in the spotlight.

Last words you want to include? 

A: Just mentioning we are very happy and proud to partner up with Zero Waste, and we are looking forward to hosting more events together in the future and bring more and new people into them to spread the word and emphasize the importance of the matter. Also inviting individuals, collective or enterprises who feel that click with our vision, to visit us and maybe work together. Community is power!