Synth-makers Koma Elektronik have announced the opening of Common Ground, their new electronics maker lab, community workspace, and storefront for synthesizer-lovers, modular geeks, coders, DIY hackers, and “nerds in general.”
Based in the Neukölln neighborhood in Berlin, Koma Elektronik have been building audio effects, synth modules, sequencers and other music-making machines for the past five years. The company has hosted a monthly drop-in repair and meetup session for a long time, but the previous Koma workspace was smaller and secluded, less well-suited for co-working and socializing.
The company hopes the new Common Ground space will help Koma share their love of DIY culture, electronics, and electronic music with the world.
Koma Elektronik founder Wouter Jaspers further explains the inspiration for creating Common Ground in a recent intro video: “The idea about this place was community, about coming together, meeting people — to do stuff. That’s why we also organize lessons and workshops here for instance about analog synthesis, how to make my own product, how to solder, how does measuring equipment actually work, … about experimental music.”
“Common Ground is a place where people interested in electronics and electronic music can come together, build together, and learn together. Our team and Werkstatt offer a place where everyone from beginners to seasoned pros can realize their visions and complete their most daring projects. We believe that by doing it yourself, you will better understand how electronic machines work and how you can use them.”
The newly-open Common Ground space has a retail shop in the front with new and used synths, DIY synth kits, Koma products, Arduino stuff – “everything for modern music makers,” says Jaspers. There’s also a wall of Koma prototypes, and they sell non-synthesizer kits, like DIY game kits, and analog tapes from Koma’s AMOK label. There is even a loft above the sales counter that they are calling the “schnapps deck” that has a small lounge area and a dispenser for, yes, shots of liqueur. (In the Common Space tour video, Wouter takes a shot, makes a very funny face, and says, “It’s three o’clock in the afternoon – I’m not used to this.”)
At Common Ground, visitors can rent a desk to work on their own project “in a professional environment with industry-standard equipment;” buy a kit at the counter and build it on site; attend workshops; see performances and discuss with makers of all backgrounds about their craft. An adjacent machine room, offers makers an opportunity to rent time on a drill-press, CNC machine, SMD soldering reflow oven, or 3D printer.
Koma Elektronik have made a half-hour video walking tour of the Neukölln Berlin neighborhood, with a close look at the Common Ground shop and maker space, and concludes with a short walk to Templehof, the former Berlin Airport (and site of the massive Allied airlift during the Cold War), which has been a massive public park and gathering space since 2008. It’s worth watching the whole thing: