YASIN MÜJDECI: NOSTALGIC FUTURIST
With an uncanny capacity for knowing what people want before they want it, Yasin Müjdeci established two of the most attractive Kreuzberg locations for creative Berlin residents and visitors alike: Voo Store and café Luzia. The soft-spoken entrepreneur talks about the value of true handcraft and his complicated relationship to technology.
Five words that best describe you and what you do?
Utopian, nostalgic, dreamy, realist, and contradictory.
Can you identify a common thread in the work you do, a theme that ties the different projects together?
I’m about seeing new things and bringing this to people. My background is in political science and I feel this overlaps with what I do now. Political science is a lot of sociology, which in turn is about studying people and trying to understand them. If you understand people well, you also know what they need. But mostly I’m forever curious, wanting to understand and try out new things. Many of the ventures I have been involved with, establishing this shop [Voo] or the role as producer of my brother’s film were things I had no experience in, but that I took on as opportunities to explore and learn. Fashion week, a film festival or gastronomy are completely different worlds – that’s what I enjoy.
In conversation at the Voo Store café, Companion Coffee.
How important is handcraft in your work?
I’m not so into the label ‘handmade’, which I feel is misused a lot to make things more expensive – “handmade” can still mean made under terrible conditions. The point is really “Made with love”, which I know sounds a bit corny but here no machine can compete. Man is a thinking and feeling creature. The way a craftsman will judge how much pressure to use or measure an angle with the eye while shaping… a pair of glasses for example [winks] – this leaves a feeling behind and creates immeasurable value in the product.
How important is technology in your work? Do you pay attention to developments? Has a technological advancement ever inspired something new in your work?
I would rather have little to do with it, but it is incredibly important for me actually. Everything must move faster and faster and though it is hard work for me, I also have to keep up. I don’t know how many updates I’ve been through with our cashier system or the way we run our online store. I met an IT professional recently who just couldn’t understand how I knew so much about a certain field just from running a store. I didn’t know what to tell him. I have to know – unfortunately (laughs). This is my relationship with technology – I don’t want to but I have to. Of course it enables new things, but it destroys some things in the process too. When you’re a nostalgic person like I am.
What does minimalism mean to you – would you describe your work as minimalist?
In our time minimalism has become so important, because there is too much. People have a need for things to be simpler, clearer. The Internet multiplies every thing, we receive so many messages, so much information and at least when it comes to our clothes or our home we want to see less. Otherwise our minds just can’t keep up. For me this is definitely the case, I get so many messages and information every second and I can’t change this but I can control what I surround myself with.
Is there anything in your life that is ‘maximalist’?
This is my maximalism [points at phone]. We are doing so much actually. We can’t see it, but we feel it. Two hundred years ago when many things were still made with so much detail people were not bombarded with information constantly. You could read books, meet up to have a conversation with three, four people, that was pretty much all. Today we are communicating with a thousand people at one time.
The Voo Store interior.
Do you have an impulse to ‘reinvent’ the things around you?
There are people with a more advanced visual sense than I have, but what I’ve learned about myself is that I’m good at balancing what people want – many artists or designers fail by doing things that people don’t understand and it may be something great, but no one gets it. I’m good at seeing what will work and what won’t. I often have discussions with designers: take a shirt for example, it exists for thousands of years yet I’m regularly confronted with people who think they invented it by changing so many details that it becomes unrecognisable. But no one understands it and the designer despairs because it doesn’t sell and they can’t understand why. I say give the people a beautiful shirt with a special detail that makes it into an artful piece but don’t change the shirt into something completely different. Of course it’s about finding that balance, you don’t want something that is too commercial, that everyone wants or understands – that’s not interesting either.