Issue 11

POINT,

PURPOSE

&
PASSION

 

Carsten & Samuel Waldeck

Photos by Jérome Gerull Words by Sabine Magnet

SHIFT
PHONES

Brothers Carsten and Samuel Waldeck developed the first German smartphone. Their company, SHIFT, has been producing mobile phones, tablets and notebooks since 2014, while also raising the bar for technology, sustainability and social justice.

 

Just before our video meeting is due to start, Carsten and Samuel receive a package: the first delivery of the SHIFT13mi. The detachable notebook is the latest development by SHIFT, the company founded and run by the brothers. Like all SHIFT devices, SHIFT13mi has a modular design, with all main parts easy to remove and replace. Carsten Waldeck proudly shows off the detachable notebook in front of the camera.

Congratulations!

 

C

W

It’s really exciting because this is our very first product in this category. It’s a fully modular detachable notebook. We put so much care and time into the development—and the design, because that was always what annoyed me so much about pretty much all laptops.

What annoyed you so much?

 

C

W

The edges are often poorly designed in graphic terms; the screen edges at the top, bottom and sides have different widths and don’t blend with the keyboard. Awful, awful design. I always hated it. From our point of view, the SHIFT13mi is the first notebook with a completely harmonious graphic design; all the lines are brought together to form a unified whole.

Design plays a central role for both of you. Carsten, you studied design, communication design and IT, and Samuel, you’re a media designer. What aspects of design are important to you?

 

C

W

Dieter Rams drew up ten rules of good design; they include aesthetics, but they also specify making durable, sustainable and repair­able objects. We see so many products that violate those rules of good design. With SHIFT, we pay attention to creating attractive devices, but we also prioritise function and sustainability.

From camera crane to smartphone is quite a leap. How did that come about?

 

S

W

Our original aim was to follow up from the iCrane by building a field monitor for reviewing camera footage. We wanted to make a device that was as universal and versatile as possible, and the more we thought that idea through, the closer we came to a smartphone. Strictly speaking, our first device was actually a phablet–a tablet that can also make phone calls.

It all started with a cleaning cloth for computers, screens and keyboards. After graduating in 1999, Carsten Waldeck began to develop and sell the iSaver cloth and other Apple accessories. When the friend who helped them run their operations had to leave for family reasons, Carsten’s brother Samuel and father Rolf stepped up and launched the company iStuff. New ideas followed. In 2012, just as crowdfunding was breaking in Germany, the brothers developed a crane for lightweight cameras and posted their idea on the Startnext platform; iCrane became the most successful crowdfunding project at the time in ­German-speaking countries.

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