CHCstories: MOB Barcelona

CHCstories: MOB Barcelona

Our Erasmus Plus project Our Memories and I brought us to Barcelona this September and it was a perfect opportunity to get a glimpse at the amazing space and story hidden behind the name MOB.

There are two MOB coworking spaces in Barcelona and we’ve got a chance to visit the MOB BLN, located at Carrer Bailèn, just a short walk from the hectic city centre filled with many tourists. Even from the street, the story of MOB starts to unravel; you will see a café leading to coworking spaces. But this is no usual coffee place, don’t be fooled; here you can have a sip of your favourite beverage while waiting for your idea to be molded in 3D print or cut with laser cutter.

When the whole MOB story started in 2011., there were only three coworking spaces in Barcelona. Now, the situation completely changed; with over three hundred different coworking spaces, the competition is much more serious and bigger. One of the MOB co-founders, Cecilia Tham, was in a search of something to do in Barcelona. Exploring YouTube videos and self-educating, she realized that there is no suitable place to work with others, and that was the first impulse in creating such space.

Located in the industrial part of Barcelona, in the former textile factory, the place was named Makers of Barcelona and the name was the best description of their activity; making anything. But soon they came to realization that maker and creativity part of this equation don’t go together; makers are noisy, and creators often need silence for their creative processes.

Their story continued spreading in 2013, when they opened the first FabCafe in Barcelona. It is a concept that came together in Japan, under the name FabLab Japan, in the spring of 2010. and spread around as FabCafe,  a “digital fabrication cafe”, but also a “local design community” and “global business network”. The idea is this: by providing a variety of digital fabrication tools, including laser cutters and 3D printers, visitors are able to bring their digital data to life, all while enjoying their cup of delicious artisan coffee.

“We want to let people explore and help them through the process”, our host tells us as she explains that people who wish to create something with one of their five 3D printers or laser cutter, can use the machines and pay by the minute or gram. They also offer different classes, some of which are free, but most of them (especially the one concerning 3D modeling and molds) are very cheap, following the idea that people should learn about technology.

People using the printers are raging from kids to older people, but the most unique story is the one of a 97 year old man and his broken glasses; his grandson used FabCafe’s 3D printer to make the new ones that fit perfectly.

The philosophy of MOB is focused on technology, design and sustainability, and the way they act in community is based on three pillars; Academy, Coworking and Agency. The Academy pillar builds on the principle that one never stops learning; in the MOB community you can be a teacher, as well as a student. MOB offers different classes and workshops, organizes intensive sessions such as hackathons and makerthons, as well as intensive bootcamps. The Coworking pillar, as the name suggests, focuses on building a creative community, fostering collaboration, innovation and entrepreneurship. The third pillar, Agency, is focused on helping you make your ideas a reality, put in the most simple words.  Agency intermediates between community (client) and coworking people – a “win-win” situation for both sides, client and coworkers.

MOB offers desks, meeting rooms, living room areas, conference hall, kitchen, Skype rooms for all your working needs. “Coworking is a bit of a grey area when it comes to legal stuff, but being in this grey area can be good, especially since you don’t have a lot of choice”, our host tells us and explaines that the MOB is legally a company and the place that they use is a space rented from private owner. The other MOB place shares the same philosophy, but with the one small detail being different; MOB PAU was formerly a school, so you can enjoy in the outside courtyard there. “But we have roasted coffee!” our host exclaims in laughter and, we must admit, makes a good point. It is a really good cup of coffee, don’t miss it on your next trip to Barcelona.

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