Here: Basic Income Café → Inspired by the Swiss vote on an unconditional basic income in 2016 and the subsequent discussions, research designer Martina Huynh reflected on how she could contribute to the debate. Her aim was not to convince others, but rather to open up a space where the discussion could escape from the typical ruts, and provide a common experience as a discursive basis. Huynh decided to set up a café and designed two ‘tables’, each providing a different system for obtaining a second coffee, based on two different economic models of the basic income. Avoiding from the outset the vexed pro/con discussion, the coffee flow illustrated the different intents and incentives the models are based on. In this way, Huynh opens up a more general discussion about the kind of alternative economies visitors would find desirable.
There: Situating the discussion → The Basic Income Café makes complex models developed by experts available through a playful interactive format. The various steps of drinking, relaxing, cleaning, grinding the coffee, making the coffee, and feeding the sculpture, were used to build the metaphor of the economic mode, thus making broader relationships available through personal experience. This in turn enriches the daily discussion about what economies people want, and what these mean. Martina Huynh set up a first prototype for her BA Diploma in Eindhoven, before opening a public Café in The Hague for three months. During opening hours an assistant would always be on site to host the process and introduce the metaphor of the coffee flow to open the discussion, leading half-structured interviews. As such, the Café becomes a tool for research, producing first-hand empirical data that are further transcribed, analysed and made available on the dedicated website basicincomecafe.com.
Everywhere: Generating knowledge → This is of course just the beginning of the discussions, and Huynh plans to further develop the Café, implementing further variables in the loops. The website keeps track of the pop-up café and the progress of the discussion, thus generating knowledge on a central topic for our society. Basic Income Café was honoured with the Dutch Design Award in Design Research and has been presented many times, for example at the Antenna Conference 2018. As part of the design duo Cream on Chrome together with Jonas Althaus, Martina Huynh is currently supported by the FORMAT programme by Z33, Belgium, and they received the Talent Development Grant from the Creative Industries Fund NL.
Martina Huynh → (*1992), Based in Rotterdam, www.martinahuynh.com
Education → BA in Man & Communication, Design Academy Eindhoven
Project(s) → Basic Income Café, 2019