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Author: Martin Fenske



Through getting in touch with life in Kangemi and additional research, ecologic, economic and social interconnectedness and responsibility became more obvious for me. It felt natural to work with free materials and think in objects that could be made by up-cycling existing products.
Further i had the idea to create a design that could be re-created in a do-it-yourself version by the people in Kangemi using also just simple tools and techniques.
Already in an early stage of our team work we were making use of freely available glass objects like screw top jars, glass bottles and light bulbs.
Even though the direction of our work changed throughout the process, i stayed fascinated by the material of glass and how relatively easy already existing shapes could be divided and transformed into something new.

SHIFT is a tea and coffee maker that consists of just five simple parts and is basically made out of a one liter milk bottle. The bottle is cut in two, the upper part turned around to serve as a funnel. The bottle top is made use of as a part of the filter system. It is drilled through and gives hold to the stainless steel wire frame piece that filters tea and coffee. The outsides of the glass are sandblasted to get a milky semitransparent surface and create more grip for the hand.

My first attempts of making a coffee maker from a wine bottle included having to use a conventional paper coffee filter each time. This part i replaced through a filter system that does not constantly produce additional waste. The integration into the bottle top also opened up the possibility of making tea.


Either one can put the upper bottle part reversed into the lower part, add tea and hot water and let the tea steep in there. Or one can use the connection ring made from cork to create distance and let the freshly brewed coffee drip through the filter into the bottles bottom that serves as a drinking glass. SHIFT is also perfect for making cold drip coffee.

My process of developing SHIFT included getting familiar with different ways of cutting glas bottles. Through many tries and errors i learned about the peculiarities of this material being in particular shapes. I tried to develop the most effective combination of techniques and execution, staying in a frame of simplicity, to get the best results in the processing and shared my learnings in the form of a manual with the Love School kids.

In the DIY version the bottle gets scored in the right place with a simple glass cutter and a self build device to hold the bottle and the cutter in place. Then thebottle gets split using thermal stress on the score that causes the glass
to crack. The edges get sanded with sand paper. Instead of cork a ring made out
of ropes from the Ropery project of Louis Bindernagel suits as a connector. A
piece of cotton cloth works very well as a filter instead of a wire frame.

Bottle Cutting

I kept on working with the upcycable material of glas bottles which is available here as well as in Kangemi. Instead of trying to force a solution on how to improve candle light i got familiar with the work with glas in form of bottles. I wanted to encounter this material and pre-product for my purposes and create dishes, lamps or whatever would make sense after i found out which shapes are possible to get out of it.

Bottle scoring device – I build this to score the glas and “tell it” where to break when i used thermal stress afterwards, alternating heating up the area around the mark and cooling it down rapidly



    Drillings and cut outs




Integration of Parameters?

In order to integrate the found out parameters i started cutting bottles to generate more shapes in which water and a level holding candle could be integrated in a simple way that could be reproduced by Stacy and Kevin as well.



It turned out the simple way could not be found. More and more problems showed up that i could only find complicated solutions for.


Focused Light

Light Bulb Reuse

We found out that round shaped glas filled with water focuses the light.

In order to get perfect and cheap glas hemispheres we reused old light bulbs.


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Light Bulb Experiments


Bulb Experiments Stacy and Kevin, Kangemi




Bulb Experiments Martin, Berlin


Experimenting with the water filled light bulbs we found out that

  • the distance between the bulb and the flame
  • and the angle between the two of them

determine the size and point of appearance of the light focus.



     Distance and angle adjustment



Early Mockup of a candle driven lamp


    Mockup of a level holding candle in order to keep the angle to the bulb fixed once adjusted




Starting Point and First Investigations

Starting Point

Many people in Kangemi use candles and
cerosene lamps as a substitude for electric light.

Candles have a warm light color that is pleasantburning-candle
for the eyes but the light is diffuse which makes it hard
to work or read at it.

My original attempt was to experiment together with Stacy and Kevin on ways of improving the light of candles in order to be able to build a lamp, driven by a candle, that could given an improved light when for example reading in the evening.




First Investigations

We started off with first experiments on the change of light in combination with different transparent and reflective materials and water.

For that the kids were supposed to collect materials as glas containers, bottles, can, metal foil and others that they could find around the area of Love School.


Light Experiments Martin, Berlin

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Light Experiments Stacy and Kevin, Kangemi

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