Today BERG Cloud (Formerly BERG, formerly Schulze and Webb) announced it was shutting shop. I spent about 2 years all together working for or with BERG, so I wanted to share some thoughts on my time there. All of this is purely from my point of view, is not official, and I am certain the others would have differing opinions.
I never went to university, but after working with BERG on Mag+ my interest in interaction design grew. I nearly applied for the Copenhagen Institute of Interaction Design but when BERG offered me a full time position, my recurring theme of choosing experience over formal education got the better of me. And it was not a mistake.
To describe a company as a family is incredibly cheesy, but of everywhere I’ve worked it applies most to BERG. My favourite times were definitely on Scrutton Street, when the 13 (or there about) of us were squeezed into an office far too small for us. We had an airport express that anyone could play tunes on, and only one conversation could really happen at once. Of course there were times we would rub each other the wrong way, but one thing that never wavered was the immense respect I had for everyone.
This enabled us to work in a way I’ve never seen anywhere else, and what I half-jokingly dubbed ‘emotion driven development’. If Kanban is the more fluid state of a trusted and able team compared to scrum, then what we had was a step beyond that. We trusted in our own, and importantly each others, strong opinions and (this sounds cheesy again) feelings to drive us forward. This is probably a fragile and unscalable way of working, but without it, I think much of the work would be very different, and BERG wouldn’t have attracted the attention it did. We worked in a different way, and the work was often different because of it.
BERG had an interesting cult following. It certainly punched way above its weight in the design world for such a small company. It was able to create work that turned the heads of both the industry and mass audiences alike. One thing I was always impressed with was how easily new aesthetics were created, something that others spend entire careers developing was almost effortless to my colleagues. Making Future Magic (a project I had nothing to do with) perhaps most exemplifies this.
I am now focusing on working in the public sector, and I went into much detail as to why, but I will always miss my time at BERG. For me it will always feel like my university time; a time to spend learning and experimenting on what we found interesting with very few constraints.
For a group of people who were professionals on thinking about “what’s next”, I think we’re a bit knocked back as we truly don’t know what’s next. It’s an interesting (and scary in a very high up Maslow’s hierarchy kind of way) time. BERG was a major part of East London’s tech culture, and its demise is another blow to it. I imagine there are plenty of people wondering where their friends are going next. I know I am.