The yoghurt ladies of South Korea, and a "creatives" Airbnb that loves friction. Humans in the city, infinitely...


A compendium post on the quirkier ways that humans - lost in a big city, pursuing projects across the world - can softly and creatively make their connections.

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Here is a gentle video from BBC on South Korea’s yoghurt ladies - who are not only selling yoghurt in their own neighbourhoods, but are also performing a necessary social function, maintaining connection with the elderly and others isolated in the urban landscape of Seoul. More here from ABC News in 2018.

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We all know Airbnb, and the complex mix of value and disruption it causes. But as this article on Venice’s Renaissance mismatch between residences and visitors shows, networks of rooms made available to working or creative populations on the move is not a new phenomenon.

Here in Denmark, we’ve come across a “creatives Airbnb” that actually began as an art-project orchestrating artistic encounters, and has become the homesharing service knowns as Human Hotel.

Human Hotel are based primarily in an old chocolate factory in Copenhagen, and they define their function as “providing social sculpture”. Here’s their self-description:

After years of traveling and experimental matching, we launched Human Hotel as a curated home-sharing community for purpose-driven travelers.

Creatives and visionaries have always been the first-movers of urban centers. We were the first to open our homes to the “sharing economy” – which quickly became the same old story of wealth transactions pushing human interactions aside. 

The current sharing economy landscape consists almost entirely of incentives for generating the most cash. It’s certainly economical, but there’s not a lot of sharing involved. 

In fact, the very human meeting at the core of “sharing” is sought removed for the sake of frictionless profits. 

We believe it’s time to turn that upside down, because when you actually care, you don’t mind the friction. On the contrary, new ideas and lasting memories all arise from effort and engagement. 

It’s worth something to personally open the door, when a stranger has traveled from the other side of the planet to live in your home. This is a new story. Human friction is beautiful.

The process seems standard - you identify your location on the map, set your filters for what you want, and then see what the database provides. But you are invited to ask your guests for creative people to meet, and events to see - the friction welcomed above.

Human Hotel’s artistic credentials are strong - they began as Wooloo, a social network for artists that started up well before facebook (see timeline lower down this page, which also shows many of their “social sculpture” experiments - eg 2008’s Fictive Days, where ‘other lives’ were tried out). Their current “social scuplture” service is accessible to those putting on exhibitions and events, and hoping to engineer some stimulating encounters.