Human Hotel x Techfestival
Amazing humans should meet: Human Hotel share their story about how they came to be and why they are a part of this year’s Techfestival
“We thought our project went really well, despite the fact that the COP15 was a failure.”
In 2009, when the Copenhagen Climate Summit drew the whole world’s attention to Denmark, Will Rawlings and Sixten Nielsen eyed an opportunity. Wooloo.org, the social network for artists that they had started seven years earlier (ahead of both MySpace and Facebook) and the Wooloo Studio had allowed them to travel the world as professional artists, doing exhibitions, curating festivals and ultimately landing a 1,000,000 DKK grant from the Danish Art Foundation. Upon learning from local climate activists that there was a huge lack of housing for foreign climate protesters ahead of the COP15, Will and Sixten decided to propel all their grant money into a housing campaign.
Around the same time that Airbnb started to draw attention, Will and Sixten’s campaign successfully motivated 3000 Copenhagen locals to sign up to host foreign visitors. The success of their purpose-driven home-sharing proved to be catalytic. Soon after COP15 had ended, requests from organisations around the world started ticking in. “We thought, either we do something about this, or we just forget it,” says Sixten. Whilst Airbnb’s reputation was taking off, Will and Sixten feared their underdeveloped product could soon become redundant. “We had done one tech startup before, so we knew how it worked. We decided that if we had to do another one, now was the time.”
And that was the beginning of Human Hotel. “A straight forward startup,” according to the duo, “but an offspring of everything that came before it.”
In their office today hangs a series of photos. One depicts a Peruvian shaman performing a ritual for Mother Earth. In front of her sits a candle with ‘I love Christmas’ inscribed in Danish, and in the background, with his baby child beside him sits her Danish host. “There is so much to gain when people stay together,” Sixten proclaims. “We like friction that springs from human interaction. It makes things happen, whether it’s creating new ideas or even new attractions.”
Human Hotel sets itself apart from other digital home-sharing communities such as Airbnb and couchsurfing.com, by being a platform solely for those who travel for purpose and not for destination. “You can sum up our art-practice in pretty much one sentence, which is ‘putting people together in new ways and challenge the way we live. This is about making like-hearted humans meet, not about you turning your home into a hotel and then removing yourself. It’s about getting the values out of both the guest and the host and make something happen with it.”
Creating new situations and setting up frameworks for interesting participation have always been core values for Human Hotel. Something they believe they recognise in Techfestival. “We have so much in common in the way we look at the world and the values we share. Also, the entrepreneurs and designers and thinkers visiting the festival, we see those as part of our community.”
The Human Hotel x Techfestival collaboration initiated last year with 25 visitors signing up to stay with local hosts. This year, the human-to-human home-sharing is an even more integrated part of the Techfestival experience. “We’re excited to add this dimension to Techfestival,” says HH, concluding that “amazing people are coming to Copenhagen, and we have amazing people here – and amazing people should meet!”
Sign up to host a like-hearted human and get a free ticket to Techfestival 2019. Go to Participate to find out more.
June 3, 2019