Hey! Nice to meet you. We want to create The Playroom, a place dedicated to learning about, playing with, and sharing the incredible history of electronic music instruments!
The Playroom will be a beautiful open space created for people to take advantage of the huge SMEM (Swiss Museum & Center for Electronic Music Instruments) collection. Here we’ll also host lectures, workshops, classes, and more. And for a hands-on experience, The Playroom can be rented for private recordings, events, and parties.
We believe that the best way to share such an unparalleled collection is through experiencing it firsthand.
In fact, many local and international musicians like Yello, Sophie Hunger, Hinako Omori, Timber Timbre, Legowelt, Alienata, Franz Treichler from the Young Gods and more have already visited our collection. They have all agreed with our approach: the collection has to be usable. That’s why we need The Playroom.
Why a Kickstarter?
The SMEM was founded as a non-profit organization in late 2016, and has already successfully raised funds for more than 5000 synths, effects, and organsynths for our collection.
Now, we are asking for your help to cover the costs of creating The Playroom.
If step one is to showcase our vast collection by making it accessible to everyone, then step two is where the magic happens: letting people play with it.
The Playroom will be an accessible studio bringing the SMEM’s living heritage to a broad audience of musicians, students, performers, kids, and grown-ups.
If our Kickstarter is successful, we will open a beta version of The Playroom on the 1st of October 2018, and be fully open to the public in November.
The funding will allow us to build the infrastructure of The Playroom, and set up the space to run it. The infrastructure will consist of wooden and modular workspaces in order to have the best hosting conditions possible.
We first have to bear the installation costs: connectivity, lighting, security, electricity, etc… This implies substantial startup funding—in part due to the high cost of living in Switzerland, but also due to the quality we’re demanding.
In return, it will allow for incredible, unique experiences for years to come.
A social project
Of course, musicians will come to The Playroom to play and record the instruments. But The Playroom will also offer another exciting aspect—community.
People will meet for a drink, chat over a book, look out the window, take a class, participate in exciting workshops and lectures, and young musicians will be able to use instruments they would otherwise never have access to. Creations will emerge.
These reasons and many others are what push us to make The Playroom happen, and share even more of the SMEM’s fabulous collection.
A space full of history
The "Blue Factory" site in Fribourg, Switzerland was once used for brewing and bottling a beer named “Cardinal”. However, the company had to leave the premises. The SMEM team thought it would make sense for The Playroom to be based here, so users will be playing instruments that are also loaded with history.
Who is the project leader?
The SMEM team itself! The SMEM center is managed by a team of music and electronics enthusiasts, mainly volunteers.
The backbone of the collection was provided by Klemens Niklaus Trenkle, a collector from Basel,who donated the collection to the association in order to develop it.
Will the use of the playroom be free?
It would be impossible for The Playroom to last for more than 6 months if we offered free admission.
However, the SMEM has, at heart, the wish to offer reasonable and appropriate rates. As an non-profit organization, our association will give all the benefits back to its users—either in the form of a price reduction, or in the improvement of The Playroom's condition. For its most frequent users, subscriptions will allow access at a preferential rate. Also, because we know that the cost of living in Switzerland is high, we have tried to keep the prices as low as possible; thereby ensuring that people from abroad can afford to come.
Will I receive guidance when using the playroom?
Yes. A trained student, who is passionate about synthesizers, will constantly be present in The Playroom to guide potential novices in the use of these instruments. But if you wish to play on your own, that will obviously be possible as well.
Which synthesizers and effects will be in the playroom?
Good question! The gear on display will be subject to regular changes. The complete list of instruments that can be used in The Playroom will be available on our website.
The definitive list of instruments present for the first session is not yet defined (most likely vintage synths and modular stuff!). To be honest, we don't really know yet... but don't you worry, it will be like nothing you’ve ever seen, and will feature the kind of instruments that not many people have at home.
Workshops, talks, showcases, schools
The SMEM team will set up several workshops, talks and showcases each year; all of them spread across the collection and The Playroom. The SMEM is open for all, as it strives to be a place of experimentation, curiosity, and transmission of knowledge. We want not only for these events to be focused on the collection, but also to be inside a place with a bright, inspiring future.
Opening hours will depend on demand. We will start with 8 hours per week. However, we are always able to extend the opening hours in case of higher demand or for special occasions such as residencies.
Our manufacturers partners
They talk about us
The SMEM and The Playroom’s concept, actualization, and project management wouldn’t be possible without some amazing partners. We’d like to give a special thanks to Marta @ Erica Synths who sent us a beautiful system that will occupy the playroom; Olivier Gillet @ Mutable Instruments who sent us a system that will be in the playroom as well; Roy Nilsson @ Teenage Engineering; Mike Hein @ Moog Music; Thomas & Andy @ PEK and everybody @ SMEM who dreamed this place.
We also need to thank the award-winning Hinderling Volkart agency, (MuDA website designers, Lufthansa, etc.), who are developing our main website and Take Off Productions for the aerial views.
We hope to continue to form great partnerships with companies and individuals in the industry who share our passions!
Risks and challenges
With a highly qualified team, we don’t foresee any major risks with The Playroom. Our modular construction allows The Playroom to move to different locations, but of course, delays in the actual construction are always possible! Through this campaign page, we’ll be sure to keep everyone updated on our progress.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
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