skip to page content

MESO coming of age: Applied Irritainment, Geekdom, and New Media

Since our beginning in 1997, MESO has kept evolving and transforming as a collective; yet our initial mission was never subject to change. The transdisciplinary founding partners and their teams set out to tap the potential of digital technology and are still driven by an incessant curiosity and a deep passion in numerous fields.

How it all started

In 1997 MESO started off as a co-working space in Frankfurt am Main.

This common space opened the gates for collaborative work: expertise in music, graphics, objects, electronics, 3D visualization, and software development met a focus on design, with an insatiable curiosity shared by all partners.

At the beginning of MESO, projects for automotive, advertising, and telecommunication industries were realized. A transdisciplinary laboratory was born, working together on shared commercial projects, but also with each member realizing their own artistic visions.

First office at Weserstraße 7, Frankfurt / Germany
Real-time stage set for Mercedes-Benz, 1998
Real-time stage set for Mercedes-Benz, 1998

Projects for 3deluxe, Atelier Markgraph, Mercedes-Benz, Expo 2000, or collaborations with William Forsythe soon followed. With media generally “new” at that time, the borders between commercial and artistic projects were often intentionally left blurry.

What started off as a media design collective grew into a fully functional agency; with a studio that integrated a laboratory, an office, a storage facility, and a workshop.

Fashionscape at Expo 2000
Mohnologfeld by Max Wolf

A strong culture of experimentation and a passion for transdisciplinary approaches was prevalent across all projects and creative endeavors, with each individual member accomplishing their own artistic goals. Constantly bridging new fields and employing new tool and materials has been imperative for all MESO creators.

Fractal Pattern generator adding a motion sensor to a FeTap51 rotary phone
Irritainment applied: playing with common metaphors or changing the semantics of features entirely.

Sidetracks from A–Z

A / FOR ASPEKT1

At around the same time as the MESO office first opened in 1998 (and just one corner away), Aspekt1 started their studio in Kaiserstraße. There Mathias Wollin and Martin Schuster began working on World Wide Web systems for publishers and various other clients. In 2000, Mathias and Martin developed a multi-functional web system for Hochschule für Gestaltung Offenbach as part of their graduate degrees. Many of its foundations are still in operation today and form a core part of the identity of the school.

Start page of hfg-offenbach, 2000
Form Magazine announcing the first german design magazine website, 1997

B / FOR BOOTLEG OBJECTS

Together with Berlin-based designer/artist Markus Bader, Max Wolf produced and published editions of conceptual furniture and boutique electronics.

Rebraun by Max Wolf & Markus Bader

© Dieter Schwer

I / FOR INVOLVING SYSTEMS

From 1995 until 2003, Sebastian Oschatz, Karl Kliem, and Martin Bott worked on speculative interactive audio artworks as Involving Systems, which were showcased all over the world.

Involving Systems, Heavy Rotation Revisor, 2000 © Otto Saxinger
Involving Systems Update 2.7, 1997 © Dieter Schwer

O / for OVAL

In 1991, Sebastian Oschatz, Frank Metzger, and Markus Popp, founded the music project Oval, and pioneered experimental glitch aesthetics with an accessible pop sensibility. The trio released on labels such as Ata Tak, Mille Plateaux, Thrill Jockey, and Rough Trade. After the 1993 debut Wohnton, 1994’s Systemisch, and 1995’s 94 Diskont, Sebastian Oschatz and Frank Metzger left Oval to Markus Popp who continued to develop the group’s approach as a solo artist.

OVAl Wohnton, Ata Tak © Cover: Grösch/Metzger
OVAL Systemisch, Mille Plateaux, Thrill Jockey © Cover: Grösch/Metzger
OVAL 94 Diskont, Mille Plateaux, Thrill Jockey © Cover: Martin Bott

PAUSE 60 seconds of motion graphics

OVAL Wohnton, Arnhem, 1992

© Wiebke Grösch

V / FOR VVVV

In 1998, Max Wolf and Sebastian Oschatz started the development of the visual multi-purpose toolkit vvvv and were later joined by MESO best-boys Sebastian Gregor and Joreg. While MESO has continued to use vvvv to create many innovative projects ever since, vvvv itself is now a software driven by the vvvv group and a strong community. Read more about the history of vvvv here 

Early vvvv splash screen with graphic from Stefan Ammon

Z / FOR Zirkeltraining

Max Wolf and Volker Klag founded the label Zirkeltraining, focusing on design sprints on speculative (and usually whimsical) product concepts in varying team constellations. 

Admin Home Alone, basketry from electric cables
cricket, artificial self-sustaining organisms
Anemona, artificial tentacles.

Etudes & Interludes

By 2003, MESO had not only grown in size but also produced a substantial body of work and gained a reputation for itself well beyond the city borders.

With their first major exhibition at OK Centrum Linz, MESO and Involving Systems presented their works in a retrospective examining the contradictory realities of scene-based critical discourse, fine art, and commercial projects.

Involving Systems Update 2.7 at OK Centrum Linz © Otto Saxinger

The exhibition leads guests into a world of devices and interactively programmed installations to playfully take a close, analytic look at the structures of the individual systems.

Getting serious

Together they moved into the new office at Niddastraße 84 in Frankfurt, Germany. In 2007, MESO Oschatz Wolf GbR restructured as MESO Digital Interiors GmbH. And in 2014, MESO Web Scapes GbR restructured as MESO Digital Services GmbH managed by Mathias Wollin and Martin Schuster.

In Memoriam Martin Schuster

In December 2015 our dear friend, long-term partner and moving mentor Martin Schuster unexpectedly passed away at the age of 44. Abrupt and absolute – this reality hit home hard after so many splendid years together. Years full of laughing, learning, squabbling, biking, shaping, hustling and bustling, designing, creating, and pulling strings.

These years of great fortune will live on in our hearts.
Thank you Martin.

In a way, death is an impossibility that suddenly becomes a reality.

MESO today

The radical changes brought about by our sudden loss sparked a radical rethinking of the company. It started the beginning of a new exchange of resources and expertise between the MESO Digital Interiors and MESO Digital Services teams.

Since 2012, both companies share more than 650 m² of office and 120 m² of additional workshop space. The blurring of technical borders between web and real-time technologies allowed for a more integrated approach; both teams have begun work under joint management in 2018.

In 2018, MESO Digital Interiors and MESO Digital Services not only approach projects with unified expertise, but will also legally becoming one entity; and crazily took 12 years to create a new website under a new name: https://MESO.DESIGN

Now with more than 20 years of media design experience MESO are not only experts in sophisticated online software systems and digital services, but are also experts in the development of spatial experiences and digital interiors. The two formerly separate divisions are joining forces. Read on about our fields of expertise.

And we still love weird things ...