People constantly lose and find stuff…smartphones, wallets, scarfs. But these aren’t the only things that go missing. Love, passion and fear, too, have a habit of disappearing. FUNDBÜRO2 in Zürich is a different kind of Lost and Found office for missing items that you can’t hold in your hands. Since starting the project in February 2017, numerous people have shared their stories with Andrea Keller and Patrick Bolle, the founders of FUNDBÜRO2. Either online or at the small desk in Zürich City, people have reported what they’ve lost or found. In some cases, FUNDBÜRO2 connects people who can help each other. The project is not just a topic in Zürich – it has spread beyond our borders as well. But let’s start at the beginning.
How did you come up with the idea?
To be honest, it was rather spontaneous and on the spot. My partner in the project, Patrick Bolle, and I received an invitation to do a social or artistic project in a former small–ticket house in Zürich. They gave us „Carte Blanche“ to do whatever we wanted, which was great. One fine day in September 2016, we met at this place. We sat on a bench, soaked in the warm autumn sunshine, fantasized some and attempted to draw inspiration from what was around us. On one side, there was a “real” lost-property office, just around the corner. And on the other side, the Bahnhofstrasse was really close – a shopping street famous for its expensive shops and stands for consumption. And there it was, suddenly: The desire to create a place for lost and found intangibles, the non-things that we so often dwell upon: feelings, hopes, insights, convictions and beliefs.
Why do people need something like FUNDBÜRO2?
People need it because we live in a deeply possession-focused and superficial time. It’s all about things, things, things… Possessions that promise to make us more interesting, attractive, desirable and happy. But the most important „things“ are non-things: happiness itself, for example, or love, inspiration, curiosity, time.
What’s the aim?
We simply invite people to think about their treasures that are immaterial and ask themselves: What have I lost? What have I found? When and where did I lose it or find it? With FUNDBÜRO2, we’d love to ring the bells, to call attention to these situations and simply provide a point of contact, a platform. We collect the messages, we share some of them on our website and on Facebook – and this July, we’ll hold an event that also includes a reading with an extract of all the little stories about what people have lost and what they’ve found. A beautiful and valuable conclusion would be a book. That’s what we’re hoping for and working towards.
How did people react?
The reactions have been overwhelming and the media interest is greater than we expected. Not only Swiss radio stations and newspapers have taken note, but German ones have taken up the topic, too. Even a German politician integrated the idea and the project into a speech and shared his “lost and found” items in public. We are most fortunate to receive lots of positive feedback, some messages are very personal…via the Internet, at the counter and even by post. A few weeks ago, we got a letter from an 80-year-old German woman, written on her typewriter. Her message came in the form of a poem: She had lost the feeling of having a homeland.
Have you received negative feedback?
That’s the strange thing: none whatsoever. We expected that some people would say: “What nonsense!” That’s what people normally love to do: criticize and nay-say, right? And I’m sure not everyone that hears or reads about our FUNDBÜRO2 is thrilled – but no one wrote to tell us that they find this project pointless. On the contrary, people seem to find it charming.
How many messages did you receive?
Approximately 250 after the first three months.
Which message touched you the most?
Oh, there were so many. Beautiful ones, funny ones and sad ones. A man in his early forties finally lost his willingness to be treated badly in a relationship. That’s great! A young girl defeated her anorexia, found a new body awareness and the desire to actively participate in life and enjoy herself. Some people have found love, of course, some people have lost their belief in big feelings. Some people have found new talents, started to sing, for example… Some have lost their inspiration and are hoping for a creative burst. One woman lost part of her memory. Another, her joy of the colour orange. Or time! Lot’s of people have lost time – like when they get stuck on Social Media. But I also recall one man that stopped by and said that he’d found half a day – to share or to give away.
What’s the next project?
The next step is our event in July: We are looking forward to sharingthe inspiring content with people, and we’d love to host a small conversation with someone from the real “Lost & Found” office around the corner. Maybe our jobs are not that different. I mean, if someone has lost his wedding ring, that can be very emotional, too. Or a lost mobile phone – what kind of an effect does that have? The other big thing we’d love to see happen, as I already mentioned, is collecting all this into a book as a “conclusion” to this project.
What happens after FUNDBÜRO2?
Neither Patrick nor I suffer from a loss of ideas. And thanks to FUNDBÜRO2, we’ve found a beautiful example of how little ideas can grow quite big and beautiful.