Spotlight: Documenting Zurich’s Energy

Going behind the scenes of my Zurich assignment

Upon realizing Zurich is in fact not Switzerland’s capital, travelers visiting the picture-perfect Swiss city are often surprised by this geography tidbit. Despite its modest size, Zurich conjures up strong confidence that rivals any major metropolis. Synonymous with designer watchmaking, high quality chocolate and a strong global banking sector, the self-assuredness you might pick up on arrival is because Zurich thrives on ingenuity.

The energy that courses through Switzerland’s largest city is one of efficiency, functionality and problem-solving, with occasional stops at its proverbial watering hole, Lake Zurich, to rejuvenate and refresh before pulsating on again.

Zurich is a city driven by solutions.

One of the things I love about documenting places and stories are the people I meet who share of themselves and their time. But as a freelancer, sometimes these stories get cut beyond my control during the editorial phase and from final publication. You can read the final story here – Fresh Eyes: Zurich, Switzerland for Marriott.

So what I’ll start doing on my blog is sharing those lovely stories that were cut and didn’t make publication.

Food of the Future

Other boutique companies are also changing the way Zurich’s residents think about nourishment by bringing sustainable fare directly into the workplace. While vending machines still hold their place when it comes to convenience, FELFEL is replacing their sugary snacks with organic food meant to energize people with natural ingredients.

The company’s mantra — “free people from mediocre food at work” — promotes eating with intention. Founders Daniela and Emanuel Steiner work with local chefs and producers to create healthy food delivered to over 200 intelligent FELFEL vending machines. The design, too, is innovative. The fridge automatically reports when it’s time to restock certain food items.

Since launching in 2013, FELFEL has grown exponentially. In addition to developing a communal spirit, which encourages employees to eat healthy together, it also spotlights local producers, giving them a platform to share their products.

Cultivating Creative Waves

Finding peace in Zurich is also about appreciating the natural energy of the city. Once it’s time to slow down, locals bask along the sources of Lake Zurich.

For Swiss author Sarah Buchmann, the lake offered a specific kind of creative inspiration when she needed it most. Entering the eighth year of writing her novel about an undertaker in New Mexico, Buchmann knew she needed motivation to finish her book. Much like physical exercise, she decided movement was her way forward.

One lazy Sunday, Buchmann boarded a ferry with a friend across Lake Zurich with the intention of putting pen to final bits of paper. Not only did this solution work for Buchmann to finish her novel, it led her to create Writers On Board, a group of over a dozen writers who meet once a month at Bürkliplatz pier to board the ferry and create, side-by-side. (Exact dates and times are announced through an online magazine, The Woolf Quarterly.)

“We write individually on the way [there] and talk in English on the way back,” shares Buchmann. “Discussing our obstacles and exchanging our experiences is part of the motivational process.”

Watching Zurich slowly fade into the distance as the ferry glides across milky green glacial waters, you can’t help but relax amid the low humdrum of its engine. “The boat slows you down to pause and think,” adds Buchmann. “Your mind moves as you move with the boat. The motion adds something I can’t quite put into words yet.”

You can read more stories about the people making Zurich pulse and move in many ways in the final published story here – Fresh Eyes: Zurich, Switzerland for Marriott.