Martina Huynh

Basic Income Café

The project

The idea of an unconditional or universal basic income (UBI) is a topical subject that can differ greatly in effect and meaning, depending on the intentions and conditions of implementation. In the interactive installation Basic Income Café by Martina Huynh, visitors are able to experience two different basic income economies, whereby coffee is used to visualise the cash flow. One system provides a basis that is sufficient to meet all basic needs, the other provides a helping hand and assumes there is extra income to achieve a full (basic) income. Martina Huynh uses the coffee metaphor as an accessible context to provide insight into a complex concept and to enter into conversations about money and politics.


The Basic Income Café is a good example of how design can serve as a medium for gathering socially relevant information. It visualises a complex issue by breaking it down into a few simple actions: drinking coffee and making coffee. It adds new layers of interaction to the question of whether you are entitled to something or whether you have to earn it. Visitors submit to this easily accessible test set-up and are gradually lured into a substantive discussion. A strongly chosen metaphor, strongly implemented and with significant potential for further development based on the results of the conversations and the collaborations with the well-chosen (social) partners.

— The Basic Income Café visualises the complex issue of the basic income by breaking it down into a few simple actions: drinking coffee and making coffee.

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