Achsengeschichten evolved out of "Stadt auf Achse", a KTI research commission between the Lucerne School of Art and Design, the city of Lucerne, the Zurich University of the Arts and the city of Zurich. The commission focused on urban development in Zurich and Lucerne, specifically along the Baselstrasse (Lucerne) and the Hohlstrasse (Zurich). A select group of artists were invited to develop and execute participatory projects along these two streets.
Philip Matesic and Swiss artist Rahel Grunder were invited to participate in "Stadt auf Achse" in Lucerne. They wanted to collect personal stories from the residents who lived along the Baselstrasse (Kasernenplatz - Seetalplatz). It's the most multi-cultural street in Lucerne, with a wide variety of ethnic shops, a steady stream of pedestrians and a continuous traffic noise. To collect these stories, they commissioned a carpenter, whose workshop was on the Baselstrasse, to build a mobile tea bar. This form was a gesture to ask the pedestrians they met to stop, take a break, have a tea and tell a story about living or working on the Baselstrasse.
In the early months of 2014, Grunder and Matesic collected over thirty stories, which they wrote down and recorded. The content ranged from not having anytime to talk, to noise complaints, to stories about how ideal it was to live along the street in the 1950s, to episodes of how chaotic it is to live along the street now, to a story about a beggar who turned out to be a millionaire and a homesick drug dealer from Niger. In June 2014, Grunder performed one of stories at Kreutzstutz, while Matesic performed (screaming across traffic) a manifesto that was written during the story collecting. These performances concluded the "Stadt auf Achse" commission, but the project evolved into Wayfarin' Strangers.