Continuing our look at interesting retail concepts from around the world – this week we take a look at the FabCafe in Tokyo.
One geeky step beyond the concept of an internet cafe – FabCafe combines a coffee bar with a laboratory – featuring a range of cutting edge digital fabrication tools including a laser cutter, which allow customers to experiment with high-end creative technologies over a cup of delicious marshmallow latte. The fab here doesn’t just stand for fabulous – it’s a place where creative types can come to fabricate things and realise their digital designs in a range of materials.
Located in the Shibuya district, the FabCafe concept is aimed at Tokyo’s flourishing design community. Run by Loftwork – a digital media company – the idea is to provide a space where people can have a go at creating things, using new kinds of expensive high-end technology that they might not have access to in their own work environment.
The laser cutter produces 3D sculptures from a range of materials, including wood, felt, acrylic and fabric. A thirty minute session on the machine costs around £35 – or 3 people can share a session for £14 each. The objects are produced from customers own Adobe Illustrator vector files and the machines have been used to create a wide range of weird and wonderful items including guitar plectrums, puzzles, jewellery and bespoke iPhone and laptop covers. Despite being tremendous fun, it’s not just for playing and some cafe customers have been using the machines to create low-cost 3D prototypes of commercial designs.
In addition to providing a space to create, FabCafe also offers a space for sharing ideas and innovation. Themed events such as the MacFab night (for Apple lovers wishing to pimp their devices) have helped FabCafe to secure it’s position as one of Tokyo’s most original new retail concepts and we’re sure it won’t be long before we see something similar opening here in London.