Maker Mondays: FabCafe Tokyo
About a year ago at SXSW I met the incredible people from Fab Cafe Tokyo. Their english was a little hard to understand so we spoke in sign: I would hold up an object in their booth and they would throw me a thumbs up. One particular object solicited a high five - at first I was a bit puzzled and then very excited, because as it turns out they were using 123D with their customers to create some truly creative work.
Fab Cafe sits uniquely between a TechShop and a high end coffee bar. They have created a relaxed atmosphere that is the perfect learning environment for digital manufacturing, a topic that can leave some novices with a tech hangover. Specializing in amazing coffee, highly thought-out courses, and a pristine workshop environment, I can hardly imagine a better remedy than to spend all day every day there swimming among the creatives of Tokyo.
I recently caught up with Fab Cafe to learn about their extremely busy past year, plans for global impact, and their self created 123D Catch booth (with a little assistance from my Autodesk counterparts in Tokyo).
JHA: How did Fab Café begin?
FC: We had a workshop with FabLab Kamakura member for 2 days in 2011. They brought various digital fabrication tools and we enjoyed them very much. We also figured out how digital fabrication tools are easy and they inspired our creativity. We thought all should be able to access these tools. Not in a lab, university and factory. That's why we put these machines in an open space - a cafe.
JHA: Are there future plans for expanding FabCafé?
FC: We have branches in Taipei and Barcelona now. And we will set up another two in Barcelona soon.
We've got many inquiries from all over the world so we hope we will setup ten FabCafe's in the world in 2014. They will lead diversity of creativity.
The advantage of digital fabrication tools are that their data is digital and easy to transfer via internet. So we can share ideas and data and output them whenever there are tools. We can expand FabCafe network without geographical limitation.
JHA: What has surprised you most about your customers?
FC: Yusuke Ohno is our customers and is also our collaborator. His work "360 degree book" is featured by many blogs, art sites and big fashion brand offered him to display his work in the store. Finally, the US company offered him to make his original 360 degree lamp shade for sale. It's a wonderful story that a work made in FabCafe became international famous art work and became a product.
We are inspired by our customers all time.
JHA: Can you tell us a bit more about the 123D Courses?
FC: We installed 3D printers FabCafe last May. Many customers were interested in 3D printer but they feel it's difficult to make 3D model. But it's not true. We want to change their mind. 3D modeling is accessible and 3D printer is also accessible for all. So we started Fab Class for entry users using 123D series. We have two courses. One is using 123D creature, the other is using Tinkercad. It's great thing that most of participants print out their work by 3D printer after the class.