If you think every FabLab is a dark space full of badly dressed geeks and unfinished projects with wires sticking out of them, think again. Tokyo's FabCafé mixes the traditional conviviality of a café (serving lattes and fried Japanese yummies) with the creative atmosphere of a Makerspace (complete with lasercutter) and is having commercial success while helping bring the world of Makers to the eyes of a wider public.

The café opened in the trendy area of Shibuya., Tokyo, in March 2012, and it looks pretty much like other traditional eateries in the area, except that at its heart is something not at all traditional: a Universal Laser Systems VLS 6.60 lasercutter. Clients show up with their file of vector graphics and rent the machine for short periods of time; the machine handles just about anything, from wood to acrylic, paper and fabric. The service doesn't come cheap - about 20 euros per half hour if you share the time with up to three people, or 50 euros for half an hour if you want it all to yourself.

tokyo fab

Between open thematic nights (like modding Apple products) and platters of awesome-looking Japanese food, the FabCafé offers a good mix of traditional and innovative and is doing a good job of attracting a diverse public (lots of young women!) and diffusing the concept of fabbing to more people. The success of the operation is due to the creative agency that runs it with passion, based on five key elements including openness, the potential of fabbing, and a positive hacker curiosity. The Café has become a community meeting point where shared creative projects are born, and anyone can come play!

Of the many products made every day at the FabCafé, the best are put on display in a space with signs that say "What do you fab?" with the goal of eventually creating an exhibit that will change daily. The whole space and its activities, in fact, look to the outside efficiently, with an excellent and frequently updated website and blog in both Japanese and perfect English - a place we'll be keeping an eye on!

All photos taken from the official website: http://www.fabcafe.com


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