FabCafe Tokyo's Events Showcase Young Creators
FabCafe Tokyo in Shibuya, which was previously featured in this blog, has kicked off a new project aimed at supporting young designers.
With a range of digital tools like UV printers, laser cutters and 3D printers available for use in a café style setting, FabCafe Tokyo is a place where people can enjoy food and digital fabrication in one location. Numerous workshops and other events are also held with the aim of creating a community where creators can gather.
In November 2018, FabCafe Tokyo launched a new project called "WAVE Monthly Showcase" to highlight the works of selected creators and to run workshops that provide insight into their activities. The first showcase, which was held from November 4 to 18, 2018, featured exhibits by acrylic resin artist KAE and used Roland DG's UV printer to create the exhibits and workshops. We met up with Haruka Oshima of FabCafe Tokyo and KAE.
Photo: Colorful acrylic works from KAE's exhibit "ISEKAI - Out of this World"
Background to the project
What type of project is "WAVE Monthly Showcase?"
Oshima: It is a project aimed at showcasing the work of young creators from the broad range of genres that FabCafe focuses on. If the creators' enthusiasm for their work is likened to waves crashing down, it is our goal to gather up those waves and then propel them outward. For the first exhibit featured in the showcase, we worked with KAE who was a guest at a previous event.
A look at the exhibits
Haruka Oshima of FabCafe Tokyo
Tell us more about the works you have on display.
KAE: I have been working on the High-Me TOKYO fashion accessories brand that mainly uses acrylic materials, but for my next step I wanted to try making workpieces other than just accessories, so I recently embarked on a large project. I created an atmosphere for the FabCafe that takes visitors on a journey Out of this World by making new acrylic pieces from illustrations and collages of photos that I took myself, printing them with a UV printer and cutting them out using a laser cutter. Other pieces included work from my first exhibition held in February 2018. I am also running workshops for making acrylic accessories and have High-Me TOKYO accessories available for sale.
Accessory brand High-Me TOKYO director and designer KAE, who works with acrylic resins
You have a number of works made with acrylic. What do you find so appealing about this material?
KAE: I became fascinated as a student by the colorful world of acrylic, and even ordered accessories from overseas because acrylic was not as widely available back then as it is now. I wanted to make my own pieces and inquired with several manufacturing plants in Japan that deal with acrylic, which is how I got started working with the material.
Behind the scenes
What made you decide on using a UV printer for this project?
KAE: When I started out, it was recommended that I use a UV printer so that I could print directly onto acrylic to make the various parts for accessories used in my workshops. For this project, I wanted to put together a collage around the entire café of numerous large-sized pieces of acrylic, so I asked Oshima if I could use their UV printer. This would have been difficult to achieve within the size limit of FabCafe’s UV printer, but I could probably print them out at Roland DG’s Creative Center, so I asked Roland DG to help out.
Photos and illustrations printed on an expanded version of the LEF-300 UV printer customized for large work pieces by Mastermind (a Roland DG dealer) and available only in Japan.
Photos were printed on accessory parts using FabCafe's LEF-12 UV printer.
Workshop participants made one-of-a-kind earrings, piercings or pins by selecting parts with colored or patterned materials, and parts printed with photos and illustrations.
What are your impressions after using digital tools like the UV printer?
KAE: This was my first time using a UV printer, but I was amazed at just how high the quality of printing was for both small accessories and large display pieces. These items are usually made at production plants, so it was a refreshing new experience cutting out the acrylic with a laser cutter and then printing on them with the UV printer. It was great being able to create accessories right here.
Roland DG also suggested a laser decorator that can apply foil decorations to acrylic as a complement to the traditional Japanese themes featured in my pieces, so I used that device to transfer Japanese-themed illustrations to my accessories. Every small detail in the illustrations can be recreated, and I love the distinct look that these parts have.
Oshima: FabCafe also wants to see creators make more use of digital tools, so it was a great opportunity to work with KAE and make so many items for this project. While our staff use digital tools on a daily basis, we often have creators saying "I want to make something like this. I'd like to create this type of design," and coming up with some really surprising ideas that we never would have thought of. Trying different methods results in some really cool work, and it is also a learning experience for us.
A laser foil decorator LD-80 was used to transfer Japanese-themed illustrations onto accessory parts.
How do you feel after viewing your exhibits?
KAE: This was the first time I had so many large items on show, which made them difficult to arrange due to their size and positioning. After I saw all the items finally arranged, I must have had a grin on my face because I was so happy to achieve the mood I had been planning to create.
Oshima: Clear acrylic was used for the exhibited pieces, which makes it fun to look at because the mood changes so much depending on the time of day, weather and scenery outside. We also got the opportunity to make some of the pieces here, and I think we created a variety of new ways to express ideas.
The exhibits displayed a different mood throughout the day.
Goals for the future
Are there any new ideas that you want to try using these digital tools?
KAE: I definitely want to use UV printers again for making accessories, and large work pieces in particular. I think the printers could also be used to make other types of interior decorations, like flower vases and lighting fixtures.
What plans are there for the project in the future?
Oshima: I want to showcase more young creators, including artists, architects and other designers from all sorts of genres and make FabCafe a place where they can get together with customers. This event showcased KAE and her acrylic work pieces, and I also want to feature creators involved with 3D or AI technologies in the future.
In addition to Tokyo, FabCafe has a branch in Kyoto as well as locations overseas like Taiwan, so it would be great to exhibit KAE’s work featuring Japanese themes at those overseas branches and showcase her work to customers from other countries.
At Roland DG, we look forward to seeing more joint exhibits from FabCafe and creators in the future.