Learn how to draw, catch a movie screening or shop till you drop at... a cafe near you!

Lovers of stationery would enjoy attending ‘From Pen to Paper’ bazaar by Battery Acid Club. – Pictures by Choo Choy May, Saw Siow Feng & courtesy of the cafes
Lovers of stationery would enjoy attending ‘From Pen to Paper’ bazaar by Battery Acid Club. – Pictures by Choo Choy May, Saw Siow Feng & courtesy of the cafes

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KUALA LUMPUR, Feb 28 — More cafes here are catering to not only their patrons’ appetites for food and coffee but also their passion for art, design and even shopping.

This natural evolution to create a communal space for these creative activities arose as some of the cafe owners also come from a creative background. This gives customers an option to learn a new skill, shop at an art bazaar or even paint something all in the comfort of the cosy cafe environment.

It also opens up the cafe to be a place for potential customers to bond with others who share the same interests.

Shop till you drop for vintage toys and collectibles at this bazaar organised by Battery Acid Club (left). Christopher Koh and Lynette Cheng are the faces behind Lorem Ipsum, a cafe that organises art jams (right)
Shop till you drop for vintage toys and collectibles at this bazaar organised by Battery Acid Club (left). Christopher Koh and Lynette Cheng are the faces behind Lorem Ipsum, a cafe that organises art jams (right)

In Bangsar, workshops on silkscreening, drawing and watercolour painting are held upstairs at TH.Inc Academy, the sister company, of cafe DR.Inc. The workshops are held every second and fourth weekend of the month.

“The workshops are an eye opener for people who come to DR.Inc. It is about inspiration and making things beautiful,” said Lisette Scheers, the founder of the cafe which started in December 2014. The oh-so-creative Scheers is also well-known for Nala Designs which produces unique Peranakan-inspired prints that can be found on items like pillows, bags and stationery. Recently bolts of fabric with her distinctive prints are also available.

She loves to teach and once taught in an art school in Amsterdam. As Scheers finds the level of art education rather lacking in Malaysia, she hopes to make a change with her workshops. This January, she launched TH.Inc Academy as an art school where people can learn art. Day classes will be from 9am to 12pm and there will be night classes too. “The syllabus will be based on art and creative thinking,” said Scheers. Besides art-related events, they also conduct wushu and yoga classes for those who are interested.

Lisette Scheers opened TH.Inc Academy to encourage people to learn art
Lisette Scheers opened TH.Inc Academy to encourage people to learn art

Other than workshops, DR.Inc also hosts a monthly food market. The relatively new event kicked off in December last year. Initially, Scheers envisioned an organic food market, as inspired by a concept she saw in Bali.

She eventually dropped the idea as organic food is too expensive here. “It’s about people coming together and for people who are passionate about cooking,” she said. People from Ganga Cafe, Fierce Curry House and BakedKL sell their food at the food market in DR.Inc.

Silkscreening workshops are a regular affair at TH.Inc Academy (left). You get to have a hands-on experience during the silkscreening workshops at TH.Inc (right)
Silkscreening workshops are a regular affair at TH.Inc Academy (left). You get to have a hands-on experience during the silkscreening workshops at TH.Inc (right)

The food market is held every last weekend of the month. Each food market comes with a theme and the recent market was called “Monkey Business” in honour of the Lunar New Year. “I hope to have other types of vendors next time, maybe a tarot card reader or fortune teller,” said Scheers.

Another art-centric cafe in Bangsar is Lorem Ipsum which regularly holds art events. Opened on December 2014, the cafe started having art events three months in. Nowadays it is a popular hangout because of their art jams which allows participants to express their hidden art talents. “Before we first started the cafe, we already talked about having art jams. It was all part of the plan,” said Lynette Cheng, one of the co-founders of Lorem Ipsum. Both Cheng and her husband Christopher Koh come from an advertising background, so painting and drawing is natural to them. Even the name of the cafe, Lorem Ipsum comes from a text filler of the same name.

At Battery Acid Club, there are occasional movie screenings featuring famous designers
At Battery Acid Club, there are occasional movie screenings featuring famous designers

“We organised bazaars twice with Carmen Soo, and garage sales where the money was donated to charity. We also have workshops such as doodling, acrylic and watercolour workshops. Recently, we started introducing workshops for children where they can learn painting and papier-mâché,” said Koh.

Lorem Ipsum is planning to add more crafts to their list. They also want to promote artist awareness. Recently, they collaborated with Elena Korenkova for an art event where she taught students how to use ink on paper and acrylic on canvas. The cafe is also available for corporate events such as product launches and brand workshops. The space is open for art jamming as a team building activity as well.

The crowd at Battery Acid Club enjoying the movie screening
The crowd at Battery Acid Club enjoying the movie screening

The cafe has even had groups of people art jamming as part of their birthday or hen’s night celebrations.

“The art jams are free and easy. We give a basic introduction and then they can get started. It’s a place for people who have an interest in art but don’t know where to start. Materials can get expensive so we provide materials. It’s not limited to just artists but also for people to de-stress,” said Cheng.

Usually, Lorem Ipsum hosts their workshops twice a month but some months, there are events every weekend. “The reason why we do these events is to promote art. We also want to promote Malaysian art talents. We notice that it is a growing trend to have events at cafes. Cafes are a meeting point for people so it is more convenient as well,” said Koh.

Old-school game console controller at the Play Pixels event
Old-school game console controller at the Play Pixels event

Over in Petaling Jaya, there is Awegallery which had its first pop up event in June 2014 and since then, it has become a space for those who are experts in brewing coffee, magazines or even printing to showcase their talents. “We had a pop up by Spacebar Coffee as well as Boktjuv, Medium Rare and The Alphabet Press,” said Diane Ong, one of the partners of Awesome Canteen and Awegallery. The events were so well-received that they decided to organise their own bazaar called Lelong in May 2015 where vendors sold their pre-loved items and vintage goods.

Awesome Canteen is a cafe run by a group of design firm colleagues who branched out to F&B in 2013.

“We opened up Awegallery in September 2014 because we wanted to have an art gallery. In between the transition to be an art gallery it was turned into an event space where we had art exhibitions, photography exhibition, pop ups and more,” said Sam Wong, manager of Awegallery that is located next door to Awesome Canteen.

Check out these awesome gift ideas and stationery
Check out these awesome gift ideas and stationery

What qualifies as an ideal event for Awegallery would be something creative and interesting which is related to the owners’ creative background. “We are doing what we want, most of them are our pet projects like Momage (that produces unique light boxes with photos),” said Janice Tyan, one of the co-founders of Awesome Canteen and Awegallery. Ong also believes that the events organised by them provide a good platform for local makers to showcase their products.

At Awegallery, a local artiste gives a music performance for the attendees
At Awegallery, a local artiste gives a music performance for the attendees

As most of the owners are always at Awesome Canteen, it’s also a matter of convenience when they host the bazaars at Awegallery. Being avid shoppers themselves, this means they can also shop easily without having to leave the premises. At first, the space for Awegallery was supposed to be turned into a cafe, but they decided instead to switch it into an event space since they had a lot of friends participating in markets.

Clothes, accessories, handcrafted items — you can find them all at the markets organised by cafes
Clothes, accessories, handcrafted items — you can find them all at the markets organised by cafes

“We have had cupping sessions, animation workshop, calligraphy workshop, stamp making workshop, terrarium workshops... next I want to have a cooking workshop too!” said Ong. Other than that, Awegallery also had music performances by upcoming local artistes and even a movie screening before, where they showed a local movie about the MH370 tragedy done by a production house. “We are looking for anything interesting. We try to be as open as we can, it is a creative space where anybody can join,” said Wong.

So far, the response has been very good. “We noticed that cafes started having events because generally cafe goers are the right target audience, people who spend two to three hours drinking coffee and catching up with friends. There are also more events and more choices for people to attend,” said Ong.

One of the markets organised by Awegallery featuring one-off items that you can’t get anywhere else
One of the markets organised by Awegallery featuring one-off items that you can’t get anywhere else

Similarly, Battery Acid Club in Petaling Jaya was also started by a team of creative people from the advertising world. Launched in December 2014, the cafe also has a shop within its premises called the Objekt-Objekt store. Their first event was a movie screening in May 2015 about acclaimed Italian graphic designer Massimo Vignelli. “Our objective of organising events is to bring people together.

We had the screening a year after his death. He is my design hero,” said Aaron Tan, one of the co-founders of Battery Acid Club.

The screening received good response and it brought together like-minded designers. Battery Acid Club also hosts themed markets and they are popular for their stationery market called From Pen to Paper whcih features stationery items, vintage products, magazines and prints from local designers. In conjunction with World Industrial Day, they also had an event called Redefine Design to create awareness on industrial design.

On a regular basis, Battery Acid Club will have film screenings featuring famous designers and artists such as Deiter Rams, Eames and Ai Wei Wei. Their last film screening featured modern Japanese architecture. Some of the featured artists’ products and designs can be found at Objekt-Objekt store. “Our themed markets help local designers showcase their goods,” said Tan.

You can buy things that are carefully curated at the markets
You can buy things that are carefully curated at the markets

The team also organised a special event called Play Pixels which is about video games. “We let people try out 8-bit games, something the newer generation probably don’t know about. We brought in some arcade machines, old TV and old consoles. There was even a competition for Pacman where the winner got the first Game Boy as a prize,” said Foo Hsiang Hsien, another co-founder of Battery Acid Club.Since their first From Pen to Paper event held last June had very good response, they held a bigger second edition of the stationery market in November. For the second stationery market, they expanded it to two days and featured a different set of vendors.

“Events create awareness. Some people don’t know about Dieter Rams or video games... we do events so that we can boost a creative society,” said Tan.

DR.Inc/TH.Inc Academy

8 and 8a, Jalan Kemuja, Bangsar, KL

Tel: 03-2283 4698

https://www.facebook.com/drincbangsar

https://www.facebook.com/thincacademykl

The February food market will be held on February 28 from 11am onwards.

Awesome Canteen/Awegallery

19 and 21, Jalan 20/13, Paramount Gardens, PJ

Tel:03-7865 8048 (Awesome Canteen)

https://www.facebook.com/awesomecanteen

https://www.facebook.com/awegallery

Lorem Ipsum

59, Jalan Bangkung, Taman Bandaraya, KL

Tel: 03-2201 6969

https://www.facebook.com/lorem.ipsum.kl

Battery Acid Club

21, Jalan SS21/34, Damansara Utama, PJ

Tel: 03-7733 9682

https://www.facebook.com/batteryacidclub

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