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KUALA LUMPUR, Sept 17 — Learning how to craft has gotten so much easier nowadays with the emergence of Fab Space KL, a space dedicated to help you learn in a fun, casual way.
Opened since last October, it is located at Isetan The Japan Store Kuala Lumpur, where it is run by interior designer Gwyneth Jong and graphic designer Ignatius Andi.
The duo have different roles here as Andi is in charge of the creative side while Jong focuses more on the administration details.
“Fab Space KL is actually an affiliation to FabCafe which is a digital fabrication space located within a cafe. It’s a cafe that actually has laser cutters and 3D printers... those kinds of services like we do here. They are a global network and have branches in Tokyo, Taipei, Barcelona, Singapore, Bangkok, Strasbourg, Toulouse and they just opened a new one in Mexico. It’s not really a franchise but we are affiliated,” explained Jong.
Unlike the other spots all over the world, the one in KL is known as Fab Space since it doesn’t have a cafe within it.
The origins of FabCafe can be traced back to the FabLab, a concept that was first presented in 2002 by Neil Gershenfeld, an MIT professor in his book Fab:The Coming Revolution On Your Desktop — From Personal Computers to Personal Fabrication.
Inspired by the culture of creation, FabLab Japan was started in 2010 where they tested out a few variations that included a cafe concept at Tokyo Designers Week.
Driven by the enthusiasm of the crowd who participated, they proceeded to open a FabCafe in Shibuya, Tokyo.
Fast forward to the present day and FabCafe has a network of similar spaces all around the world. The cafes are multi-purpose: acting as a maker space, a place to just chill and sip on a drink and even as a co-working venue.
At Fab Space KL, you will find a fun and friendly spot that welcomes everyone from young to old, who are seeking to create and learn using a hands-on approach.
They collaborate with a mix of Japanese and local artisans to produce various workshops every weekend to suit your interests. Pricing for the workshops are also competitive.
Jong tells us that a simple badge workshop is around RM79 while you need to fork out around RM250 for a more complicated workshop.
The main objective of Fab Space KL is to create a community of creative people that is design driven who can come and use their equipment to work on their projects. Its “fab” moniker has a double meaning since it means fabulous and also fabrication.
“This whole floor is based on Japanese experiential learning (learning through experience) so they have a few key words they use like part of the learning is ‘create’, ‘feel’ and ‘try.’
“This part is the ‘create’ part while the Free Art Space and exhibition is the ‘feel.’ The Japanese Travel Bureau is also ‘feel’ so that’s why there is a classroom, a cafe area so the whole concept is to make you feel like Japan,” shared Jong about the store’s third floor layout.
At the space, you will have access to various digital fabrication machines that will bring your designs to life. These machines include the laser cutter, UV printer, embroidery machine, latex printer, CNC milling machine and 3D printer.
If you are wondering what a UV printer is, it is actually like a normal printer except the ink is UV and the printhead comes with a UV light. The UV light will cure the ink, so it can print on most surfaces such as acrylic, wood and metal.
There is also a latex printer which is more like a large format printer that can print stickers, canvas and art cards. One of the popular mediums used is canvas because it can be turned into bags.
“The 3D printer is additive manufacturing where it adds up layer by layer. The CNC milling machine is subtractive manufacturing so you put a block of wood or plastic and it will carve out the shape you want,” said Jong.
According to Jong, the most popular machine is the laser cutter. “For laser cutting the most popular products are made using wood, especially engraving. We charge by time so the more complicated the product, the more it costs,” said Andi. This is followed by the UV printer and embroidery machine. With the UV printer, you can also print photos on acrylic frames and blocks.
Past workshops conducted at Fab Space KL include one with Eats, Shoots & Roots where Fab Space KL did the design of a gardening box and electrical components while Eats, Shoots & Roots took care of the gardening portion.
To date, the most popular workshop was with Ohsum Mossum Terrariums where they taught participants to create a moss frame. Fab Space KL used the laser cutter to cut out the participant’s favourite quotes that were placed in the frames while Ohsum Mossum designed the moss background.
Earlier in September, Fab Space KL also collaborated with miniature food artist TinyPinc to run a special workshop where her Nyonya kuih artwork was placed on Fab Space KL’s laser cut plates with a Nyonya pattern. “After that we will have a ‘Make a Tune’ workshop where participants can actually make their own electronic keyboard using some electronic components and we design the box using wood,” said Jong.
The duo started Fab Space KL out of passion for making these products using machines. “We try to make it different. With the use of all these machines, you can make it look really legit... like a real product,” shared Jong.
There are some Japanese products as well as local products at Fab Space KL on the display shelves. As part of the FabCafe global network, Fab Space KL also has a laser cut unicorn head which you can just assemble on your own.
A lot of products at Fab Space KL can be customised such as wooden plates, wooden cups, chopsticks and leather name card cases. With all the machines available and the ever-ready team to help out, it’s really cool to see your initials being engraved on your favourite wooden frame. Initially as the duo were new to the machines, a team from FabCafe Japan flew to Malaysia to teach them how to use them.
If you prefer, you can also place an order with Fab Space KL to create a customised piece for you. So far, their most challenging request was from an architect who wanted a customised sign for a new house. Since it was a gift, he wanted it in a laser cut box which Fab Space KL specially made to house the sign. “Sometimes we get requests to do things like that and we are happy to because it pushes us,” said Jong.
Expect more workshops with Malaysian artisans in the coming months. For lovers of Japanese art, mark your calendars in November as FabCafe Hida which is based in central Japan will do a Hida takeover.
Find out more about Fab Space KL:
or visit Fab Space KL on the third floor of Isetan The Japan Store Kuala Lumpur at Lot 10, Jalan Bukit Bintang, KL