THE FUTURE OF FABRICATION SERVICES IS THERE Karianne Rygh, Cynthia Hathaway & Danielle Arets
When it comes to innovation, Japan is still a leading country and a great inspiration. New business models challenge the traditional relations between retail stores and consumers, and thereby alter the role of designers. Instead of the creative lead, designers become moderators between customers, industry, and society. In January, a Design Academy delegation conducted an exchange with Keio University FSC in Tokyo and the Kyoto Institute of Technology. Their aim was to disseminate CRISP knowledge on PSS at Kyoto University and to investigate the rise of Fablabs in Japan in relation to the new CRISP research project Incubator 2.5.
towards prosumer labs, a new pss model The FabCafé is run by Loftwork Inc., and generates revenue by offering the space and the machines to the public. According to Daijiro Minzuno, a design researcher at Keio University and one of the frontrunners of Fablabs in Japan, the FabCafé is a perfect way for companies to explore customer interactions with their machines, what products they are making, and in what context these customers can best be supported. The FabCafé seems to be the perfect test bed for fabrication technology developers searching for new sustainable PSS in a highly competitive market.
The transition from retail outlet to prosumer lab is rapidly transforming the retail sector in Japan. At Muji, one of the largest design department stores, consumers can find staff Fablabs are rapidly increasing in popularity. They first appeared in universities, offering students cheap and flexible and devices on every floor to customise their goods using access to 3D fabrication technology, but are now also enter- digital printers and laser cutters. As a brand, Muji embraces the idea that the final design should be open to change. ing the consumer market. A clear example of this democratisation of technology is the FabCafé, a coffee shop equipped The design of their objects are simplistic to support personwith a laser cutter and 3D printing machine. Customers can alisation. With the introduction of on-site digital manufacturing, Muji embraces a new and growing customer-base socialise at the café but can also produce prototypes and which is no longer passive but rather pro-consuming. exchange knowledge during monthly events and workshops.