Anything you like with your coffee? The answer to that question is slightly unexpected if you’re talking about MakersCAFE. This space, which opened in Shoreditch last month, is the UK’s first 3d printing cafe. An espresso here comes with a side of experimentation. We spoke to founder Soner Ozenc to find out more.
Why did you decide to set up MakersCAFE?
We were running our online laser cutting business, RazorLAB. That’s a 24 hour global fully automated service. But we realised that these new manufacturing processes and technology felt alien to people, they had no idea how they actually worked or what a 3d printer, for example, looked like. Coffee is the icebreaker that stops something like 3d printing being so intimidating. We wanted to let people see how things are made and to make that whole process sexy, nice and welcoming.
3d printing in action at MakersCAFE
You’re situated in the heart of Shoreditch, on the corner of Kingsland Road and Old Street. You must have a higher proportion of customers who have worked with this kind of technology before?
Yes, our decision to base here was very intentional and we do have a large proportion of customers that are professional designers and creators, or have an understanding of how things work. But we also serve a lot of people who have never seen a 3d printer before, and who just want to look at samples of what it can do. We really wanted a high footfall – we could have got another bigger space in London elsewhere for far cheaper – but taking it to a street level was very important to us so that people could witness the manufacturing for themselves.
How could a first time visitor approach your café?
They will not be pushed to do or buy anything. That’s very important to us. They are welcome to look and touch and ask questions without the pressure to buy. If they did want to try out 3d printing, they can download the software from the internet and try and prep their files before coming in. We also run a £1 a minute consultancy service, so we can help them get to a stage when they can run their files and make their idea a reality.
Tell us about your event programme.
We’ve just announced our first events. It all ties in with our idea to link manufacturing with socialising and experimentation, making a social space for creating. We are going to have workshops, talks and teaching sessions: details are on the website.
How has London received your idea?
It’s been crazy. The momentum has been even bigger than we anticipated and we can really see its potential. We’re now hoping to open branches in New York and Sydney and franchises overseas. It’s all about imagination.
Images courtesy of MakersCAFE