“My sister’s boyfriend works here, and I was invited for support, “ says a young woman with pink highlighted hair. There’s no telling how many random people of all ages heard about the grand opening party of Next Fab Studio, but I couldn't help but feel the authenticity of the crowd. It was Philadelphia’s best group of creatives and art enthusiasts, something that places like Brooklyn and Portland try hard to replicate. A sold out ticketed crowd of five hundred people walked leisurely around the two-floor 20,000-square foot warehouse space awestruck of the huge machinery and exhibit tables displaying 3-D manufacturing and production, re: technology inspired carpentry. Next Fab, located on 20th and Washington Avenue, is an original product of Drexel University, as many dragons were in the building as well as textile and manufacturing companies from Pennsylvania. Things to get inspired by is basically what this huge space is all about. It is fueled by individual memberships which allows your inner creativity and obsession with power tools to come into fruition creating whatever you want. Members get to take classes, use the materials and the machinery to create their own custom designs. Whether it’s a chair, a glass sculpture, or even a molded version of your face, you can basically fantasize about anything, and shazam!, it can happen.
Idea developer is probably a great title to give the staff at Next Fab, who were scattered around the room wearing, of course, customized wooden imprinted name tags. To build furniture usually requires your average hammer and saw, but it is a little archaic compared to the water powered jet, stationed at the entrance. It is manufactured by a company called Flow, which uses high pressure water and power for materials like metal, stone and food for industries like the aerospace and defense.
There’s a table saw made by Sawstop, with a very cool feature that detects any human body part that could be in jeopardy with coming in contact with the saw blade. The change in the electrical signal causes the blade to stop immediately. This causes minimal harm to the user, cutting back broken/chopped fingers.
The food was catered by Di Brunos and South Philly’s own The Sidecar, which offered a moist and sweet bread pudding! Plus, an open bar with all your favorite beer, wine and mixed drinks flowed graciously all night. It was a party well attended, and well planned; who can ask for more with a DJ playing Michael Jackson? Guests danced and mingled, talking about the latest industry craze and futuristic designs that are further away from Ikea, which made small children in attendance run around wide-eyed. Seriously, the best view was had by a 3-year old on top of her father’s shoulders.
This all was impressive.
I stopped the EXCITE ( Expressive & Creative Interaction Technologies Center) table exhibit from Drexel University, that focuses on fashion and technology Their motive includes new methods to incorporate fashion and technology into the medical field for better experiences. One program called Personal Expression & Interaction explores how the individual expresses themselves. For example, engineering and fashion textile students and faculty are working on developing sensor-based clothing that moves with your body heat. This is cutting edge and useful for people who can’t move their bodies, but need constant blood flow to survive. More here: http://drexel.edu/excite/research/technology/
Another table display demonstrated how to design your own jewelry from a sensor that transmits your hand movements holding a pen and motioning into the air, which in turn, transmits into a computer program in real time that replaces your movements with form and texture. All of these are really great examples of The Economist article on “The Third Industrial Revolution” and how anything one creates individually via computer, can be spit out by 3-d machines, thus lowering product waste and creating more uniqueness in society.
Next Fab also has an in-house cafe called L’Aube, that specializes in gourmet crepes, lounge areas and a conference room for private meetings, which is all accessible with membership.
For more information on Next Fab Studio, or membership visit: http://nextfabstudio.com/