MakeLab Engages Event Audiences with Interactive Tech Activations
With the help of 3D printers and laser cutters, MakeLab takes the ordinary and turns it into the extraordinary. The Toronto-based company sends its staff around the world, providing cutting-edge, interactive event experiences that leverage the power of technology.
The studio has executed custom interactives for companies across a number of market segments, including automotive, cosmetics, technology and creative agencies.
“We have not seen any industry that isn't interested in these kinds of things,” said Jonathan Moneta, MakeLab founder and creative director.
MakeLab’s tech activations include:
- Pop-Up 3D Printing Studio — Using 3D printers supplied by MakeLab, guests can design their own 3D object, either from scratch or using customized elements created in advance. They can then watch their design be printed and leave with a souvenir to remind them of their event experience.
- Giant Digital Graffiti Coloring Book — Guests use digital spray paint to create their own artwork, which can be freehand or on customized coloring book pages designed in advance to showcase a brand, event or theme.
- Laser Dessert Bar — Using lasers, guests’ drawings or designs are caramelized onto cookies or colorful macarons.
- T-Shirt and Tote Bag Printing Press — MakeLab works with organizers to design up to three options that can be heat-pressed onto a cotton t-shirt or bag of the attendee’s choice while they watch.
- Laser Cut Creation Station — Guests can draw freehand or use pre-made templates and elements to create a unique design that is then laser-fabricated. The laser cutting and engraving machine can cut through wood and engrave a wide variety of items, from metal keychains to wine bottles and wooden ornaments.
At the recent 2018 Meeting Professionals International (MPI) World Education Conference (WEC), MakeLab set up the Edible Selfie Photo Booth.
Attendees used a photo booth-like set-up and branded backdrop provided by the MakeLab team to take a selfie. The design team then used an architectural-grade laser cutter to precisely caramelize the photo onto the surface of a cookie or macaron.
For a line of more than 10 people, the wait was a mere six minutes. Some attendees chose to watch the laser in action, others opted to come back later to pick up their carefully packaged tasty likeness.
Moneta explained the creative thinking process powering the company’s innovative activations.
“We have six or seven core technologies: 3D printers, laser cutters, robot arms, graffiti walls, those kinds of things,” he said. “ We then design activations that resonate with the host’s narrative and theme.”
MakeLab’s history starts with innovation. At university, Moneta took both theater production and accounting courses, balancing creativity with practicality. He went to work for a tech startup and learned about hardware product design and management. That company also had a 3D printer available for all the employees to use.
The 3D printer got Moneta thinking about how to combine technology and performance. The first iteration of MakeLab was an Internet café for physical digital tools, like 3D printers. The team would bring 3D printers into local bars and show people how to use them.
The hands-on bar tutorials were a big hit but before they could create a business plan for monetization, something curious happened. Event planners, brands and agencies started reaching out and asking if MakeLab could bring this technology to their events.
One of the company’s first clients was Absolut Vodka. They wanted to create something hands-on. The answer? 3D-printed connectors that turned each bottle into the equivalent of a Lego brick. At parties, people would take hundreds or even thousands of bottles and would use the connectors to stack them and build these huge sculptural installations.
At Toronto Fashion Week, MakeLab used its Laser Cut Wearables Bar activation. Guests used tablets to design a bow tie, pendant or other decoration. Their artwork was then laser fabricated in birch wood. Microsoft leveraged the same activation to show off its new Surface tablets in a creative, interactive way – guests could use the Surface tablets to design the item they wished to have created.
With so much customization, it would seem that these activations would require a significant amount of advance planning. Not so, said Moneta. While they started off with primarily custom work, the offerings have evolved to fit the needs of almost any event planner. Everything is developed so it can be executed on very short notice, although leaving some extra time for custom requests is recommended.
All of these activations are perfect for social media sharing. Whether through an event app, Instagram, Twitter, Facebook or even LinkedIn, event organizers can encourage attendees to share photos of their own whimsical designs using the appropriate event hashtag(s).
To learn more about MakeLab, go HERE.