What’s going on behind the scenes, beyond the 3D printers, the bright flash of laser cutters, beyond the network of nerds? “Fab Lab is a philosophy,” Andrea Pirazzini told me in Fab Lab Padova. You may be a maker, you may be a fabber, you may enjoy creating things with your hands and hanging out with machines, but the overall implication of what’s happening here is far greater than the individual person, or even individual Labs.
Is there such a thing as a “typical” Fab Lab? Not really, but Fab Lab Genova breaks every mold there is anyway. We met Masa at 10AM on a Saturday outside the Buridda, a building which could be best described as a squatters workplace. Fab Lab Genova is just one of many projects operating out of Buridda, along with a boxing club and circus troupe. People don’t live there, but their equipment occupies the space, free of rent.
The same fraternal atmosphere that exists in your favorite bar permeates a Fab Lab. During our two-day visit to Fab Lab Cascina, in the swooping Tuscan countryside west of Pisa, Lab manager Fiore Basile welcomed me and Jon with a big grin, and the other members present rushed forward to shake our hands. The interview had begun before I even had a chance to remove my coat, they were so enthusiastic to show us around their space. The European Fab Labs I’ve been to are distinctly devoted to cultivating a space where locals (and foreigners) can feel comfortable experimenting and inventing.