Phyllis Klein, co-founder of Fab Lab DC, wore her Fab Academy final project, Remember2, to the White House Maker Faire. Remember2 is a a programmable, origami-inspired bracelet that sparkles at intervals to remind the wearer to get up and move, take a break, exercise, refocus, or various other actions.
“I’m thrilled and honored to be attending the White House Maker Faire,” she says. “Receiving the invitation was a Cinderella moment for me.”
But it’s not just about being at the White House, she says. A Maker Faire is still a Maker Faire: “I’m looking forward to meeting other makers, including policy makers; learning about their projects and initiatives; and discussing how together we can further the ‘make’ mission,” she says.
And she hopes to find some kindred spirits there. “I think this project nicely aligns with the First Lady’s Let’s Move initiative,” she says.
Fab Lab DC’s Founders Story: Phyllis Klein and Alex Mayer
Alex Mayer and Phyllis Klein are lifelong makers, from childhood to now, making things and making things happen. Initially working as artists, multimedia designers, and researchers, we were naturally drawn to new digital design technologies and processes and the possibilities they offer — for our ideas and for others. In addition to keeping the lab running, I’m also participating in Fab Academy and exploring tessellation fabrication, press fit systems, and wearable designs. Alex is learning and applying digital fabrication in his art, design, and architecture projects.
As an “urban pioneer,” settling in DC in the mid-1970’s, Alex purchased and began reviving an 1890’s smokehouse for home and studio in the 14th and U neighborhood. At that time, the area — which had been the epicenter of the 1968 riots – was desolate and troubled. I joined Alex here in the mid-1980’s. And, although riddled with crime, prostitution, and drugs, we saw the opportunity to contribute to the transformation of the neighborhood. Our engagement with neighbors, civic groups, the local government, and a citywide coalition of like-minded citizens helped to leverage positive results. And, in parallel, we were also members of a burgeoning and dynamic arts community. We still live and work in the ‘smokehouse,’ and we raised our two daughters here. WAMU did a fun piece about we alley dwellers: “D.C.’s Alley Dwellers Live In The Heart Of It All, Out Of Sight”.
Our interest in urban renewal, art and design, education, and technology led us to the Fab Lab Project and founding Fab Lab DC.
About Fab Lab DC
Fab Lab DC is a nonprofit, community maker space nestled in the middle of a block on busy North Capitol Street, NW, in a transitional neighborhood in the heart of Washington, DC. (You can see the U.S. Capitol from our front sidewalk.) We are currently an all-volunteer organization, growing incrementally through our Fab activities, grants, contributions, and community support. We offer workshops, events, speaker series, and exhibitions. Our reach and opportunities for collaboration are also extended through our connection with global network of Fab Labs.
We launched Fab Lab DC after meeting Neil Gershenfeld and Sherry Lassiter in 2010, and starting out in MIT’s Mobile Fab Lab. From there, our lab ‘popped up’ at the historic building on North Capitol Street in November 2011, during DC’s Digital Capital Week. We formally got underway at the location in mid-2012.
We serve the region’s diverse creative community, which includes makers, artists, designers, architects, educators, students, and the general public. The serendipitous convergence of people from a variety of backgrounds, educational experiences, ages, and interests contributes to the appeal of the lab as a gathering place to exchange and realize ideas. We also serve as a model lab for leaders in government, industry, education, and business, and provide information and answers to the many inquiries about the Fab Project. Interested in learning more? Contact Fab Lab DC!