Students who enjoy relaxing with a cup of coffee and a macaroon at Lab Café on East Liberty St. may be interested in a new incubator business currently being developed by one of its co-owners.

Lab co-owner Tobias Wacker and Rackham student Pablo Quinones recently teamed up to create dapp, a business that will sell an eclectic combination of handcrafted electronics cases and furniture made from local reclaimed barn wood. According to Waker and Quinones, the company will feature various crafters with differing skills and interests in an effort to emphasize the value of handcrafted items in the era of mass-produced products.

“It’s more about craft, care and quality of the product,” Wacker said. “Using materials that are meant to last as opposed to dissolve in a few years.”

Wacker explained that dapp is focused on uniting community members who create products as part of a personal philosophy of developing “authentic goods for the 21st century.”

Quinones echoed Wacker’s sentiments, and lauded the potential for a market of handcrafted goods in the community.

“We pride ourselves in this idea that things we do should be handcrafted,” Quinones said. “Things should be unique, and there should always be a connection between the person who receives something we’ve sold them and the people who have made the thing they’re buying.”

The duo said their hope is to create a more exclusive atmosphere reminiscent of Etsy — a website where people sell their own creations — to help artisans produce products on a larger scale than they could on their own. Wacker noted that having a physical shop is the ultimate goal.

“We want to keep our minds open to whatever fits our philosophy as opposed to a certain product,” Wacker said. “One or two years from now we might have a roster of 50 artisan designers that we work with regularly but they also start collaborating with each other.”

Wacker said Quinones taught himself traditional bookbinding methods in order to create handcrafted iPad and Kindle cases called FlightPads.

“It’s literally a labor of love for every single case,” Wacker said. “He spent months figuring out tiny details.”

Wacker said they may work toward developing a University-themed FlightPad and that they also hope to utilize the University’s talent to cultivate future crafters featured with dapp. However, he said this may be challenging due to the demanding schedules of students.

“Design students and art students often have amazing projects, but they’re so focused on graduating,” he said.

Quinones said he’s excited about the prospect of potentially working with students in the future.

“One of my dreams is to go to the design school, go to the architecture school, talk to people in the art program and find people who have really cool stuff so that we could work together with them,” he said.

Quinones said he is considering searching for crafters within the community, noting he already has his eyes on a hat-designer.

“There’s a lot of richness in the community in terms of people’s ideas and experience, and I think we would do really well by continuing to have the connection to Ann Arbor,” he said.

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published.