The Faraday Café in Vancouver got its name from the Faraday Cage, a material shield around the bar’s interior that was built by the designers to block all electromagnetic signals. By creating a place without any digital connections the owners of the Faraday Café hope to restore non-digital, social interaction between people.
“Since purchasing a smartphone this past year, I’ve noticed it has enabled more productivity in many ways — in fact I can’t remember how I lived without it. The flip side of this is that I’ve also noticed its negative effect on my personal relationships and stress levels”, explains Julien Thomas to Pop-Up City. “A friend mentioned the Faraday Cage concept and I thought it would be an interesting experience for others. I knew the cage wouldn’t be enough of a draw for most people, so that’s when I decided to turn it into a cafe serving high-end coffee.”
With the project the owners want to investigate how we can adequately reflect on our relationship with the pervasive and quickly rising wireless technology. “I wanted to create the café to give people an opportunity to voluntary opt out of wireless use, so that we could distance ourselves enough to discuss how we want to use digital technology moving forward”, says Thomas. The Faraday Café, that opened its doors on July 4th, doesn’t ask customers to turn off their phone — it simply hasn’t to.
Many of the first visitors were immediately drawn to the concept, explains Thomas: “Either from a health or social well-being lens, or they were merely curious.” It’s the goal of the owners to tell people how they should live with their phone of laptop — they just want to open the discussion, and that’s what happens. “I see a general trend with people in favor of the Internet claiming quantitative, instrumental benefits, while those who are more hesitant of the internet claim qualitative, emotional losses,” says Thomas.
The Faraday Café will be open for two weeks only. It was made as part of an artist residency through HCMA and hosted at The Chinatown Experiment, a storefront in Vancouver that houses pop-up projects. No immediate follow-up is planed yet, says Thomas, but he believes that there’s room for permanent bars or clubs that keep wireless signals out.
Photo Courtesy: Cafe YVR