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Responding to an unexpected level of local interest, Artisan's Asylum, a non-profit community craft studio co-founded by Olin alumnus, Gui Cavalcanti '08, has considerably expanded its space and materials since its opening last spring. The larger space (from 10,000 to 25,000 square feet) and upgrade in machinery is aimed at attracting more craftsmen to the studio in order to fulfill the asylum's mission of "supporting and promoting the teaching, learning and practicing of craft of all varieties." Craftsmen in the community are encouraged to use the space and state of the art machinery for personal benefit, startup companies or simple recreation.
"At the start, we had no idea that the Asylum would get this big," said Cavalcanti, co-founder and President of Artisan's Asylum. "We assumed in the beginning that 10-20 people might be interested in sharing a 1,000 square foot shop space with us, and then 100 people showed up to our kickoff event. We quickly realized there was a huge unmet demand in Boston not only for access to shop equipment, but for a community of makers. We jumped on an opportunity to expand when the perfect space came up, and have been running at full speed ever since."
This location on Joy Street near Union Square in Somerville features a precision machining area, a sculptural metalworking area, multiple welding areas, a woodworking area, a sewing area and a biking repair area. Artisan's Asylum, which opened in May of last year, will now add a lasercutter, a CNC plasma cutter and will be offering open-flame capabilities. The addition of space will open up 100 studio rentals in shop space- and the plans for growth don't stop there.
The Asylum is located in the old Ames Safety Envelope Company in Somerville. Cavalcanti has high hopes for expansion in the 239,000 square foot manufacturing complex, which includes several open buildings. "If we have enough renter interest, we're going to be taking over a 13,000 square foot space fairly quickly and opening it up solely for new renters," he said.
Artisan's Asylum offers daily and monthly membership plans on weekends as well as after work hours to encourage community craftsmanship.
Cavalcanti credits the learning environment at Olin College for helping to form his vision for the space. "My experience with Olin set the tone and desire for Artisan's Asylum in the first place," said Cavalcanti. "The open, collaborative environment at Olin, with easy access to manufacturing equipment, helped shape my life direction while I was in college. I strongly desired the same kind of environment when I left school, but couldn't find any sort of outlet for it in the local community, so I decided to start one!"
Click here to watch a video about the Artisan's Asylum.
The Asylum is looking for company sponsorship of rental spaces, and is also offering company-owned spots and passes to utilize all of the resources the warehouse offers. Anyone interested in renting out space is asked to complete this survey.