Forum, the largest mall in Helsinki, has a new tenant for the next few weeks: a pop-up café named Kauko.
At first glance, the café looks pretty ordinary; it sells coffee, snacks and offers WiFi access. The catch here is a big one. Every aspect of the store’s ambience, from the customer service, height of tables and chairs, to lighting and music, is controlled remotely, online, in real-time.
An Internet café controlled by Internet users. The café’s name is a subtle clue: in Finnish, the word Kauko means remote control.
GP UdstillningsDesign built the café, along with Perfect Fools and Finnish agency Hasan & Partners.
The café is traveling throughout Finland to celebrate Helsinki as “World Design Capital 2012” and illustrate the importance of design in everyday events, including the simple, daily interactions most people take for granted.
Users who visit YouDesign.fi can control the café and watch the real-time reactions of its customers.
I enjoyed controlling the tables and chairs this morning. Tables can shoot extremely high or low, and so can the chairs, and consumers either get a kick out of this or a little miffed.
The best bet is to keep your coffee in the middle of the table and hope you aren’t holding your beverage when your chair moves.
My favorite part was watching how consumers react to the napkin dispensers and milk containers. Each was intentionally designed poorly, making them difficult to use. The hole for the napkin dispenser was too small, causing napkins to rip when pulled. The milk dispenser had a hooked shape, making pouring difficult.
Check out World Design Helsinki’s notebook page, where users can upload pictures of everyday objects that play an un-thanked role in everyday life.