I posted a while ago about the conflict between creating a healthy cafe culture and offering customers free wi-fi access inside a coffee shop. One solution I’m sympathetic to is shutting it off on weekends, but I also expressed an interest in finding ways of using technology to build community. A new Nashville coffee shop called Edgehill Studios seems to be doing just that:
Every day, technology brings people closer together yet farther apart. While e-mail can be sent across the globe, interpersonal communication with your neighbor can seem harder and harder in today’s wired world.
Edgehill Studios, a recently opened café at 1201 Villa Place in the Music Row area, hopes to reverse that trend. The café combines the old-fashioned feel of a neighborhood coffee shop with today’s latest technology in music, art and graphic design.
The café’s atmosphere illustrates this combination. A plasma screen TV with scrolling photography adorns one of the art-covered walls. An iPod bar, which allows customers to listen to others’ iPods or download their own songs, extends through the café’s center. A graphic designer uses the latest technology to design a variety of customer needs that can be printed at the café…
Music lovers can hear a variety of genres at the iPod bar. By plugging in, the bar allows as many as three customers to listen to the same iPod or mp3 player. They can also peruse the café’s Internet server to see if any music, art, short story, poem or photography is of interest.
Customers who like what they hear can legally download the music from pay sites such as iTunes or rent laptops for $7 per hour to download the music to their respective players.
“(The iPod bar) gets them in and allows them to hear local artists as well as professional recorded artists,” Poole said.
Edgehill Studios will showcase live musical acts on weekend nights. To continue trying to bring people together, in mid-July the café will start offering another drink that often does just that — beer.
Performing musicians’ songs can be previewed and will also be available on the server for purchase. In addition, the café can offer the performing artists a live CD recording of their act. For customers, the sound staff can burn an entire CD and have the graphic design department design the disk.
The article goes on to discuss how the staff can print photography and other works right there in the shop. It seems like a great way to bring people together, promote the work of local artists, and expose customers to each other’s musical tastes. I like it. My only question: How’s the coffee?
[Thanks to Chad Wilcox for the link.]