Experiential + The Case for Creative Making

MakeLab brings future fabrication tools to events around the world, delivering hands-on design experiences that draw in and entertain sophisticated guests and clients. Through the six hundred creative experiences we’ve designed, delivered, and staffed, we’ve discovered that encouraging people to create and make is an immensely powerful experience that people remember and share.



A Thousand Live Laser Fabricated Custom Bow Ties, Designed on Microsoft Surface by Attendees at Toronto Fashion Week

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“Mercedes Me” Live Engraved Selfies on Keychains for the Canadian International Auto Show

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Creating Personal Analog Instagrams on a Massive Photography Light Table for Timberland


Trading Cocktails for Laser Cutters: Designers Show Off Their Chops with Adobe XD


Using an Industrial Laser as a Creme Brulee Torch for Microsoft’s World Partner Conference Closing Night Party


A Giant Street-Style Digital Graffiti Mural for Adidas at the SOHO House



Fabricated Custom Bow Ties, Designed on Microsoft Surface by Attendees at Toronto Fashion Week

Client: Microsoft

Agency Partner: Mosaic Sales Solutions

Venue / Event: World MasterCard Fashion Week

Challenge: Show the fashion industry that the Microsoft Surface is a serious creative tool, and deliver a fashion and design experiential interactive worthy of high-calibre designers.

Microsoft was launching the new Surface Pro 4, and looking to highlight Surface’s credentials as a powerful creative tool. The brand decided on an experiential footprint at Toronto Fashion Week, and needed an authentically engaging activation for Canada’s fashion community that fit the high bar of a premier fashion event.

Concept: Get fashion designers to use Surface to design and fabricate a bow tie or pendant for an indelible creative experience.

Our team designed an experience that brought our laser cutter to the floor of Fashion Week. We worked with Microsoft’s experiential agency Mosaic to create an interactive wherein attendees and designers could design a bow tie or pendant on Surface, and watch as their piece was laser fabricated live out of wood. A vegan leather strap or chain completed each item, allowing guests to wear them right away at the event itself.

Execution: Delivered 1,100 bespoke design experiences, keeping Microsoft’s event area packed from open to close.

The footprint was packed from open to close each day of Fashion Week. Microsoft Surface powered the experience end to end — from hands-on guest designing, to operating the actual industrial laser cutter — underscoring Surface as an impressively versatile and powerful tool. To further highlight the tech, Makelab’s creative director was invited to speak to the press on how Surface was utilized across the interactive. Virtually every participant captured the experience on social, generating hundreds of thousands of impressions well beyond the show floor. The following week, Microsoft brought in the MakeLab team in to replicate the experience at their corporate headquarters for their own staff.


“MakeLab designed a fabrication process that was high-touch and deeply engaging, and hit the throughput and KPIs we needed. Their team worked with ours to develop the experience end to end, guiding guests on designing on Surface, through live-laser fabrication, to a concierge station where guests added final touches to their fashion item. An experience like this requires a deep creative and logistical partnership; it’s not a typical agency-vendor relationship. The client was thrilled with the results.”

— Rachel Noonan, Former Associate Creative Director, Strategy and Ideation, Mosaic. Current Director Of Audience Development, Toronto International Film Festival.


Experiences Delivered // 1,100

Hands-On-Surface Design Time // 7.5m

Guest Engagement Time // 15m

Social Impressions // 500,000

SpreadsheetS Demonstrated // NONE


“Mercedes Me” Live Engraved Selfies on Keychains for the Canadian International Auto Show

Client: Mercedes

Agency Partner: BBDO

Venue / Event: International Auto Show

Challenge: Drive home the benefits of the “Mercedes Me” system, and leave a lasting impression with guests.

Mercedes was launching their new Mercedes Me platform, a digital platform that gives owners access to vehicle data and personally tailored service. Mercedes needed an interactive for the 2018 Toronto and Montreal International Auto Shows that would entice guests to learn about the new Mercedes Me functionality, and underscore the personalized nature of the platform.

Concept: Autoshow experiential interactive featuring customized keychains that people could engrave their selfies on.

The winning idea was a photobooth experience where guests could have their photos live laser-engraved into a Mercedes-branded keepsake. Like Mercedes Me, the experience would let people take Mercedes hardware and make it decidedly their own.

Execution: Guests packed the Mercedes footprint open till close. While waiting for their custom lasered keychains, Mercedes ambassadors engaged and delivered their message.

Guests were welcomed into the experience by our design team. With a selfie-tablet in hand, each guest was able to snap a shot of themselves in front of a professional lighting setup. When done, each keychain was laser engraved with their photo. To help Mercedes staff deliver their message, we designed a workflow that kept guests in the booth for a few minutes between selfie-taking and lasering, so that the key benefits of Mercedes Me could be communicated. The photo booth generated a lineup from open to close each day of the Autoshow, generating additional clout and interest in Mercedes’ footprint.


Experiences Delivered // 16,500

Average Guest Selfie Time // 1m

Average Guest Engagement Time // 7.5m

Most Common Selfie Face // Giddy Smile


Creating Personal Analog Instagrams on a Massive Photography Light Table for Timberland

Client: Timberland

Agency Partner: trevor//peter

Venue / Event: Product launch

Challenge: Offer a creative activity for guests, themed to photography and fashion.

Timberland was throwing a special collection launch party at a gallery venue. The brand was partnering with well known photographers, and wanted more than just a showroom of products; they wanted experiences that were visually compelling and resonated with a photography light-room theme.

Concept: Analog Instagram Light Table Activation.

We developed an interactive that was one part photography studio, one part photo booth. Fitting with the photography theme, the light table was used to provide not only an interactive guest experience, but also act as a visual anchor in an aesthetically pleasing footprint.

Execution: Bring a giant light table, and let guests mix-and match layers of imagery to create their own unique analog instagrams.

We bought a 5 x 4 foot photography light table and hundreds of themed images on transparent squares. Entering the room, guests were immediately attracted to the light table shining upwards onto the crowd standing nearby. Groups of people crowded around the table and layered the images together to create unique “analog instagrams”. When ready, they placed them on a vintage overhead projector, creating a personalized step-and-repeat photo background. Several hundred guests created their own analog instagrams while selfies were taken, printed on-site, and digitally shared. The light table was a magnet for social media too, with guests taking shots of the colourful light table surface as they were creating their piece.


Experiences Delivered // 700

Average Guest Selfie TimE // 3m

Average Guest Engagement Time at Activation // 5m

Nostalgic Overhead Projector-Related Memories Recalled // 700


Trading Cocktails for Laser Cutters: Designers Show Off Their Chops with Adobe XD

Client: Adobe

Venue / Event: Adobe MAX, The Edison, Los Angeles

Challenge: Create an experience for the top UX designers in North America, that shows off the capabilities of Adobe’s new prototyping platform, XD.

Adobe MAX is the company’s premier annual conference, attracting 15,000 designers and creative industry leaders from around the world to Los Angeles for a week of classes and collaboration. As part of MAX, Adobe hosted an exclusive event for select UX leaders at the top of their craft and profession, and fully-sponsored guests’ trips to attend the conference. Adobe wanted to feature an interactive experience at the event that highlighted their new prototyping platform, Adobe XD.

Concept: Let guests design physical product prototypes using Adobe XD, then laser-fabricate them out of wood while they capture on social media.

The concept the Adobe and MakeLab teams landed on was to put design in the hands of the designers using Adobe XD in a new way: let them create physical product prototypes of pins, coasters or other wooden takeaways. Designers would use Adobe XD to design objects that we would then laser-fabricate out of wood at the event.

“What?! We’re using XD – a digital prototyping application – to design physical objects??” -- Our lead designer, Joanna Lepiesza, after our initial chat with Adobe’s team.

While Adobe XD is an incredible tool for designing and prototyping digital applications (websites, mobile apps, voice interactions, and touchscreens), unlike Adobe Illustrator it’s not meant to be used for physical design. Our technical fabrication team developed a workflow where guests could design objects in XD using a library of pre-designed themed elements, have it specially prepared for our laser by our on-site events team, and lasered live at the event.

Execution: 170 guests designed and fabricated their own product to keep.

We set up four XD design stations, a laser fabrication station, and a concierge fitting table. We worked with Adobe ahead of the event to incorporate a design library thematic to Adobe MAX. Guests sat down at a design station, placed their cocktails close by, spent about 10 minutes designing their custom pieces, and watched as their custom pieces were sliced and engraved into wood. At the concierge fitting table, our team added chain, ribbon, and other elements to ensure the pieces looked great and could be worn and used right away. The design experience was packed for the entire evening.


Number of Design Stations // 4

Objects Designed // 170

Average Engagement Time // 15m

Total Time Design Stations Empty // 0


Using an Industrial Laser as a Creme Brulee Torch for Microsoft’s World Partner Conference Closing Night Party

Client: Microsoft

Agency Partner: Mosaic

Venue / Event: Microsoft World Partner Conference (WPC)

Challenge: Show WPC guests something they’ve never seen, that speaks to the Future of Tech.

Toronto was playing host to Microsoft's Worldwide Partner Conference. Microsoft was looking for a never-before-seen interactive to engage guests at their closing night party at one of Toronto’s top outdoor venues.

Concept: Use an industrial-grade laser cutter like a restaurant creme brulee torch, and caramelize designs guests made themselves.

We thought we’d bring our laser cutter to the centre of the event, and set up a design bar with several Microsoft Surface design stations. Guests would freehand draw, or drag-and-drop pre-designed themed artifacts. When ready, designs would be sent to our laser cutter, which we’d use to caramelize designs into colourful french macarons. (Despite the case title, macarons are not creme brulee’s of course, but the caramelization effect is similar).

Execution: Hundreds of cute-as-hell boxed and branded macarons, all designed on Surface.

With five design stations and one of our three laser cutters, we were able to serve sixty guests an hour. Each guest walked away with a boxed confection of their own making. Branded packaging allowed guests to bring their custom macaron home as a gift, though of course many guests enjoyed them on-site. The experience utilized Surface at every step, from design to the operation of the laser cutter, showing off Surface as a powerful tool, and the focus of a delightful experience for guests.


“Who uses lasers to caramelize food? Clients usually take their time approving ideas — not this time. The activation was inventive and phenomenally popular in the client pitch and event itself, especially so in that it incorporated the client’s flagship device at the heart of the experience. We had a 15 minute lineup from the moment doors opened and it continued to close.”

— Bart Gordon, Senior Account Director, Mosaic


Experiences Delivered // 300

Average Guest Hands-On-Surface Design Time // 5m

Average Guest Engagement Time at Activation // 7.5m

Most Popular Macaron Flavour // Salted Caramel Obviously


A Giant Street-Style Digital Graffiti Mural for Adidas at the SOHO House

Client: Adidas

Agency Partner: Pique

Venue / Event: Photography Exhibition, SOHO House

Challenge: Provide a creative outlet for artists in the audience.

Adidas and Pique were collaborating on an exhibition dubbed “Recess”, featuring five groups of Toronto creatives and photographers for an elevated street-style photoshoot. Aside from the artists and featured DJ’s, artists across the city were invited. Pique and Adidas wanted a platform for guests to create live work.

Concept: Create a 10-foot wide digital graffiti canvas, give guests digital graffiti spray paint cans, watch what happens.

We’d bring our giant digital colouring book wall and work with event partner Pique to create canvas options for the street-art theme. Guests would pass around digital paint cans, collaborating on original artwork throughout the event. When finished, guests could use social sharing tablets to digitally share their work.

Execution: A collaborative live graffiti performance art throughout the evening.

Upwards of 30 unique pieces were created during the five-hour event. Well-known street artists in attendance created elaborate pieces of their own, some taking fifteen minutes to create their own intricate mural. The interactive became a live graffiti performance, drawing from the talent of the crowd, and enjoyed by guests as they gathered around to watch.


“There’s an authenticity critical to the Adidas brand that we needed to weave deeply into the fabric of this event. The photographers we commissioned, the music performed, and ultimately the graffiti interactive, were all selected in the pursuit of that value. MakeLab’s on-site team knew how to engage the crowd in a way that encouraged participation, but skillfully avoided a mode of engagement pervasive in experiential which can often seem contrived. The result was an extremely engaged audience, and a great event. It was the most guests SOHO had seen at an event; it sold out, and had a huge line all night. Adidas was incredibly happy and the event created a ton of brand awareness and relevance amongst youth and influencers.

— Shale Laietmark, Partner, Pique


Experiences Delivered // 30 original creative works, with 500 close observers

Average Graffiti Painting Time // 8m

Social Media Impressions // 250,000

Paint Spills // None, it was digital spray paint!