IDIYA sits at Broad and Washington in the middle of the Broadmoor neighbourhood, in the heart of New Orléans. Sandwiched between Central and Mid-City, it’s dead-centre for the entire region – good, because the patience of NOLA commuters is not infinite. That was one factor behind the disappearance of the older space, GumboLabs.
The big glass storefront has the gallery on the one side, by the entrance, and the office desk far to the other wall. Between them, the black piping and lacquered wood of the central workbenches, clean, mostly clear, and ready for any of the 60 or so members to use!
With the benefit of a generous landlord, the environs of IDIYA are prime expansion room, and already the backyard has been turned into a bit of a sculpture garden. In addition to the original shop space, they’re also setting up the building next door as a woodshop (which was freshly painted right before my visit), and then they’re putting up a metal shop behind that, in a quintessential Louisiana steel shed that looks to need some cleaning first.
In the main building, there’s the obligatory general-purpose laser cutter and 3D printer bank (including a CubePro Trio that has never worked), but the most fascinating piece of equipment they have is a huge cartesian 3D scanner which can do a full-body scan in just 20 seconds, perfect for fashion designs!
The central workshop is open, dominated by long, standing-height desks with gantries holding lights and equipment. Stage lighting bounces off the walls and ceilings, giving it a hip, studio feel. Scattered in the centre of the space are various projects, like the quadcopter hanging up on a post. There’s a CNC mill that’s totally encapsulated in an anti-dust tomb, freshly blackened from a session with a block of graphite. A 40-watt laser cutter sits at the heart of the main workshop, ready to chew up custom swatches of fabric. A pair of classic sewing machines and mannequins sit next to the vinyl cutter, rounding out the machinery for bespoke clothes.
IDIYA is not shy of commerce, being a for-profit shop. It’s been a launchpad for entrepreneurs, and has itself managed to net a few design and modelling jobs away from the professionals at places like Entrescan. The other thing that sets IDIYA apart is that it’s a real school! A homeschool alliance meets at the space, with a sui generis STEAM curriculum. I can just hear the Phoebes now: “At my old school, we would make own own on the computer…” What an engaging, fun place to be able to learn!