No calls, no texts, no WiFi at experimental Vancouver coffee shop
Faraday Café in Vancouver has three big draws: conversation, a cage, and coffee.
Conversation is possible (or forced) because there is no cellphone service or Wi-Fi at the café. Customers sit in a carefully constructed dead-zone, an eight-by-16-foot cage made of wire mesh. Phone and Internet signals can’t pass through the cage walls.
The coffee is freshly ground, and patrons pay by donation.
“You can come for a coffee, you can hang out in a cage, have a chat with people, put your phone away, not have to worry about it buzzing or making any noises while you’re here,” said Julien Thomas, the Vancouver artist who designed the café.
Thomas got the idea and the name after a friend told him about Faraday cages, structures which repel electromagnetic signals. Air, light, and sounds can all still travel through the walls.
Faraday Café is the latest in a line of experimental “social art projects” by Thomas.
“I’m interested in the interactions that can take place in certain scenarios,” he said.
In Faraday Café, Thomas said, people might find it hard at first to completely disconnect. “There might be a sense of anxiety…but that’s not a bad thing.”
The café is part of a growing number of businesses that are offering customers a chance to unplug over food and drinks. Another Vancouver restaurant, The Score, offers lock boxes where customers can stash away their phones for the evening.
Though Faraday Café is only open temporarily, until July 16, Thomas hopes it will give people a chance to reflect on the roles phone and Internet play in their lives.
“I’m not saying that we should get rid of our phone. I just think we need to be a little more thoughtful in when we use them and how we use them,” he said.
From CTV Vancouver's Scott Hurst and Andrew Weichel.