Enjoy arts, crafts and coffee at Kedai KL Creative Center

The past few months have been busy at Kedai KL, a craft market located on Mahsa Avenue in Kuala Lumpur.

The recent celebration of International Women’s Day saw Kedai KL roll out an NFT exhibition, featuring a selection of female artists, while the recent Woman Up! The arts and crafts bazaar has seen the venue’s support for small businesses.

To Kedai KL, the mission is to bring together local entrepreneurs, artists, designers and makers in a “street market concept” alley, focusing on homegrown products and businesses. It launched in late 2019 and, like so many other art and lifestyle establishments, it took a hit during the pandemic.

“As a craft market, we would like to introduce the idea that the arts are not just about works on canvas, but can be so much more. We offer different forms of art, through tattoo parlour, handmade accessories, fashion, beauty salon, hair salon and even F&B outlets,” says Adam Rasyid, Site Manager Kedai KL.

“In addition to the 40 brands here, we hold monthly bazaars with more than 20 brands from different arts and lifestyle categories participating each time,” he adds.

The Lorong, the center court of Kedai KL, is where arts and crafts bazaars and other events take place every month. Photo: Kedai KL

Workshops, art and photography exhibitions, and live performances are also part of the program as Kedai KL gradually rebuilds and returns to the spotlight after two long years of pandemic disruption.

For art lovers, the digital art gallery (DAG) by Filamen is a must-visit destination for new media. It is a place where digital artists can present their work, organized by Filamen (a digital and multimedia arts company) and other selected curators.

Over the past two months, DAG presented two eye-catching exhibitions integrating immersive projection and NFT art. the Accelerated Futurescapes: The Arteon Collection last month, two artists predicted the future of art, space and technology. The show, organized by Filamen and Volkswagen Malaysia, featured the works of Syed Muhammad and Jason Choo.

At Kedai KL's RekaBox, visitors can sign up for weekly arts and crafts workshops.  Photo: Kedai KL At Kedai KL’s RekaBox, visitors can sign up for weekly arts and crafts workshops. Photo: Kedai KL

Earlier this month, eight female digital artists were featured – on-site and virtually – at the collective exhibition Break The Bias, presented by DAG. The paid exhibition, launched to coincide with International Women’s Day (March 8), featured a series of new digital artworks, visual projections and NFT art highlighting a world free from prejudice, stereotypes and discrimination.

“We have been in the digital art scene since 2016, showcasing art events that use multimedia content, including festivals such as Urbanscapes and George Town Festival,” says Filamen co-founder Abdul Shakir Abu Samah.

“Over these years, we realized that to help future local artists support themselves, a new way of doing business was needed. At DAG, we want to showcase contemporary artists working in digital art, including NFT artists. In the past, major galleries struggled to attract crowds for niche artworks, but today, with NFT platforms like Pentas, digital artists have the opportunity to build their support network online and will find people who are willing to invest in them. As a small gallery space, DAG provides an on-site experience for the public to experience digital art,” he adds.

Digital Art Gallery by Filamen is a place where digital artists can showcase their work.  Photo: Kedai KL Digital Art Gallery by Filamen is a place where digital artists can showcase their work. Photo: Kedai KL

DAG has proven to be a popular spot in Kedai KL, attracting digital art enthusiasts and the curious Instagram-savvy masses. With a full year to come, Shakir hopes to maintain DAG’s recovery momentum by presenting more digital art projects and exhibitions.

“Starting March 16, we have a Supercodex audio-visual exhibit called split the moon. There will be digital projection and lights capturing a trippy view of space and technology. Combined with audio support from Martian Backline, it will be an immersive experience for visitors,” says Shakir.

Other names that have settled in Kedai KL include Buku by PJ Preloved, a self-service bookstore whose mission is to reuse second-hand books and spread the love of books at affordable prices; The Sambar Incident, an independent design brand inspired by Malaysian Indian culture and heritage; and the multi-brand store Ark Workshop and Lifestyle, with its creative products such as fashion and accessories, including an in-house range of candles and fragrances.

Buku by PJ Preloved House, which opened last month, is an entirely self-service establishment. The bookstore, which is a cashless outfit, provides a relaxed environment for book readers, and inventory is replenished regularly.

Customers at Buku by PJ Preloved, a low-cost self-service bookstore in Kedai KL.  Photo: Buku Customers at Buku by PJ Preloved, a low-cost self-service bookstore in Kedai KL. Photo: Buku

“In the space of a month since it opened, we have sold over a thousand books and visited hundreds of people. It is a testament to our faith in humanity. Self-service opportunity is an experience for us. . An experience of trust and innovation. And we are happy that it has paid off so far. There is a long way to go, but we will do our best to continuously improve, experiment and innovate,” reads a statement from Buku per Maison d’occasion PJ.

If you’re a fan of local cafe culture and new talent from barista schools, Kedai KL also offers several places to relax and have a cup of tea before resuming your busy day.

For that all-important Instagram photo, the venue also has plenty of photo-worthy corners to explore.

“There is always something new to discover at Kedai”, promises Adam.

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