Shoppers create their own bento box designs with Roland VersaSTUDIO BT-12

What do you want for lunch? Maybe a bento box – on a T-shirt or a canvas bag? At an event in Chiba, Japan, shoppers were invited to create their own design based on food typically found in Japanese lunch boxes, which were printed there and then onto cotton products using Roland VersaSTUDIO BT-12 super-compact direct-to-garment printers

The bento-themed design store was hosted by Makers' Base, an organisation with workshops in Chiba and Tokyo filled with tools and kit for woodworking, metalworking, ceramics, sewing, textiles and printing. The membership-only shared spaces encourage people to get making and selling, with support from specialists. The Makers' Base team also heads out to share their ideas, getting the public involved as creators as much as customers.

Personalised garments being produced at the bento-themed design store

Menu showing choices available

This time Makers' Base set up a pop-up shop, designed to look like a traditional lunchbox stall, in the Sogo Chiba department store. Shoppers were invited to make a selection from over 100 different kinds of food artwork – from a bento menu, naturally – to create a one-of-a-kind picture of a bento box. Menu choices included rice, fish, milk, mayonnaise, egg, fruit and local produce like peanuts.

"Ordinary customers might find 'creating your own design' to be a challenge, and they may think it is too difficult or they lack an artistic design sense, but they have no problem selecting what dishes they like eating," says Junpei Matsuda, COO of Makers' Base. "We created the service to take out the tricky parts of the design process and to make everything fun. We worked with our designers to create a range of different foods that everyone can enjoy."

Colourful key chains were displayed in bowls

Tote bags had unique designs printed using the VersaSTUDIO BT-12

Makers' Base staff then printed these unique designs onto cotton T-shirts, tote bags or sacoche cross-body bags on Roland VersaSTUDIO BT-12 printers for customers to take home. Some bags even had an extra finishing touch: a colourful key chain printed with UV printers, in more food designs cleverly displayed in bowls.

The BT-12 is a really handy solution for printing full-colour, sharp images and text directly on cotton, canvas and cotton-mix fabrics. Its small size, fast speeds and ease of use makes it perfect for pop-up shops and events.

Cotton T-shirts were printed with unique bento box designs
"We have been using Roland DG's UV printers and other products at our workshops, and recently began using the BT-12 direct-to-garment printer," says Junpei Matsuda. "This makes it so easy to print onto cotton-based products, and I think the initial investment and printing time are just right. It is the ideal product for these types of events or for providing customisation services."

Matsuda-san adds that Makers' Base ran a similar event in Germany where people loved the opportunity to create their own – sadly not edible – Japanese lunch boxes, so look out for the bento stall in EMEA.