Cambridge company makes Awesome use of cutting-edge technology


Boston Herald Story

By Jenna Scherer
Saturday, July 16, 2011

The name grabs you instantly: Danger!Awesome.

But what is it that they do exactly? That takes some explaining.

Danger!Awesome is a new place in Cambridge’s Central Square where awesome things really do happen. The centerpiece of the Prospect Street storefront is a trio of high-end laser cutters, which can etch just about any image you can think of in just about any material. For $2 per minute or a variety of fixed rates, you can “tattoo” your laptop, smartphone, sneakers, skateboard or whatever else you can imagine.

“If you go into a Starbucks or Kinko’s, everybody knows what you’re going to get. There’s already a need. But how do you tell people that you can do anything?” said Ali Mohammad, one of the co-founders.

Danger!Awesome is the brainchild of Mohammad and Nadeem Mazen, who met as students at Massachusetts Institute of Technology and now work together at the digital video and design company Serious Business.

Now they’ve got Danger! Awesome, too. The idea for the venture came when Mazen was a member of MIT Media Lab and a friend tipped him off that power-pop band OK Go — renowned for innovative, quirky music videos — was on the hunt for a new concept.

Mazen and Mohammad worked with the quartet to produce a video for their ballad “Last Leaf” — a stop-motion animation made using 3,000-odd laser-etched pieces of toast. As payment, they got to keep the laser cutters, pieces of very expensive equipment.

The duo decided to share the exotic but easy-to-operate technology with the community. They found an open retail storefront in the heart of Central Square and Danger!Awesome was born.

“I’m very excited about the community that exists here — the energy, the flavor,” Mazen said. “We saw this as an opportunity to really make a community space where people can feel at home and build on whatever cool projects everyone else is doing. And having access to these machines is such a big part of that.”

In the future, Mazen and Mohammad hope to further expand Danger!Awesome’s roster of awesome dangerous projects to include 3-D design and do-it-yourself furniture making. They also plan to collaborate with local artists to create a look-book of pieces that customers can get etched on their possessions.

Mazen figures that because people are so attached to their gadgets, they might as well make them their own. “People identify with all of these objects. They’re spending every day with their phone. It’s a part of them. It has their stuff, but it doesn’t reflect their personality. We think this is a way to build identity,” he said.

So far, they’ve laser-etched everything from iPads and pocket-knives to pants and wooden plates.

“We love the idea of surrounding yourself with art,” Mohammad said. “The first time I got to use one of these machines, it really changed my vision of what was possible. We want everyone to come in and try them out.”

Danger!Awesome, 10 Prospect St., Cambridge. 857-654-6556; danger

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