Tag Archives: Xinchejian

A closer look at China’s Maker Movement

David Li, co-founder of Shanghai’s first Maker Space (XinCheJian), recently told The Economist that the Maker Movement is helping to inspire the creation of legitimate and innovative products, as socially progressive Makers team up with more traditional manufacturers in China.

According to the publication, Maker spaces such as XinCheJian are supported by monthly membership fees and operate independently of the state. Although expats played a major role in kicking off XinCheJian, more recent Maker Spaces such as Beijing’s Maxpace and Shenzhen’s Chaihuo are entirely home-grown.

Another example of China’s rapidly evolving Maker Movement is the Shenzhen-based Seeed Studio which specializes in open-source hardware. Seeed also supports an entire ecosystem of open-source production, with members pitching ideas on the company’s website. Over 130 projects were successfully crowd-sourced in 2012 – numbers that are expected to double in 2013.

Eric Pan, the founder of Seeed Studio, quit his tech-industry job way back in 2008 to design hardware with a friend in their respective apartments. Since then, Pan has achieved a rock-star status of sorts among young Chinese geeks. Indeed, Seeed now employs more than 100 people and has expanded its range of products to include wearable electronics and a new generation of sensors.

Unsurprisingly, Chinese government officials are taking a keen interest in the Maker Movement due to its economic and educational potential. To be sure, Shanghai’s municipal government has backed plans to build 100 Maker Spaces throughout the city. Each location is slated to be equipped with a 3D printer and will host staff to help visitors with traditional crafts such as woodworking.

As the Economist concludes, China’s distinctive take on the Maker Movement – Makers with Chinese characteristics, to paraphrase Deng Xiaoping – is definitely worth keeping an eye on.

China’s Maker Movement is rapidly evolving

Writing for the Wall Street Journal, Emily Parker confirms that the wildly popular DIY Maker Movement is gaining serious ground in China. As readers of Bits & Pieces know, Makers often gather at hackerspaces, or makerspaces, real-world locations where they can learn and work together.

Unsurprisingly, there are over a dozen spaces dedicated to Makers in China, a figure that is expected to significantly increase in the near future. One such Maker space is Xinchejian, or “new workshop.”

Founded in 2010, the space is located in a rented Shanghai warehouse, although a DIY Pop Up version of Xinchejian fashioned out of shipping container recently made its first successful appearance at the Creative Faire in Shanghai. According to the Xinchejian team, the space attracted numerous visitors interested in 3D printing, robotics, Atmel-powered Arduino boards and Maker Culture.

Taiwan-born David Li, a 40-year-old programmer and a co-founder of Xinchejian, told the WSJ he wants to lower the barriers for experimentation and play.

“It’s not about getting together a group of geeks doing something. [Rather], it’s a conduit for people to say, ‘This interactive stuff is not that scary, not that difficult,'” he explained. “The policy makers we meet here are genuinely very curious. They have the resources. They are not afraid to try. They could build bridges to nowhere and they will still have a job.”

Indeed, Makers may very well develop the next groundbreaking technology, or at least that is the hope of Chinese policy makers.

“Chinese industry has to change. It has to migrate to the next stage,” Benjamin Koo, an associate professor of industrial engineering at Beijing’s Tsinghua University, told the WSJ. “Right now it’s purely contract-based. We execute what other people design.”

Seeed Studio in Shenzhen is another outpost for China’s Maker Movement, with the company’s posters featuring Che Guevara calling for people to come together and “challenge the hegemony of industrialized mass production in an unprecedented way.”

“China is on the way. The first time you learn to write, you cannot write novels. You have to copy from the textbook to learn to write A, B, C, D,” said Seeed founder Eric Pan. “When designs go big, the traditional manufacturer will have new products to make. We are providing more candidates.”

As we’ve previously discussed on Bits & Pieces, the evolving DIY Maker Movement is a global phenomenon, limited only by the imagination of an individual. Indeed, as The Verge’s Adrianne Jeffries recently noted, it is now all but “impossible” to deny that DIY is in.

“Every part of the ‘Maker movement,’ a big-tent phenomenon that covers everything from homemade jewelry to homemade drones, is booming,” Jeffries wrote. “Outside of the Make Media empire, there’s been an explosion of crowdfunded maker projects on Kickstarter and Indiegogo. On the other end of the business spectrum, [the Atmel-powered] MakerBot, one of the best-known companies in the Maker Movement, was just bought by a public company for $604 million.”

According to Jeffries, it makes perfect sense that Making is trendy right now, as Maker culture encourages empowerment: skill over money, building over buying, creation over consumption.

“The maker movement covers bicycles that generate electricity, art projects that light up when you press a button and the enormous genre of how-to videos on YouTube. It’s in line with the eco-friendly and buy local movements, the back-to-artisanal aesthetic and the geek worship that are also part of the post-aught zeitgeist,” he added.

Xinchejian builds a Makerspace in a shipping container

Recently, Bits & Pieces ran an article about how the city of Baltimore is filling up with DIY spaces where Makers, hackers and modders can to share ideas, tools and projects. Besides the Hackerspace (founded in 2009), there is The Node in the Station North Arts District, Fab Lab, Unallocated Space and the Baltimore Foundery.

Unsurprisingly, the international Maker Movement is also taking China by storm, with the Xinchejian crew constructing a “Pop Up” DIY space in a shipping container as part of Make+, a non-profit art and technology program headquartered in Shanghai, China. The DIY Pop Up recently made its first successful appearance at the Creative Faire in Shanghai.

According to the Xinchejian team, the ‘space attracted numerous visitors interested in 3D printing, robotics, Atmel-powered Arduino boards and Maker Culture. The Xinchejian Makerspace won’t be dismantled, however, as it is slated to kick off a tour around China after the Shanghai Maker Faire on Oct 19-20.

Check out some of the pictures below to see more of the ‘space built in a re-purposed shipping container.