This past Saturday, November 7, I visited the China Century Monument Square to attend the Beijing Mini Maker Faire. Although it was the first time for the event in Beijing, the atmosphere was quite lively.
For me, the most interesting highlight came from the blend of Western innovation and Chinese tradition.
The Faire had four sections: exhibits, forums, stage performances, and workshops. Each section featured a mixture of new and old, like a small robot from Intel and some Chinese traditional handicrafts, such as candy blowing using brown sugar dough to create candy figurines. Arduino and 3D printing exhibits were featured along with Chinese silk embroidery. Exhibits for virtual reality glasses stood side by side with face painting from the Beijing (Peking) Opera.
Western innovation was very popular because some of the Chinese exhibitors were able to apply some of the Western designs and material choices into traditional Chinese styles in jewelry. These exhibits had the largest crowds, so there’s a clear connection for the Chinese consumer to these new ideas, and I am really interested in seeing how this develops in the future.
But one of the most interesting combinations came when I entered a crowded exhibit tent. On one side, a group of children were busy polishing handmade wooden pieces like music boxes, rings, and kitchen utensils. The pieces were beautifully made. On the other side of the tent, another group of children were huddling around a 3D printer. They were deep in discussions about what models they would create and some were very eager to start designing as soon as they could get home. It was so great that both these exhibits were able to find a strong audience.
Before I left, I sought out the Faire organizers and asked them about their future plans. They plan to run it again in the third quarter of 2016, so I’m marking my calendar!
As these new and old, Chinese and Western ideas continue to blend together, the exhibits in the coming years can only be ever more spectacular and amazing.