Ancient Culture + Latest Tech = Maker Faire Xi’an

Maker News
Ancient Culture + Latest Tech = Maker Faire Xi’an

How much do you know about Xi’an, China? Perhaps the name is new to you, less commonly heard than, say, Beijing, Shanghai, or — particularly in maker circles — Shenzhen. This 3,000-year-old city was the capital city for 1,077 years, through 13 dynasties. Among other wonders, it’s home to the absolutely incredible Terracotta Army, a collection of full-size funerary statues including more than 8,000 soldiers, along with chariots and over 600 horses, belonging to the first emperor of China and dating back to the late third century B.C. In beautiful juxtaposition, this weekend the city of Xi’an will also become home to the first ever Maker Faire Xi’an, where thousands of years of making will meet and greet the Maker Movement.

We have to share at least one picture of the Terracotta Army:

The Maker Faire Xi’an team put together a lovely video that shows the international flavor of Maker Faire and announces their Faire:

We spoke with lead organizer and curator Kevin Lau, who is no stranger to the Maker Movement. Lau has worked extensively with electronics and hardware startups through Seeed Studio, co-founded the Guangzhou Hackerspace, was formerly CEO of Chaihuo Makerspace, and helped bring the first Maker Faire to China in Shenzhen. He shares, “Maker Faire is more than a party. It’s a seed planted in a city, striving to grow into a big tree that yields fruits for the local maker ecosystem. It helps to draw global makers closer. It creates a stage for potential partnerships. We can wait to see this ancient city unleash its power of making.” The inaugural Maker Faire Xi’an will consist of five parts: Maker Bazaar, Maker Forum, Maker Installation, Maker Workshop, and Maker Performance.

The amazing drawings featured in this post are by local young maker and artist Icy Tan.

1. Why did you decide to organize a Faire in Xi’an?
I chose Xi’an for a couple of reasons. Xi’an is a knowledge-based economic and innovation center in Asia, the starting point of the new silk road under the national “Belt and Road” initiative, as well as a magnet to more than 200 Fortune 500 enterprises who have established their R&D centers here. This includes Intel, IBM, Schneider Electric, Siemens, GE, Bosch, Applied Materials, Toshiba, Hitachi, NEC, Brother Industries, EMC, Emerson Electric, and more.

I believe holding a Maker Faire here will ignite new sparks between cutting-edge technologies, the maker spirit, folkcraft, and traditional Chinese culture. Maker Faire Xi’an 2017 is themed “Live to Make” because we want to give more attention to the grassroots makers who could spread maker culture even further and encourage more people to join the global league of makers. Here in Xi’an, there are so many people like this to be found.

2. What organizations are involved with putting on the Faire?
First of all, I want to thank Maker Media for allowing us to hold Maker Faire Xi’an and for creating one of the best events on Earth. I’ve definitely learned a lot from other Maker Faires. Those experiences later gave birth to the idea of holding Maker Faires in Chinese cities. I also want to thank the local government. Without the great support of the city of Xi’an, Maker Faire Xi’an would not be happening. I also want to thank the Publicity Department of the Communist Party Committee of Xi’an, Xi’an Administration of Science and Technology, and the Administration Committee of Qujiang New District. They offered a great deal of help to make this happen.

I have quite a bunch of strategic partners who have been taking care of the amazing content and details. They are MakerBeta, Midou Education, Maywa Denki, British Council China, Little Inventors, and OhMy Design. During the event, we’re going to have the involvement of ThoughtWorks, Sony, DJI, ProAdvance, and Fab Lab (Beijing). Media outlets including Vice, Modern Weekly, DesignBoom, 36Kr, CSDN, BGD Design, Xi’an Daily, and Sanqin News are going to cover this event.

3. Tell us about the maker community in Xi’an.
Xi’an has a great climate for makers. There are 63 universities and colleges, most of them with engineering, design, science, and technologies-related backgrounds. It’s the third largest education base in China, graduating more than 300,000 students annually. The culture of making has found its place here since a long, long time ago.

You will see “Dynamic Kites” manufactured by 79-year-old Zhang Tianwei [pictured above], listed as an intangible cultural heritage in Shaanxi Province; a paper-making mill originating from the Han Dynasty; the “Li Yi Cheng” Wooden Cart that has existed since 1897 in the Qing Dynasty; a mini Bell Town (Xi’an’s landmark) made of sorghum, a type of northern crop; and more projects with Chinese characteristics. You can also find a younger maker community here, featuring 3D printing, smart hardware, IoT, etc. Plenty of makerspaces are visible both outside and inside schools. Our local partner, MakerBeta, is a perfect example. They not only post videos about makers online, but they do offline activities as well.

4. What can we expect to see at the Faire?
We’ll have the creator of Maker Faire Dale Dougherty, British stylist Dominic Wilcox, Swiss bio-hacking master Marc Dusseiller, American futurist and artist Steven M. Johnson, and more. You’ll also see “Little Inventors,” which helps kids bring their ideas to reality; the Nerdy Derby no-rules miniature car building and racing competition; Ars Electronica winner, Eric Siu’s “Touchy” [pictured below]; Sino-Japan FPV racing; Japanese art design and performance band Maywa Denki [pictured above]; Canadian tech-fashion show MakeFashion; EepyBird’s Coke and Mentos performance, created by two American doctors, the most well-received activity at Maker Faire Bay Area; and The British Council, along with eight excellent British makers, will their experiences, which you won’t want to miss.

5. What has the community reaction to the upcoming Faire been so far?
Our event would not take place without the support from the local maker community and the government. The maker spirit that we celebrate and cherish resonates with them very well. We chose the theme “Live to Make” in the hope of inspiring more people to make and create. This is something they feel excited about.

6. How many maker exhibits and attendees do you anticipate?
This is a free event. Based on the scale we achieved in Shenzhen, we estimate that there could be more than 100,000 people attending. We will have 160 exhibitors coming from all over the world. We also have specially invited projects. The number of perspective attendees and projects continually rises.


7. What would you say uniquely defines the Xi’an maker community?
I think Xi’an is a city that embraces the past as well as the future. Xi’an is a very unique city. It’s geographically in the center of China and in the same timezone as Beijing. It has a rich history of being the capital for 13 dynasties. The most prosperous one was the Tang Dynasty, when China became the first country in the world to reach 1 million inhabitants. Many craftsmen have passed their skills down from generation to generation. You can still see traces from the far ancient time in many modern works by the local makers. And there are millions of talented young people here to create a better future. Here, you will see the past. And here, you will see the future.

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I'm a word nerd who loves to geek out on how emerging technology affects the lexicon. I was an editor on the first 40 volumes of MAKE, and I love shining light on the incredible makers in our community. In particular, covering art is my passion — after all, art is the first thing most of us ever made. When not fawning over perfect word choices, I can be found on the nearest mountain, looking for untouched powder fields and ideal alpine lakes.

Contact me at or via @snowgoli.

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