Tradition, History, and Technology at Maker Faire Beijing

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Tradition, History, and Technology at Maker Faire Beijing

beijing mf graphic

With roots dating back to the 11th century BC, the Chinese capital of Beijing is home to well over 18 million people. Last year, the sprawling metropolis joined the Maker Movement by hosting the first annual Maker Faire Beijing. In a mere four-month span of time, the intrepid organizers planned the inaugural two-day Faire, which featured 300 makers and 125 exhibits, drew 10,000 attendees, and was reported on by 30 press outlets. Clearly, the Faire resonated emphatically with the community.

This support and encouragement has been the organizing committee’s driving force in preparing for the second annual Maker Faire Beijing, taking place on August 19–21 at the China Millennium Monument, a Beijing landmark and China’s first cultural institution specializing in the collection, display, and research of world art. Maker Faire Beijing is organized by the Beijing Gehua Design Co. Ltd., with support by Tsinghua University, Intel, Microsoft, and more.

Their video from the 2015 Faire provides a window into the community:

Faire organizer Cissy Young shares the impetus for bringing Maker Faire to Beijing:

As an ancient city with a long history of culture and creation, Beijing is full of innovative design products and creative makers. All creators and inventors can share their ideas and turn their inspirations into reality. Maker Faire is the most influential celebration for maker culture and creation in the world. And Maker Faire also brings together families and individuals to celebrate the DIY mindset and showcase all kinds of incredible projects. There are lots of commonalities between Beijing and Maker Faire; therefore, we believe that Maker Faire can bring Chinese makers closer to the global community of makers to communicate and help each other for further development. At the same time, visiting Maker Faire will also inspire the local community’s enthusiasm for innovation and creation.

What uniquely defines the Chinese maker community? Young says:

Because Beijing is a historical city, makers in Beijing not only focus on innovation and creation but also integrate traditional Chinese elements into their projects. For example, they may incorporate cultural heritage handcraft skills into modern lamps and lanterns.

Young also offered us a preview of what attendees can expect at Maker Faire Beijing this year:

Just like last year, there are four main sections: Maker Booths, Workshops, the Maker Forum, and the Demo Stage. We increased the number of maker booths from 125 to 174 and workshops from 8 to 17, providing visitors more opportunities to see and do interesting things. Meanwhile, we’ve also invited well-known VIP guests to come to our Maker Forum, including Dale Dougherty, the founder of Make: magazine and Maker Faire; Paul Duggan, the TechShop Global CEO; and Fu Zhiyong, the associate director of Tsinghua University’s Information Art Design department.

The biggest difference from last year is that we set up a separate exhibition hall for the VR/AR, offering visitors a better experience when they’re playing with the VR/AR devices. Another focus of this year’s Maker Faire Beijing is maker education. We’ve invited a number of maker educators, from individuals to institutions, to participate, and they will help people acquire basic knowledge about makers. In addition, this year, we’ve created an online broadcast platform. People who cannot directly participate in the event can watch and feel it through the internet.

Below are four of the 174 exhibits that will be at Maker Faire Beijing this year, showing the vast diversity of project offerings.

High Glass

High Glass makes smart specs that allow the viewer to see in 360 degrees, creating a new way to watch videos or play video games, overcoming the limitations of small smartphone screens and fixed screens (like TV).

Dragon Rise Up

dragon rise up1
Made by young artist and engineer Sun Shiqian, Dragon Rise Up is a transformer sculpture. Shiqian has loved robots from childhood and aims to bring comic robot sculptures into museums. He is also founder of SIVTIME and leads the art department at ACTOYS. Here is the sculpture after transformation:
dragon rise up

Pipeline Maze Game

Pipeline Maze Game
Made by a group of primary school students, this game is created from used school cafeteria yogurt boxes that are constructed into interlaced pipelines, with an Arduino as the counting device. Different from most computer games, this game requires students to cooperate with each other in the physical space, improves their mental and physical abilities.

Portable Aviation Museum

portable aviation
Visitors to the Chinese Aviation Museum can access 3D models and technical parameters of the airplanes by scanning the airplanes via this app. After leaving the museum, they can still access the 3D models and information by scanning the accompanying playing cards.
portable aviation2

For all the information you need to attend Maker Faire Beijing, head to the site!

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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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