The IFTF Blog
Maker City Shenzhen: Global Hub for Makers and Manufacturers
As part of our Maker Cities research, we’re thrilled to visit Shenzhen, China this week, where IFTF’s Eri Gentry and Lyn Jeffery will be speaking at the Shenzhen Maker Faire (April 6-7). To celebrate the trip and give a peek into our research process, this post brings together four of our China + makers research pieces from the last three years, which provide a grounding for anyone interested in why Shenzhen is such a cool maker city!
Note: for the PowerPoints, please see the Notes page for a full-text narration.
Creativity with Chinese Characteristics (PowerPoint, IFTF Technology Horizons, Spring 2012) | An overview of the changing attitudes toward creativity, design, and manufacturing taking place in China today. “Think of the most mechanistic, imitative, counterfeit-ridden sector in the world—Chinese manufacturing—and now reframe it as a force that is realigning innovation and creativity, linking entrepreneurs, designers and makers to a whole set of capacities that support the growth of new businesses, products, and services. That’s the forecast that we’re making with this presentation.”
Mining Innovation from an Unexpected Source: Lessons from the Shanzhai (PowerPoint) | Built from research done for our 2011 Open Fabrication report, this talk was presented at business forums in 2012 and 2013 and at SXSW in 2013. “The broadest definition of shanzhai and a good way to think about them is as small, independent operators in the informal, or underground, or gray economy. We don’t see as much of the informal economy here in the U.S., but that is a major factor in the economies of developing countries around the world. So the shanzhai don’t pay taxes, they don’t obey licensing agreements, they don’t necessarily follow labor laws. They don’t have to pay for R&D, or promote their brand, or pass mandated quality assurance tests. There are a lot of things that they avoid by going rogue. Even though they’re bandits, the shanzhai are addressing a huge, unmet demand for affordable products that the legitimate companies either don’t want to serve, or are unable to serve.”
Made in China: Eric Pan and Open-source Hardware (Boing Boing interview with Eric Pan, CEO and founder of Seeed Studio, and the organizer of the Shenzhan Maker Faire) | “Maker culture is being remade in China. Along with pioneers like Bunnie Huang and David Li, of Shanghai hackerspace Xinchejian, Eric Pan and his open hardware facilitator Seeed Studio are accelerating the global maker movement by helping people source, design, produce, and commercialize their maker projects. And just as importantly, they are fueling a Chinese maker movement that is starting to take full advantage of both Shenzhen’s awesome manufacturing capacities and China’s shanzhai superpowers.”
Innovation Spaces of the Future: Research Notes on China’s Shanzhai Meeting the Makers (2011) | A freewheeling conversation on the emerging innovation space in Shenzhen, convened by IFTF, with pioneers Bunnie Huang (@bunniestudios), David Li (@Xinchejian and @taweili), Eric Pan (@SeeedStudio), and Jon Philips (@Fabricatorz).
This post is part of IFTF's Maker Cities Immersions, journeys into the maker cultures of Mexico City, Shenzhen, and New York City with our Technology Horizons program. Contact Sean Ness (firstname.lastname@example.org) for more information.