Okay, so my trip to Beijing, Nanjing, Shanghai, Hong Kong, and Kuching, Malaysia was amazing for two reasons.
First, I received first hand status updates on the Cultures Based Innovation projects of the Bellagio Mandala group members within the region. It was moving to see how deeply they have taken on the principles of the Bellagio Mandala.
ZHOU Bo's of China Central Academy of Fine Arts showed me his historical studies of how digital technologies through image scanning and touch interfaces is leading to a resurgence in Chinese typographic learning and evolution. He also showed me the primary materials for his research on Chinese design guidelines from the 1930s and their first articulations of a nationalist Chinese approach to design.
There is also the work of the Arts Research Centre for the Olympic Games, which was the first major government effort to support Chinese-cultural based design innovations for nation branding.
Cathy HUANG of China Bridge walked me through her project with an NGO on eye-screening among the Chinese elderly and the cultural/societal barriers to their use the NGO's services. She is also starting a larger project on the Chinese rural and tier two city health systems and how they can use culturally-based process innovations to better serve their elderly rural patients so that the "one child" generation is not overly burdened with their parents' health care.
TANG Ming Xi of Hong Kong Polytechnic University showed the work of his doctoral students in his lab on the use of computer aided drawing and high fidelity prototyping of Yunnan folk instruments and weaving looms to produce small prototypes that could be locally manufactured for tourists. This is a project that should be connected with the MakerBot people.
He has a project in Suzhou on providing new products and markets for the over 1000 year old Kesi Silk industry. This site provided silk embroidery to Chinese royalty since the Yang Dynasty, but now have about 30 weavers who practice the skills in the last remaining factory. This project is urgent in that he believes that socio-demongraphic changes and youth lack of interest is this difficult skill will make the practice nearly extinct in the town in five years. He is convincing the local government to support the local factory with some success, but the challenge is finding a sustainable market for such a high end product.
On my end, next week is the final demo presentation of our Aboriginal Smart Art project. Here is the link to a video overview of the project that the students and I put together. (It is my voice in the voice over).
Second, I had given a series of lectures and workshops on Cultures-Based Innovation that were extremely well received. It seems that CBI has tapped into a global zeitgeist by providing what people said was 'the language and a model' to articulate the work that they have been doing or trying to do.
The Te Aranga Strategy for Maori cultural landscape based urban development. Carin Wilson leads Nga Aho, the Society of Maori Design Professionals. The Te Aranga Strategy has just gotten the final approvals to build an urban development based on Maori principles. This is super exciting in that it required the cooperation of the design association, the Te Wananga o Aotearoa (a Maori indigenous university) and the Maori communities and getting prepared to move into a pilot village implementation stage.
Gerai Orang Asal, which was founded by Reita Rahim in 2004. It is a volunteer-based mobile indigenous craft stall. It focuses on helping indigenous weavers develop new products and markets that revive and repurpose their craft. The organisation has been using Facebook as its platform of communication among the mostly indigenous women who participate in the organisation. There is a great opportunity for exchange with craft researchers and workers in India, especially the research that MP Ranjan and his wife have done to record, revive and repurpose Indian craft.
Again, it was great to meet so many cool people. I feel as if the world is a positive place.