CRAFTTHON = “Craft” + “hackathon.” This is an innovative project in which a wide variety of creators from all over Japan come together and exchange ideas in order to develop new and innovative services and products through Kyoto’s craftsmanship.
The theme of the CRAFTTHON 2020 was “Bugs!” The word, “bug,” which is often used for computers and video games, refers to a “glitch, error, or defect in a program.” Considering that the new values, culture and technology that have developed in our society have been born through various “bugs,” the current COVID-19 situation can be said to be one of them from which we can generate new values and ideas.
What kind of groundbreaking ideas will be born when the “craft of Kyoto” is combined with the “bugs” that can bring about this evolution? Could tradition give birth to the future values required in the new era? CRAFTTHON 2020 revealed the answer to this question.
Mid-July to mid-August, 2020
Call for participants
August 20, 2020: Team Building [Online]
28 participants from all over Japan were divided into 7 teams.
August 29 & 30, 2020: Ideation Workshop [Online and at Kyoto Research Park]
*The three teams were selected after the screening
1) Team AIAI
“MEDERU”: an online salon where people involved in crafts can interact freely
2) Team Spinkle
“Weekend Artisan”: Proposing a new way to connect with crafts by combining crafts into everyday life.
3) Team CHAOSDIPITY
“Re:craft”: a service that allows users of goods and craftspeople to upcycle through creating together.
October 26, 2020 [Online].
Mid-term presentation by three selected teams.
January 15, 2021 [Online]
The three teams started test marketing.
February 28, 2021: Final presentation [online].
The three teams presented their business models to domestic and international investors and others to launch the business.
From March, 2021
Preparing for launching the business
In addition to the knowledge and skills to create high quality works, craftspeople are also required to have the ability of PR and sales promotion. However, it is very difficult for them to do PR and sales while creating their works, and what is worse, it may lead to the dismissal of their business, in the end.
MEDERU is the idea of an holding an online salon where people who are involved or interested in the craft industry can interact with each other freely. MEDERU is a virtual shopping mall where artists, those involved in the craft industry, and the general public who are interested in various crafts can participate. Craftspeople will be able to sell their works and learn the best ways of promoting them through interaction. MEDERU is a business model that aims to become a platform for a variety of craft-related services by leveraging the community of people involved in craft.
2) “Weekend Artisan”
“Weekend Artisan” suggests a new way to connect with crafts combining “craft” with “everyday life.” Considering “The Future of Crafts,” the project aims to create a system that allows people to learn about the issues of crafts and get involved in addressing them. For those who want to use their time to contribute to the future of crafts, the program offers a curriculum that allows them to be involved in addressing issues in the field of crafts while enriching their own lives, rather than just experiencing crafts.
For those who want to make use of their skills in the future, we will provide a curriculum that allows them to be involved in solving issues facing the craft field while enriching their own lives. The project aims to increase the number of users who hope for “more than an experience, less than an apprenticeship” and to solve social issues in the craft field as a whole by creating connections between the bearers and the creators, and by repeating the process of continuous manufacturing.
“Re:Craft” is a service that aims to recycle objects that can no longer be used in their original form into a new form (i.e. Re:Craft) through the power of craftsmanship, so that they can continue to be used for a longer period. Users who want to upcycle their items register with a community-based online service. There are three types of players involved in the service: Cuezers (users who bring in upcycled goods), Nacorders (intermediaries with knowledge of various crafts), and craftspeople.
ConCra, which runs the project, will communicate about the creative process through multiple media such as social media, to convey the fun and value of craft and upcycling (= Re:Craft) to as many people as possible. In the event that multiple re-crafted items are produced from a single project, the surplus re-crafted items will be sold on the e-commerce site. The goal is to create a community-based service that encourages more users to become interested in re-crafting by making it easy for non-requesters to purchase re-crafted items.
– Taka Nakamura (CEO taliki, Inc.)
– Toshihiro Aya (President & Creative Director, o-lab inc.)
– Natsumi Tabusa (General Manager of Japan West Devision, aeru company)
– Yusuke Takenami (Chief Researcher, Design Team, Kyoto Municipal Institute of Industrial Technology and Culture)
■ Comments from the mentors and advisors
Taka Nakamura (CEO taliki, Inc.)
I found it very interesting that a mix of different stakeholders were working on their business models; this is one of the key characteristics of the CRAFTTHON 2020. There were opinions from craftspeople as parties became involved, opinions from craft fans who wished there was such a new service, and opinions from those who wanted to change the present structure as a way to preserve the traditional craft industry. In order to turn a business concept into a service, all voices are needed, and each business plan developed from multiple perspectives was interesting and made me want to try it, even though I am not familiar with traditional crafts. I hope that this initiative will continue and that services will be created that will change the world step by step.
Toshihiro Aya (President & Creative Director, o-lab inc.)
Since I’m not a craft specialist, I was able to be involved in the CRAFTTHON 2020 from the perspective of not drawing “boundaries” between craft and other areas. Furthermore, the fact that such a large amount of work was accomplished in such a short period of time (about six months), almost exclusively online, by team members who each had their own primary jobs was astounding, and I felt it gave me a great insight into the way Post-Covid19 should operate and how projects can be carried out. The three business plans are all things that I wish would exist in society, and I look forward to seeing them grow into businesses that will become “the norm” for society in the near future.
Natsumi Tabusa (General Manager of Japan West Devision, aeru company)
Having been involved in traditional craft industries, I have strongly felt that it is necessary to encourage people from the completely different fields involved in order to open up the future of this industry. The CRAFTTHON 2020 was just such an initiative, and the way members from a wide range of backgrounds, including IT, design, marketing, and students, worked together with artisans to build the project with their pure aspirations made me feel strongly that the future is bright. As a person who loves what artisans create, I hope that CRAFTTHON, will continue to flourish.
Yusuke Takenami (Chief Researcher, Design Team, Kyoto Municipal Institute of Industrial Technology and Culture)
I was overwhelmed by the skill and energy of the people from various professions who gathered at CRAFTTHON 2020, not only to develop their ideas, but also to take a serious look at profitability and try to realize their business models. I feel that traditional and local industries are already in a phase of generational change where they are trying to revive and survive in a new way. I hope that the CRAFTTHON will lead to a richer life in a few decades, and that the ideas and services born from the CRAFTTHON will become “part of tradition.” It is very encouraging to see so many people seriously thinking about the future of traditional crafts in Kyoto.
■ Comments from the supporting companies and investors
Supporting companies (Craftspeople)
Yozan Miura (Tsuchimikado Butsuzo Sculpture Works)
I supported the “Weekend Craftsman” workshop as an instructor of making Buddhist sculptures. It was my first online-only workshop. In the end, I found that the workshop went very well, even online, thanks to the help of the “Weekend Craftsman” staff, who helped me with camera work and improving the textbook. Providing lectures online could increase the creators’ opportunities. For those who wish to learn about producing traditional crafts, they can learn professional skills at home. I am hoping that “Weekend Craftsman” will be an epoch-making service that will provide an opportunity for both creators and learners.
Shun Hatta (Showen Kumihimo)
Through my cooperation with the “ConCra” business model, I realized that the techniques used in crafts not only make the same thing over and over again, but can also be applied to a variety of different purposes and materials. In addition, I realized once again that crafts have the power to give shape to an individual’s thoughts, which is possible only through handiwork. Just as the guitar strap was born when “shirt,” “music,” and “kumihimo” were combined, I felt that when several keywords are combined, the project has the potential to serve as a true upcycle and to find new uses for craft techniques.
Hironobu Matsuura (CEO, Godai Industry)
Before I joined the final presentation, I thought the CRAFTTHON was a project which supports craftspeople, but I was mistaken. I realized that it was a great opportunity to recognize that craftspeople are actually indispensable in enriching our daily lives. It was also a wonderful opportunity for me to feel closer to the craftspeople. “Weekend Craftsman” allows us to deepen our hobby with craftspeople online. “ConCra” lets us make things on our own and to give form to our existence. With “MEDERU”, you can interact with many craftspeople online and shop as well. All three of these business models made me feel that we can easily make our life beautiful with crafts. I am grateful to have had the opportunity to attend the presentations and have had a very meaningful time.
In the unusual circumstances resulting from COVID-19, the CRAFTTHON 2020 was conducted online and remotely, which was a challenge for everyone involved. We wondered if the plan would work and if a new business model that would lead to the future could be created. However, after about six months of implementation, we believe that the project was a great success.
“Creating a New Business Model from Traditional Crafts” already sounds very challenging, but in addition to that, there were additional constraints this year: most of the participants, organizers, advisors and mentors could not meet, and it was difficult to make preparations that required traveling. However, these restrictions gave birth to many new ideas and innovations that allowed both the participating creators and the management to overcome such barriers.
In August 2020, 28 people from all over Japan gathered in response to the call for CRAFTTHON 2020. In the end, three promising business models were created. CRAFTTHON 2020 was able to show that it is possible to create business models of this magnitude from teams and ideas that were created only online and remotely, and that there are great possibilities for the future.
Looking at the three business models that made it to the final presentations, it became clear that we are moving into an era in which more importance is being placed on invisible “stories” and “values.” In addition, when we one day overcome the pandemic, the importance of such “value” that people seek from goods and services is expected to increase further on a global scale.
By combining the sensibility of the real world with the technology and convenience of digital and online tools, the future of traditional crafts will be brightly lit, and expectations for the future of traditional crafts and local industries will be raised. CRAFTTHON 2020 was able to create business models that will raise expectations for the future of traditional crafts and local industries. There are also high hopes for the creation of new ideas and business models by continuing this trend into the future.
Kyoto NEW MONOZUKURI Creation Committee (*1)
KYOTO KOUGEI WEEK (*2)
*1: The Kyoto NEW MONOZUKURI Creation Committee consists of Kyoto City, Kyoto Research park, Design Week Kyoto Executive Committee.
*2: KYOTO KOUGEI WEK consists of organizations related to traditional craft and manufacturing in Kyoto Prefecture. The organizer’s office belongs to Kyoto Prefecture.
Design Week Kyoto Executive Committee
(Workshop management with Loftwork Inc.)
(Venue corporation with Kyoto Research Park, FabCafe Kyoto)