PROJECTSMART CRAFT STUDIO in Hida, Japan 2017 - Animating Craft


02.15.2017 - 03.19.2017

28Days left


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Program Overview

Smart Craft Studio is a 3-week intensive design prototyping program happening annually at Fabcafe Hida. The goal of this program is to integrate traditional Japanese woodworking techniques with smart and human-centered technology. The topic for the Smart Craft Studio 2017 is “Animating Craft”.

This year, the studio will explore radical ways to create meaningful interactions between human and human-made objects through woodworking, sensory processing, and cognitive artificial intelligence (A.I.) in the context of art and design. Participating students will have a thorough introduction to wood harvesting process, learn hands-on lessons on Hida’s traditional kumiki (wood joinery) technique from local master craftsmen, learn to prototype with open source and modular Internet of Things (IoT) hardware, and experiment with a new type of A.I. with the ability to generate new user insights from live sensory data.

The Smart Craft Studio team is working with world-class designers and design technologists to create technology workshops for artists and designers. The goal is to minimize the amount of technical hurdles so artists and designers can get to the creative part quicker and smoother. We are achieving this with a motivation-driven learning environment, experienced design tech instructors, detailed documentations and instructions, pre-programmed code templates, modular IoT prototyping tools, and on-site technology staffs.

Students will work in teams to build prototypes and each team is expected to present functional prototypes at the end of the 3-week program.
The studio aims to assemble teams from different design disciplines including fashion, product design, interactive media, and architecture. The program will be conducted primarily in English with translation from Japanese.


Woods in Nishino lumber mill in Hida Furukawa which boasts No. 1 volume of broad-leaves trees in variety in Gifu prefecture. Here, you will learn about the feature of wood as well as the process of making into timber from the tree


Kumiki is a joinery technique which has been used for traditional architectures in Japan and been inherited from old time. It is said that craft men in Hida (Hida-no-Takumi) used to go to Kyoto to build temples and shrines back in Japanese history


In the program, students will learn about Kumiki and build concept for prototyping


Kabetsugi is one of the Kumiki’s types. A Japanese creator developed this prototype after learning about the functionality of Kumiki. It is in conjunction with 3D printed material and functions in everyday life.


A wooden table using Hida’s broad-leave trees and legs using the joinery technique


We will see the technique of the craft men in Hida and learn the detail of their work.


A laboratory researching compressed cedar wood used for furniture.


Workshop of the Japanese traditional flower arrangement (to get a sense of the Japanese esthetic which can be seen as the philosophy of “Wabi-Sabi”)

chieping-iloveimg-convertedThis year, we will use IoT and A.I. to create meaningful interactions between human and human-made objects in the context of art and design.


Prototyping during the Smart Craft Studio held in 2016


Some prototypes made during the Smart Craft Studio held in 2016

About Hida

Situated in the northern part of Gifu Prefecture in Japan, Hida is known for the traditional wood joinery (kumiki) technique and its furniture & forestry industry. The area is also known for its picturesque village, traditional craft, local cuisine & natural surroundings.


A view of Hida Furukawa town


Hida’s forest. Hida is known with its rich forest which shares 93% of the land, within 70% are occupied by abundant natural broad-leaved trees. There is not many places left where natural broad-leaved forests are available. Broad-leave trees make rich earth and clear water which create healthy environment and food.


Life in Hida


FabCafe Hida

Who is eligible to apply for this program?

The program is open for students who are currently enrolled in the schools listed below to apply:
Parsons School of Design
Shih Chien University
The University of Hong Kong

How To Apply?

Eligible applicants can fill in the application form and select 2 projects from their portfolios to upload in the following link.


Studio: FabCafe Hida (6-17, Ninomachi, Furukawa-cho, Hida city, Gifu prefecture, Japan)
Program period: May 28, 2017 – June 19, 2017
Registration deadline: March 19, 2017

Application Period

Application for the program opens from Feb 15, 2017 to Mar. 19, 2017. The application closes at 24:00 EST on Mar. 19 (13:00[pm] TPE on Mar. 19)
The enrollment result will be announced after the middle of March through email.

Program Date
May 28, 2017 – June 19, 2017

Program Fee
USD 3,450

Program tuition, lodging accommodation during the program in Hida, insurance coverage for operating woodshop equipment and processed wood as prototyping material are included in the program fee.

Please note that traveling cost (such as flight ticket and local transportation) are not included in the program fee.

** For meals during the program, participants have the option to join meal plans with additional cost.

Studio Instructor Profiles

Kyle Li
Assistant Professor of Communication Design & Technology / Parsons School of Design

Kyle-LiKyle Li is an interactive media designer specialized in designing play experiences for non-screen based displays and installations. He has done a wide range of works from concert stage visual to airline cockpit data visualization to award winning game & learning installation at middle-schools. Recently, he helped Parsons School of Design in New York design two new undergrad pathways – Creative Technology and Game Design. Kyle is also working on a new minor study in immersive storytelling and imagined reality that is coming out in Fall 2016. He is currently the program director of BFA Design and Technology at Parsons, his mission is to serve quality and up-to-date design & technology education to artists and students now.

Ruei-Yi Yen
Lecturer in the Department of Fashion Styling and Design Communication / Shih-Chien University

rueiyiRuei-Yi Yen is a graphic designer and a university lecturer, specializes in bookbinding and printing and possesses several design professions like editorial design, typography, book design and infographics. Due to her dual career roles, her time is divided between lecturing at Shih-Chien University and her own professional practice. Recently, she has been commissioned to write a book, a distillation of her main teaching contents: exploring bookbinding through the sense of sight and touch. Her solo exhibition “Collab: Zine Safari” will be held from Aug. 10 to Sep. 11 at Yong‘an Arts Center, and her book “Bookbinding——Experiencing through Flipping” is scheduled for publication in 2017.

Chia-Ying Lee
Assistant Professor in the Department of Communications Design / Shih-Chien University

chia-ying-leeChia-Ying Lee received her Master degree from Facultad de Bellas Artes, Slamanca, España. She is now an Assistant Professor in the Department of Communications Design, Shih-Chien University. She is also getting her PhD degree in UPV Universitat Politècnica de València. Her research interests include interaction design, design education and multimedia, digital game design, interactive script. She dedicates herself to making the students understand the beauty of interaction design.

Harvey Chung
Assistant professor of the University of Hong Kong faculty of architecture

harvey-profile-pictureHarvey Chung is an architect, designer and entrepreneur. He is the co-founder of Loftwork Hong Kong and assistant professor of the University of Hong Kong faculty of architecture. He holds a master’s degree in architecture from Yale University and has over 12 years of digital design and fabrication experience. Prior to starting Loftwork HK, he has been working for over 7 years as a lead designer and project manager for world renowned architects in Hong Kong.

Guest Instructor:
Shigeru Kobayashi

Professor / Institute of Advanced Media Arts and Sciences [IAMAS]

kobayashiShigeru Kobayashi is a PhD in Media Design and a professor of Institute of Advanced Media Arts and Sciences [IAMAS]. He worked for a digital musical instrument company as a sound designer and a software engineer. He designed Open Source Hardware such as Gainer and Arduino Fio (with SparkFun Electronics) and wrote books on physical computing and prototyping (published in Japanese, Korean and Formosan). He also won the red dot award: design concept in 2011 as an interaction designer. Recently, he has been facilitating cross-industry innovation projects to create innovation by multiplying people from local and information technology industries.

Report from Smart Craft Studio 2016

Please find the reports from Smart Craft Studio held in 2016. You can find what learnings and inspiration the students acquired and what kind of prototypes were created out of the 23 days-intensive design camp.



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