“Shanzhai is the Spirit”
My fascination by Shenzhen makers culture started, I heard bunnie talking on Open Hardware Development @FOSSASIA ’15 in Singapore. If you are into hardware, open source and open source manufacturing, Shenzhen is the place to be/visit. In October we finally had a chance to visit the city, when decided to go to Shenzhen Maker Faire ’16.
The day we arrived, Shenzhen was paralyzed by a powerful late-season typhoon that triggered the first #8 storm warning in October. Maker Faire was postponed, Huaqiangbei Electronics Market — closed, city was empty.
Despite the usual warnings to stay safe, we were out exploring the city and learn how it came this way.
The small fishing village of Shenzhen was singled out in the 1979 to be one of the first Special Economic Zones (SEZ) under the leadership of Deng Xiaoping, the “father of modern China”.
Shenzhen is a long and narrow city, being 81.4km from east to west with the narrowest section from south to north — 10.8km . Within 25 years Shenzhen officials implemented three urban development master plans. The first master plan of 1986 put in six “cluster cities” that concentrated growth and infrastructure along three highways.
Since the establishment of the Special Economic Zone, Shenzhen has seen unprecedented growth from a village of 30,000 to a city of over 325 times that. [Resource]
Huaqiangbei Electronics Market (HQB)
HQB has been a legend in hardware world for a long time — place for hardware manufacturing factories and independent manufacturing communities.
HQB is reported as being the largest electronics market in China, and possibly one of the largest in the world, where a half million of people go in and out every day. It would be a great idea to find or make a local friend to show you around or at least be armed with some maps and guides:
- The Essential Guide to Electronics in Shenzhen by Bunnie Huang
- Seeed Studios made a map for makers
- Watch this documentary by WIRED for inspiration: “Shenzhen: The Silicon Valley of Hardware”
We have spend 10 hours wondering about, mostly in SEG Electronic Market, Huaqiang Electronic World, Yuanwang Digital Mall.
“Shanzhai is the Spirit”
Deeply impressed with the culture of crowdsourced innovation, we had to bring some artefacts of shanzhai creativity with us. Smartwatches, drones and mini phones — all together for the price of a dinner for two in Seoul.
Maker Faire Shenzhen, although is smaller then ones in California, US or Rome, EU is nevertheless the biggest maker faire in Asia, with more than 100,000 participant and many overseas exhibitors. Not surprisingly, many projects came from Korea as well.
Overall Shenzhen feels like a perfect place for MAKERS: it is a uniq space where people live and die by open source hardware and the spirit of entrepreneurship has changed the whole economy of the region.
See you next year at the Maker Faire EU in Rome, Bruce Sterling ¯\_(ツ)_/¯