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March 16, 2020

FabCafe launches global competition ‘Mask Design Challenge 2020’ to tackle coronavirus mask shortage crisis

FabCafe Global Editorial Team

Mask on, creators: the ‘Mask Design Challenge 2020’ is calling for entries for innovative face mask designs. The brand new global competition that seeks to tackle the problems of today invites creators to submit their masks of the future.

As the current COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic continues to unfold, the global scramble for surgical face masks has led to a host of issues, including skyrocketing prices and mass shortages across major cities. Following a string of recent world crises, from protests to bushfires, the common face mask has never been so vital. 

Building on FabCafe Bangkok’s AirHack event from 2019, which sought to address the city’s air pollution problem, ‘Mask Design Challenge 2020’ will continue the dialogue of tackling new challenges through innovation, in an uncertain, changing world.

This competition has been organized with the purpose of generating design awareness, and does not purport to advise or assist individuals affected by the COVID-19 coronavirus.

FabCafe and Loftwork are not medical professionals, and therefore cannot make any claims of efficacy in regards to the mask designs being uploaded to the AWRD website.

Meet a judging panel of industry trailblazers from across Asia 

FabCafe Global is excited to announce the competition’s judges – a brains trust of innovators from Hong Kong, Japan, Taiwan and Thailand.

We have enlisted Hong Kong’s ‘Godfather of Chemistry’ and retired chemistry lecturer from the Chinese University of Hong Kong, Dr. Kenneth Kwong Si-San. The man behind the ‘HK Mask’ Project, which aims to produce reusable masks to tackle the current shortage of surgical masks in Hong Kong, Dr. Kwong will not only bring to the competition his wealth of professional experience but also his comprehensive grasp of the current mask shortage situation. 

He will be joined by Pinkoi co-founder Maibelle Lin, Thailand Creative and Design Center space development director Pichit Virankabutra and Japanese product designer Taku Omura.

  • Dr. Kenneth Kwong Si-San

    Dr. Kenneth Kwong Si-San

  • Pinkoi co-founder/CPO Maibelle Lin

  • TCDC space development director Pichit Virankabutra

  • Japanese product designer Taku Omura

Visuals by Thai artist Gongkan  

We’re proud to be collaborating with popular Thai artist Kantapon Metheekul, a.k.a. Gongkan, on the visual design of this campaign. With his Thai roots, a stint in New York and a growing fanbase in Asia (including Taiwan, where his solo exhibitions were widely celebrated), Metheekul is a colorful addition to the FabCafe global network. 

His signature style, of characters climbing out of dark holes, is replicated here to reflect not only the perplexing situation right now, but also the positive, spirited outlook of ‘Mask Design Challenge 2020’. 

From sketches to prototypes, a challenge that is open to anyone

For ‘Mask Design Challenge 2020’, FabCafe Global is inviting creators from around the world to submit their bold ideas for a new face mask, be it a functional solution or a stylish take. Design ideas can be about protection against extreme PM2.5 or COVID-19 conditions, comfort for longer usage, or even taking on a more cheerful aesthetic during hard times.

Open to product designers, design students and anyone who likes innovative things, the submitting works can be anything from a completed prototype to something as simple as a sketch on paper. 

The winning works will be exhibited at FabCafe locations (Tokyo, Bangkok, Hong Kong), and featured on all FabCafe global media networks. 

Join the discussion through workshops

To further unpack the challenges that are arising from the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic, we are inviting curious minds to participate in hackathons and workshops at various FabCafe locations around the world, with new dates and locations still to be announced.

These events aim to address the context-specific issues each city currently faces, as the first two events have shown. With citizens on high alert and eager to stay indoors in Hong Kong, FabCafe Hong Kong held an ideation session in February to explore lifestyle concerns during the outbreak. Meanwhile, FabCafe Bangkok hosted a hackathon to help mask shortages in the medical sector this month, as the country grapples with price gouging and alleged mask hoarding. See more about MASK for ER event.

Read more: FabCafe Hong Kong & design community fight coronavirus with innovation

“Hack For ER” hackathon event hosted by FabCafe Bangkok to help mask shortages in the medical sector this month

More hackathons and workshops will be hosted at various FabCafe locations around the world, subscribe here to get the latest updates.

Media Contact: Christine Yeh

About FabCafe Global 
Inspired by the ‘Fab’ revolution as prescribed by MIT maverick Neil Gershenfeld, FabCafe is a series of ‘Fab’ innovation labs that specialize in creating products, services and experiences of the future. Here, maker enthusiasts, businesses and everyday people can access digital fabrication tools and experiences for fields ranging from fashion to bio. Founded in Tokyo in 2012, FabCafe’s global network now serves and fosters creative communities in 11 locations around the world, including Bangkok, Barcelona, Hong Kong, and many more.


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  • FabCafe Global Editorial Team

    This articles is edited by FabCafe Global.

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    This articles is edited by FabCafe Global.

    Please feel free to share your thoughts and opinions on this article with us.
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