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November 12, 2020

Introducing: COUNTER POINT, the Project-in-Residence Program by FabCafe Kyoto

Campfires in the city, past life reminiscence, telepresence robots, brain wave music, and TIROL chocolates...

FabCafe Global Editorial Team


The first members of the Project In-Residence COUNTER POINT, by FabCafe Kyoto, have been selected to start their 3-month residence at FabCafe Kyoto from October 23rd. The topics are wide and sometimes eccentric, but all of the groups’ activities are similarly driven primarily by impulse and deep passion. From now, teams will experiment and deploy while culminating a chemical reaction as they interact with various creators and the Loftwork members gathered at FabCafe.

[Application deadline: Friday, January 15!]

COUNTER POINT by FabCafe Kyoto, 3rd generation members wanted!

👇To Apply to COUNTER POINT Project in Residence Program👇
COUNTER POINT Application page (English and Japanese)

After a month-long recruitment period, eight teams have been selected as members of the first generation of Counter Point. Campfires, brainwave-made music, African cuisine, chocolate otaku, past life reminiscence, local crafts, robots, and botany are all mixed in these creative projects. Without further ado, introducing the first Counter Point projects in residence!:

Campfires are becoming more and more difficult to make, not only in the city, but  in the suburbs as well. Even today, when the practical function of fire has been replaced by other technologies, people continue to be fascinated by fire. Why is that? And why shouldn’t we enjoy campfires regularly in the first place?

This project shares and explores the process and intrinsic appeal of campfires, proposing a new way of enjoying with campfires by crossing them with people, communities, food and craftsmanship. Campfire Lab members are working to create a system and community to enjoy a bonfire-lifestyle in the city and is currently looking to collaborate with universities and temples. This is a project that redefines and hacks the relationship between people, nature and the city.

Team members
Yuji Hashimoto (Creative Director), Yumi Hashimoto (Graphic Designer), Daichi Nakagawa (President of a painting company), Makoto Kamei (Programmer/lecturer at a vocational school), Hyota Echizenya (Director of Kyoto Univ. Weirdos), Takamasa Hatsuda (Designer), Naoyuki Nakagawa (Curator of Marugoto Art Museum)

Campfire Lab

Re:Craft was born out of the Design Week Kyoto Craftthon 2020, held in August. Re:Craft is an online platform where users and craftspeople can meet and co-create seamlessly with one another. Through Re:Craft, users and craftspeople can dive into the issues facing Japanese crafts, redefining the relationship between people and objects. Re:Craft is an initiative to break down the barriers between producer and consumer through the process of creating something unique that users can keep and use for a long time.

The Chaosdipity team aims to redefine craft, which has different definitions and distances from each other, bringing it back into our life through the incorporation of technology. The team members come from diverse professional backgrounds, including planning, craft, and art, and will make use of their respective fields of expertise through the co-creative process. The team will run for three months with the goal of creating a real-life example of kôgei (Japanese artisan craft) with the understanding of kôgei as the centerpiece of the project.

▼Team Members
Atsushi Iwata (project manager), Hiraku Sudo (metal craft artist), Eriko Miyaki (communication planner), Umi Chae (creative producer), Shiho Fukuhara (artist)

Experimental Musician Tadashi Ando sent us a simple message in his application to Counter Point: “I want to make an instrument that uses brain waves to produce sound and play it live…I’m just going to keep trying until I get it right.”

While working as a representative of a software development company, he also makes unique musical instruments. So far, he has created musical instruments which rely on facial expressions sensors or by holding a one’s hand in space. Through the Brain wave-powered Music project, Tadashi Ando is utilizing machine learning using a special headset that senses brain waves to perform music using brain waves. We hope to see him hack a part of FabCafe Kyoto’s space so that people can use the brainwave sensing headset freely to connect to their own brain through music

▼ Team member
Tadashi Ando (President, Experimental Co., Ltd.)

Tadashi Ando performing music with his face.

Yuusai Oku has traveled to over 100 countries around the world, experiencing the food culture of each country. He currently works as a chef at a guesthouse in Okayama where he connects Japan with the world through cuisine. He has a particular passion for African countries, and his goal in his project is to cook African fusion cuisine from all 54 countries on the African continent. How will he mix the ingredients, culture and people of Kyoto? He loves interacting with people, so we are looking forward to seeing how he will collaborate with the other project teams and the people gathered at FabCafe.

▼ Team members
Yusai Oku, Chiho Maeda (Public Interest Incorporated Foundation: Organizes seminars for public and private leaders from developing countries and events related to Africa), Tomoko Taga (Jam tun: representative of the African fabric brand in Okayama prefecture)

  • Yuusai Oku travels around the country working as a freelancer. He sent me a video of his enthusiasm from the Ogasawara Islands, where he was on a business trip.

Normally, telepresence robots that run by themselves are expensive, costing upwards 600,000 yen, so it is quite difficult for the general public to incorporate them into their daily lives. However, if the price goes from 600,000 yen to 5,000 yen, more people will be able to access the technology and hack it for themselves. A member of this team is developing a telepresence robot (a moving telephone) named Telepy to fill this gap.

What would happen if 100 telepies were placed in different parts of town? What would happen if you put them in a live concert or festival? What are some of the places you wouldn’t normally go that would be interesting to access through telepresence? How can learning be changed if students are placed in every seat in a lecture hall through telepresence? Can spontaneous communication, which has made difficult by remote work, be properly facilitated through Telepy? At a time when the possibilities and meaning of communication are being reexamined, this is a topic worth experimenting with beyond the metrics of business goals and KPIs.

Team Members
Tatsuji Haga (Engineer), Chris Francis Christophers (CEO iPresence Ltd), Takahiro Ota (CTO – Chief Technical Officer), Kentaro Shimizu (Electronics Engineer), Haruto Fujinaga (Telepresence Robot Specialist), Shinichi Nakagawa (Product Designer), Rio Ikegawa (Telepresence Robot Specialist)

  • You can set a phone in an egg-shaped robot and move the way you phone is facing remotely.

TIROList Chiakichi is what you might call an “otaku” (or huge fan) of Japanese-made TIROL chocolates. TIROL chocolates (pronounced ‘chiroru’ in Japanese) are small, affordable squares of chocolate which come in a wide variety of flavors. They are sold at convenience stores, supermarkets and other small shops in Japan.

Chiakichi connects with people through TIROL chocolate and believes her job in life is intricately connected to TIROL chocolates. She believes that by increasing the number of people who love chocolates, she can increase the number of people who, like herself, enjoy life through chocolates. While working as a student at an art university, her love for TIROL chocolates is never ending. She now works as the YouTuber, TIROList Chiakichi.

At COUNTER POINT, she has done research to explore the core of TIROL chocolate. She aims to use a variety of materials to represent and exhibit TIROL chocolate by crossing “TIROL chocolate” and something completely different side by side. By doing this, she hopes to embody and exhibit the in-between existence between what TIROL chocolate becomes and what can be called “TIROL chocolate”. It’s unsure how the final exhibition will look like, but we think it will involve a landscape full of her smiling face.

▼Team member
TIROList Chiakichi

Yuya Maeda of edalab. has collaborated many times with FabCafe Kyoto and is now working on a project at COUNTER POINT called “Flower Flows”. Flower Flows purports to record the relationship between plants and time through photographs and objects. Yuya Maeda observes and photographs the transformation of the colors and shapes of plants along the axis of time, from full bloom to wilting and decay. The aim of Flower Flow is to compile and exhibit their work in a book of photographs, not to gain sympathy for the beauty of withered plants, but to convey the true state of the plants as they are.

Related story (Japanese):FabCafe Kyoto 偏愛探訪 vol.1 「edalab.」 植物をとおして模索するコミュニケーション

▼Team members
edalab. (Florist), Kazuki Sumi (Book design, representative of KEYDESIGN), Natsuko Hirobe (Letterer)

In the COUNTER POINT interview, Yuya Maeda said, “You can’t call it your work if you submit the plants in their natural state as they are. This is why I felt that the effort to present the cuteness I had found was like trying to submit myself, even if it means removing most of the leaves.” In this project, he challenges himself to show the withered flowers just as they are.

Past lives are apparently pretty easy to remember. The purpose of this project is to experiment and prove it. Mikan Arisa will guide various people to recall their past lives “like remembering last night’s dinner” and collect samples of their memory experiences and compile them into a manga. In the past, Arisa Mikan has developed an open-ended activity from a unique perspective, such as making a comic book about her marriage activity through her own muscle training. What kind of serendipity will arise this time around? It’s yet to be determined!

▼Team member
Arisa Mikan (Web-based cartoonist, painter)

  • Mikan also shares her own "marital training" on Instagram, including the entire process and results in a comic strip.

So what do you think? Campfire in the city? Accessible telepresence to the masses? Can TIROL chocolates raise our World Happiness Index? If you have a project you are interested in, we warmly invite you to FabCafe Kyoto. You might even be able to participate in their experiments live and in person!

COUNTER POINT plans to continue accepting applications for the second and third generations of the program. If you have your own strong passions and motivations, we would love to see you apply for the next one!

👇To Apply to COUNTER POINT Project in Residence Program👇
COUNTER POINT Application page (English and Japanese)

Related link (Japanese): COUNTER POINT by FabCafe Kyoto, 2nd phase members wanted! [Application deadline: Friday, November 27]


  • 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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