Column

August 23, 2020

Former WIRED Japan’s Editor-In-Chief Kei Wakabayashi Looks To Connect Japan With The World

FabCafe Global Editorial Team

The 2020 YouFab Global Creative Awards, which opened its 9th annual call for entries this month, has announced a star-studded roster of judges, headlined by esteemed Japanese editor Kei Wakabayashi.

Wakabayashi, former editor-in-chief of WIRED Japan, resumes his role as chief judge for the third year in a row. He will be joined by Steve Tidball, the CEO and co-founder of UK clothing brand Vollebak and Kampire Bahana, one of East Africa’s most exciting DJs and a core member of Kampala’s Nyege Nyege collective. See the press release of YouFab 2020 here

Born in 1971, Wakabayashi spent his early childhood in London and New York. He graduated from the School of Humanities and Social Sciences in French Studies at Waseda University in Tokyo.

After various gigs and working as an independent editor, he became the editor in chief of WIRED Japan in 2012, before leaving the post in 2017. 

In 2018, Wakabayshi launched blkswan publishers Inc., a creative studio that produces the same types of raw, authentic digital content – from books and podcasts to events – that YouFab embodies.

As one of the few editors in Japan who understands the intersection of technology, economy and culture, Wakabayashi has become a major opinion leader among young people in Japan.

While Japanese culture tends to be insular, Wakabayshi has been able to inspire an interest by young people in serious and complex topics such as the government, blockchain and economics through his innovative use of design.

His book, “Next Generation Government”, published earlier this year, reflects on the current events of society and lays out the responsibilities of governments going forward. In it, Wakabayashi creatively utilizes design – from the creative direction, editorial layout and graphic design – to break down complex topics and make them more accessible for readers.

“Next Generation Government”, a book published by Wakabayashi earlier this year.

Continuing the same mission of inspiring Japanese people to look beyond its borders, Wakabayashi launched a radio show under blkswan called “konichiwa mirai” – or “Hello Future” – with New York-based writer and producer Sakuma Yumiko.

With the help of Yumiko, who wrote a book about cannabis, racism, religion, feminism and the local community in New York, the show touches on a diverse range of modern topics that Japanese people are not often exposed to due to the country’s isolated nature, providing a refreshing perspective on world news in a media landscape saturated by limited traditional styles of covering global news stories.

The same way that the COVID-19 pandemic has forced Japan to reexamine and reevaluate its culture and begin testing ways of living such as remote working, a relatively new concept in the country, “konichiwa mirai” looks to connect Japan with the rest of the world to inspire people to think and create differently.

  • Wakabayashi at YouFab 2019 final screening hosted at Loftwork inc. headquarter office in Tokyo

  • Wakabayashi with the Japanese rap band MGF at YouFab 2019 opening party at FabCafe Tokyo

As a music lover, Wakabayashi became concerned with the changes the music industry was undergoing with the shift to streaming.

Recognizing the need for innovation for music businesses and platforms, as well as the musicians, he founded the New School of Music, a project focused on figuring out the future of music. The New School of Music holds events to explore this topic, including a culture music tour to London, a major hub for the music industry, to interview music-related studios and businesses.

With his dedication to exploring new frontiers, he also shares his new music discoveries on his Facebook page with his followers and is the mastermind behind the hit “Civil Rap Song”, a collaboration between Digital Minister of Taiwan- Audrey Tang and Japanese hip hop group Dos Monos, who he connected. Listen to the song below: 

Since his introduction to the YouFab judging panel in 2018 by Hiroya Tanaka, the godfather of digital fabrication in Japan, Wakabayashi has helped ensure that YouFab consistently has its finger on the pulse of time through his professional experience, sharp awareness of current affairs and unique perspective on futurism.

From helping choose an award theme that reflects the zeitgeist each year to finding influential and up-and-coming creators from around the world to serve as judges, Wakabayashi pushes creators in the YouFab community to think critically about and engage with the world.

As the COVID-19 pandemic has forced sudden changes to social systems and personal lifestyles, the theme for this year’s YouFab Awards is “Contactless”.

“Because of COVID-19, we have to reframe the way we connect with each other through the digital world,” Wakabayashi said. “We also need to consider how we have connections with others in the real space with new surroundings.”

“The challenge itself is not something new,” he added. “But now we need to think about it in the space with more limitations and restrictions, which is demanding new ideas including witty ideas rather than abstract concepts.” Watch the video of his full message with English subtitles for YouFab 2020 below: 

The YouFab awards are open to all individuals and corporations around the world, regardless of age and nationality. All works, products and services past the planning stage will be accepted, and works can be physically or practically implemented, currently in operation or have already been published or released. Starting 2019, works done without digital production tools are also welcome.

Theme: Contactless
In line with its mission of capturing the zeitgeist through art and design, the 2020 award theme is “Contactless”. As the COVID-19 pandemic has forced sudden changes to social systems and personal lifestyles through quarantines, lockdowns and social distancing measures, YouFab is calling for designs that shed light on experiences that bring humanity back to everyday life, as well as works that present actual experiences where being contactless is stronger by default.

Entry Requirements:
The YouFab awards are open to all individuals and corporations around the world, regardless of age and nationality. All works, products and services past the planning stage will be accepted, and works can be physically or practically implemented, currently in operation or have already been published or released. Starting 2019, works done without digital production tools are also welcome.

Submission dates: Saturday August 1, 2020 – 12:00pm JST Saturday October 31

Grand Prize: Kohei Nawa-designed trophy and US$2,000 

First Prize: Kohei Nawa-designed trophy and US $1,000

Student Prize: Certificate and US$500

Special NewHere Prize: Certificate and US$1,000

Go to YouFab 2020 Official Website NOW

Author

  • FabCafe Global Editorial Team

    This articles is edited by FabCafe Global.

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

    This articles is edited by FabCafe Global.

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

Get in touch

Subscribe to FabCafe Global monthly newsletter for more stories in innovation and designs.

Our Business Services

Building products and services that push innovation for companies