Project Design Lab: Helping Tohoku’s reconstruction by crowdsourcing design



Two years have passed since the Tohoku earthquake hit Japan, and the region is still in the middle of reconstruction efforts. And just as in many other parts of Japan, there are many traditional crafts that have been nurtured there over hundreds of years. In order to support this kind of remarkable craftsmanship, as well as the region’s economy and reputation, a new website called Product Design Lab has just launched.

A number of players are behind the initiative: Yahoo’s Tohoku reconstruction online mall, major crowdsourcing website Crowdworks, Daikokuya Business Consulting, and Yahoo Crowdsourcing. The four business aim to supplement the lack of design resources in the Tohoku region, marrying old craftsmanship with new consumer-generated ideas.

Here is how a typical project will proceed. The details of the product will be decided based on a survey conducted on Yahoo Crowdsourcing, and product design will then be developed on CrowdWorks. After a vote on Yahoo Crowdsourcing, the item will be manufactured, and the final product can be bought at Yahoo’s Tohoku reconstruction online mall.

At the time of launch, two companies from Tohoku will participate in the new initiative: a leather bag manufacturing company called Astro Tech in Miyagi prefecture, and the Kesenuma Dream Project which manufactures hand moisturizing cream that uses camellia oil from the region. Using Product Design Lab, Astro Tech will come up with an entirely new bag, and the Kesenuma Dream Project will design a new package for its popular hand moisturizer.

To see what kind of crowdsourcing projects might become available in the future on the site, take a look at Yahoo’s Tohoku Reconstruction online mall or check out the Fukko Department.