Day 31 - 13 June
Up before 6am for the bus ride to the airport… Final goodbyes to Bruce and Nicole ….then through security, immigration and to the departure gate….on the plane to Japan and then on to Los Angeles. A lotta’ miles, a lotta’ smiles. What an experience….
Thank You Deborah, Rich, Gary, Nicole, Kerri, Laura, Denise, Matt, Allison and everyone at Otis who planned and supported this Integrated Learning experience.
Thank you Peter for your sharing everything at HaPe with us….especially for your life stories, leadership, support and vision for a better world.
Thank you Daniel, Julia, Hans, Purity and countless others for your planning, execution and the most generous allocation of resources.
Thank you Markus and Bruce for the endless flow of ideas, challenges, solutions, creativity and inspiration.
Thank you to Shen and the workshop technicians who cheerfully shared their talent, experience and craftsmanship.
Thank you to Hape staff and visiting clients and friends who shared their expertise and input at key milestones in this process.
Thank you to the families that invited us into their homes and graciously provided warmth and hospitality.
Thank you to Professor Chen and CAA for sharing your campus, expo, Sunday afternoon and most of all 3 wonderful students with us.
Thank you to our cook, bus driver and our cameraman/companion the “Rock”.
Thank you for letting Otis join the ranks of distinguished workshop alumni that hail from Bauhaus, Shekar, Kaos Pilot, and CAA..
Thank you to the students from Otis and CAA who taught their teachers.
Day 30 - 12 June
Check out of the Home Inn in Beilun. On the bus for a 3 hour drive to Shanghai. We spent the day shopping and sight-seeing in Xin Tian Di and The Bund. Then we all went out to dinner for Thai Food at up many tiny stairs to the top of an amazing restaurant . Our Shanghai hotel was close to all the action.
Day 29 - 11 June
Sleep in! The bus picked us up at 1:30pm and we made our last trip up the mountain to DaQi. We “stuck camp” (Gary did all the heavy lifting!), took down the banners, cleaned up the classrooms, scraped glue and paint off of the tables, put the chairs back in the cafeteria, then conducted one last concept review with our mentors Bruce and Markus. Farewell DaQi!, on the bus, back down the mountain to Beilun for a departure banquet.
Day 28 - 10 June
Out the door at 10am and up the mountain. Clean up, set up and getting ready for the Big Event….our Final Presentation. The girls are all dolled up, the big workshop room has been decorated with banners and flowers. Did I mention that it’s really hot and humid today? Opening speeches and welcome to visiting guests and jurors…and….our final presentation was underway. Students showed their concepts and finished prototypes. All of the work was well-received and after the presentation, Peter, HaPE staff, and visiting jurors met with Otis staff to comment on the ideas. We believe that there is a place for several of the items to move into the official development stage and eventually find a place in one of the HaPe lines! After the first review the group headed back down to Beilun for a night off! Can’t believe it’s over….WOW!….the month flew by! Everybody was on their own for dinner…whatever and they stuck to the Buddy System.
Day 27 - 9 June, 2012
More Hotter and More Humider! Wish I didn’t complain about yesterday! But we put on the A/C in the classrooms and ventured into the shop only if necessary. Another great home cooked lunch. OK…. this is it. Scrambling for fonts, mocking up packaging, swapping artwork on flash drives…finishing touches and hoping the paint dries! No dinner out tonight. We’re working then taking the night off. We get to sleep in a couple extra hours tomorrow.
Day 26 - 8 June, 2012
“Hotter and Humider (means more humid!)”. We are wilting. Only two days before the final presentation. Implementing changes where possible…simplifying, re-fining and generally jamming. You know the drill! Cramming for the Final. Banners and signage are starting to arrive and the place is staring to look less like a workshop and more like a gallery in a workshop! Dinner tonight was on your own style with a 3 groups of us having dinner with a HaPe family again. Just great to sit with a family, have a glass of wine, watch some TV, eat home cooked food, play with kids and just chat. China is so different…but people and their sense of family, decency, community and hospitality are universally common values we all share. Just delightful.
Day 25 - 7 June, 2012
Only three work days left before the final presentation…..working on refinements . Some of the students had another feedback session at a local kindergarten. The rest of us went up to Da Xi 1st thing in the morning. Hot and humid! In the afternoon we were visited by Miho (HaPE Japan), Marie (Japan) and Mr. Chihiro Tada….Tada-san is the founder of the Tokyo Toy Museum and a Professor at two Universities in Tokyo. He gave us a presentation via PowerPoint and demonstrated some very simple, elegant, traditional hand-crafted toys. He also shared his philosophy that play is beneficial to development and should engage children to learn, discover and figure out things for themselves using their hands (not just thumbs)…and…. that play is something to be shared with elders. The museum also functions as a school and a place where children and elders can interact together. Tada-san echoes Peter’s sentiment that “less is more” and is not a huge fan of video games. After the presentation he visited each group and provided insightful one-on-one commentary. HaPe has made a point of providing us with a real “Global” experience. Then we all went out for Vegetarian food! At dinner Tada-san explained that he would host a Toy Summit at the Museum in Tokyo. Otis should plan on sending a few representatives! OK…I’ll raise my hand now….
Day 24 - 6 June, 2012
Workshop as usual. Students are working toward final presentations. Nicole is jamming on PDF formats, PPT formats, display design, banners, planning for the jury and guests. Finalizing a few functional details. Korean BBQ tonight!
Day 23 - 5 June, 2012
8 am on the bus…got a call…NO POWER in DaXi!…we went anyway, collected our samples, turned around and came back down the mountain to HaPe HQ and took over a conference room. No rest for the weary! Sewing, painting, PPT presentations, collecting some materials we don’t have in DaXi (if you can imagine…they have dang near everything there!). Dinner and shopping tonight in Ningbo. HaPe arranged the bus transportation for us and we told them that we’d buy our own dinner for a change…This may be the first dinner some of us have purchased since arriving! Really! But let me re-consider and be thankful…for some of our hosts…. it may be the first dinner they’ve had with their family since we arrived! Their graciousness knows no limits…..
Day 22 - 4 June, 2012
8 am, on the bus and back to the workshop in Da Xi…drained after the long day at CAA and long bus ride from Hangzhou yesterday. More of the same, sanding, grinding, drilling, painting, assembling, prepping presentation materials and addressing the issues and input we digested from the previous Saturday morning kindergarten session. Plans made for another group of kids to visit and another round of “family night” visits later in the week. We clocked out a half hour early and just a handful went out for a local Ningbo-nese style dinner….mmmmmm…. hit the sack at about 9pm……zzzzzzzz.
Day 21 - 3 June, 2012
Up at 8am, buffet breakfast, on the bus…. surprise stop at Starbucks! Then on to China Academy of the Arts. First we visited the “old” campus near West Lake. This was the Fine Arts campus. There was so much to see and the Graduation Expo was still on display. It was a very nice campus with lots of buildings, workshops, studios and galleries. We did an un-guided walking tour and found our way around just fine. The work that we found here was impressive and inspiring. Then back on the bus to the “new” campus about 45 minutes away. WOW! Huge campus. Scenic, …a river, new buildings, old buildings, a mountain in the middle, ivy covered walls. This campus has product design, industrial design, automotive design, animation, graphic arts, jewelry, pottery, glass, public arts and fashion. We were greeted by the ID Department Director, ushered into a catered buffet in the cafeteria/restaurant then given a personally guided tour everywhere…exhilarating and exhausting. Sensory overload! Dynamite student work at the bachelor, master and doctorate level. Stunning and inspiring. Too much to include in this blog. Check out the product pictures. Back on the bus, seafood dinner in Beilun, turned in early and ready for our final week.
Day 20 - 2 June, 2012
Raining again. 8am, on the bus, through the city, up the hill, past the lake, along the stream to present to a passel of kindergarteners. We got some valuable consumer insight and useful feedback to use as we make the push to our final presentations. A professional film crew was on sight to document the interaction between the kids and the concepts…and…to interview students and staff. No detail has been overlooked…. the workshop has been so well planned and executed. So far the Otis students and our friends from China Academy have been up to the challenge. Next stop?…. on the bus for an overnight in Hangzhou (Han Jo)! We got there just in time to watch the sun set over West Lake…Spectacular! Looking north the skyline of Hangzhou…looking south, a row of low mountains…. looking west, a sunset with boats gliding along the glassy water. There is parkland and walkways all around the lake. The “town” (over 8 million residents!) has neat shops and tree-lined streets…idyllic…. a very pretty city! Dinner was fabulous…blah, blah, blah…. Hangzhou is the home town of Amy, Charlotte and Carrie…and…. the locale for China Academy of the Arts (6000 students), the most prestigious art and design school in all of China! Otis now has 3 friends there! The experience has been so complete to this point…. have I mentioned that before?. One thing is certain, Methods and Materials I and II curriculum is going to change…. for starters, added materials will include wood, bamboo, grain-based molding resin and polypropylene/sawdust composite, along their associated production methods.
Day 19 - 1 June, 2012
Work like heck to finish up in the morning…then…. after lunch we had our 2nd (mid project) presentation. Teams displayed, demonstrated, and “pitched” their concepts and prototypes to the HaPe team, which consisted of the CEO, President of North America and Department Managers from Marketing, Sales, Trade, Technical, QA/QC and Product Designers for Germany and Italy. They said this was the best workshop they have had. Enough said…no sense in trying to add more. Oh yeah, dinner was all you can eat/cook Korean BBQ….mmmmmm!
Day 18 - 31 May, 2012
Today is Rich’s last day with us. What a great guy to travel with and he’s a super trip leader. Two of the students went to the HaPe office in Beilun (Bay-loon) because the only thing we don’t have up in the Daqi (Da-chee) workshop is a sewing machine…. we have absolutely everything else. One of the projects required the weaving of some “baskets”. Wouldn’t you know it…Markus had a local Master Weaver come to the workshop to help out, the only one in the area that is a master at this craft. Using centuries-old hand fabricated tools he demo’d how split bamboo is sized and prepped for weaving and showed some students how to do the weaving…. Incredible! If HaPe thinks we need resources, they magically show up! Wanna’ bet they get a sewing machine up here some day? Don’t bet against these HaPe guys!! They are bending over backwards to make this an incredible experience in every way imaginable. Dinner was at a vegetarian restaurant…they served beef, pork, sausage and fish…. all made from vegetables. How do they do that? The presentation and tables were beautiful and very modern in design. It was really good and the taste was rather convincing.
Day 17 - 30 May, 2012
Ditto May 29…going 100 miles an hour again…. except we started some assembly of the components we’ve been making so furiously. More rain…a real “gully washer”. More painting, grinding, sanding, drilling, gluing, stringing, pounding, clamping. Surprisingly not any cussing!. Not much more to add…..today was a carbon copy of yesterday. One other exception…. for dinner we had Hunan style…..Very spicy! Very good! Very filling!
Day 16 - 29 May, 2012
Slammin’ day at the workshop…sawdust was flying everywhere. Drilling, Cutting, Sanding, CNC Machining, Routing, etc., all prepping for the big push for the 2nd presentation this Friday after lunch. A lot of hard work and busy activity. It was great to see things starting to take on a more polished look and functionality. We were exhausted…then out to dinner, again, for some local Beilun food…..mmmmm. Nice dishes. . . being close to the ocean we get some phenomenal seafood. Today we got some wind and plenty of rain. Our creek was overflowing, making a bigger waterfall out front that we can hear from the studios.
Day 15 - 28 May, 2012
No Power at the workshop! Construction…heck…all of China is under construction. Old buildings coming down, new buildings going up, roads getting repaired the day after they are completed (local Chinese joke!) So we spent the day sketching, drawing and using hand tools, taking comments we got from the critique to move forward with our concepts. Peter's local nightclub was celebrating it’s 2nd anniversary, the whole gang was invited, so we had a fabulous meal on the rooftop. I MC’d the raffle and Rich and I each won a pair of Corona Flip-Flops…. go figure. Did I mention how wonderful our hosts are?!!
Day 14 - 27 May, 2012
Finally! A day off. For a few of us there was not a lot to write about today because we were too tired to do much! We’ve been going a hundred miles an hour for 13 straight days! Sleep in. Lazy breakfast. Fine weather. A bunch of us chatted and swapped stories about the “family” experience the night before, sharing pics of kids, descriptions of the food, etc.. Then the gang spit up for an afternoon of shopping, sight-seeing and exploring around…. some of us napped, got organized, and did some laundry. Another thing that is very different here. . . clothes dryers are hard to find and we have yet to find self-serve laundromats that we are used to back home. However, there are many places to drop off your laundry to be done, including the hotel. The funny thing is, when you turn it in, you may get some of other peoples clothes back or be missing some of your own. Some of us have started doing laundry in our sinks or buckets picked up at the local market. It was nice to have a day to do whatever. . . we head into the home stretch the next 2 weeks!
Day 13 - 26 May, 2012
Another day at the office…(workshop)…even though it is Saturday. Ever wonder why the Chinese economy is so hot? Everybody works all the time! We have lots to do so we only worked 9 to 4…a short little old 7 hour day! Why? Because each of us were invited to dinner at a HaPe employee’s home! We were individually treated to a family style home cooked meal complete with kids and spouses, and in some cases, grandparents. Just like home…except a half a world away. Everyone commented how wonderful the experience was. Not to mention the food! Our 3 friends from China Academy of the Arts went to a “German” home. It was a gesture of friendship that really gave us all a glimpse into the personal lives of the people who live and work in China. This ranks as one of the most enlightening moments in my many years of travel.
Day 12 - 25 May, 2012
Big Day! We had the morning to get ready for presentations, then lunch, then we did our team presentations. HaPe practically shut down the company because managers came from every department to review our concepts and basically give us a critique. Every concept from each team were reviewed and constructive comments were given. Each department weighed in from their perspective, including: trade, marketing, sales, technical, design, manufacturing, and executive. We got extensive feedback and were recognized for making excellent progress in such a short time. We are targeting final direction mid-next week. Oh yeah…and after the crit. we went out for another fabulous seafood dinner.
Day 11 - 24 May, 2012
Power outage at the workshop so we got to sleep in! The bus picked us up at noon and we went to Hape for lunch in the canteen. Then we all piled back in the bus and headed for the workshop for a real late night. As usual, the cook at the workshop made a great supper. Whoa….there are a lot of bugs flying around the lights at night! After dinner, we did a team-by-team review of the concepts and rough models in preparation for our first “official” crit scheduled for tomorrow afternoon. The kids, and their respective teams, have some great stuff and we are hoping that the Hape team is impressed…and…can give us some good feedback as we refine ideas and move forward. After all, Hape is the best wooden toy company in the world!
Day 10 - 23 May, 2012
You know the drill…Breakfast, Bus, Workshop, Lunch, Workshop, Bus, Dinner, Bus…..another full day. Peter brought customers to the workshop for a tour and dog and pony show. They were impressed. Peter got a glimpse of some concepts and seemed pleased. The workshop is cranking now…drilling , sanding, shaping, figuring, painting, trying options….it’s great. AMERICAN FOOD TONIGHT! HOT DOGS HAMBURGERS POTATO SALAD! We did a sing-a-long with guitars under the awnings because of the rain. Then Karaoke for Dustee’s Sending off and pre-birthday. A little fun after a long day.
Day 9 - 22 May, 2012
On the bus at 8AM…up the mountain, past the lake, winding down the road, get to the workshop and hit it hard! The kids are making great progress and some of the concepts are starting to take shape and come to life. After a full day at the workshop we went out for Hot Pot…..deeee-lish-us! Then the girls from China Academy showed us a dinner game and we were all roaring. JiMin lost and had to eat a spoonful of hot sauce! Hilarious! We are working hard and enjoying the experience and company. I wish every Otis student could experience this is some way…..
Day 8 - 21 May, 2012
This morning six of us went to a local facility that cares for children with disabilities. The facility was bright and colorful. The disabilities run a pretty full spectrum, with more severe conditions going to a more appropriate facility. 1 staff for every 3 kids, so care is pretty good. Everybody else got on the bus and went to the workshop. The six of us met them at 2PM for the balance of the day. Surprise!! Our hosts brought a coffee maker to the workshop! The students were now in full swing, working with craftsmen and starting to fabricate components and work out simple mechanical solutions in the sample room. The next few days should be more of the same with our target of Friday as our next critique. Another dinner planned for tonight!
Day 7 - 20 May, 2012
Another buffet breakfast of noodles and congee. We haven’t had a decent cup of coffee since we got here…..plenty of good tea though. On the bus at 8AM, sound familiar? First stop the Bamboo Market in downtown Anji. Lots of shops peddling local items, nic knacks, toys, home décor, woven goods and curious…all made from bamboo. Then to the ATM …everybody needed cash! Then to another bamboo market. Then to the Bamboo Museum….more like an arboretum featuring all kinds of bamboo. There were kid sized them park rides, peacocks, parrots and even pandas! They just sat on their haunches and devoured bamboo. Very cute. OK, there are only 4 people in the Otis world who have ridden a red mechanical bull inside a museum in China. So if anyone should ask, Otis was well-represented in the mechanical bull riding department. Another fabulous lunch at a local restaurant…..then we went to a bamboo factory that made furniture, lampshades, house wares, containers, I-Pad and I-Phone holders….you name it…out of bamboo. The students loved the product ideas and execution and many bought souvenirs from their sample tables. This factory was not operating on Sunday so we basically just got inspired by the variety and craftsmanship on display. Then a three hour bus ride, 20 minute break at our home hotel to freshen up, then off to dinner at Maibach for more American style food, including salad, french fries, potato salad, fried chicken, along with chicken hearts, duck, and sausage. So much for a restful Sunday!
Day 6 - 19 May, 2012
Out the door and on the bus to Anji at 8AM. 4 hours later, after driving in the rain, we visited 2 simple wooden toy factories. They were capable and clever but nowhere near as sophisticated as what we saw at HaPe. They were typically small, with older equipment, cluttered and did not exhibit the environmental sensitivity and higher level of process control and technical execution we saw at HaPe. None the less, the staff was friendly and talented. One of the factories was awarded a difficult component to manufacture, and after solving the associated manufacturing challenges to the satisfaction of the designer, they were awarded all of the production for the product. One thing is for sure, Chinese workers can solve problems using brains and practical tools….very resourceful. We got to see a couple of well-worn handmade tools used to perform craft-like wood-working. These centuries-old tools provided a stark contrast to the automation we saw at HaPe. Our party was served lunch from the factory kitchen and it was fabulous. After the factory tour we went for dinner in downtown Anji. The food was great, again, and our crowd drew stares from the locals who were curious, engaging and genuinely friendly toward us. After dinner, the party split up before heading back to the hotel. Four of us went into a little local shop for a beer, a plain 12” X 15” room establishment run by a family. The owners were curious and humorous, asking us where we were from. The cutest little one year old boy took a shine to us and kept us laughing….especially when he just squatted down and went about his humblest business right on the floor! His traditional toddler pants were designed centuries ago for just this basic human necessity. Adorable.
Did I mention that our hosts, traveling companions from HaPe, Bauhaus workshop alumni, fellow students from China Academy of the Arts, Otis staff and students are a great group to travel with? Well, they are and the trip has been delightful in every respect so far.
Day 5 - 18 May, 2012
Concept work all morning and some experimenting with materials in the sample room. Another fabulous home cooked meal and then in the afternoon we had our first critique or group brainstorm. Each team presented several rough concepts in sketch form. We used the cafeteria for presentation and group discussion. The plan is to let our concepts simmer over the weekend as we visit Anji and explore other factories and visit the bamboo museum, and target final concept selection before the end of the second week when we present to Peter and some other HaPe employees. After workshop the students wanted the night off to check out Beilun and eat Pizza and more familiar food. Staff went to a special restaurant to eat one of the many ethnic food types…similar to Hunan style. Excellent as usual and we had a firework show just outside the window, which filled the street with smoke. It was very exciting and we learned that fireworks go off often for celebrations such as birthdays and store or restaurant openings. Believe it or not…it turned out to be an early night for all.
Day 4 - 17 May, 2012
Up early, buffet breakfast and on the bus at 8:00AM for the 30 minute drive up into Beilun. Amazingly, we climbed in elevation and left the city for a rural mountainous road that took us to the Bamboo Workshop! There is a sample room with all of the hand tools we have in the Otis workshop and then some. Local craftsmen will teach us how to use them. Then we went into the main converting room. There we saw the real machines our guest lecturer researched and it became really clear how they work. The splitter (like an apple-slicing/coring machine), the milling machine (really could be called a molder), The vacuum-processing chamber and the drying room. We were then shown just how the noodles are converted into super-strong and good-looking laminated panels.
The research facility was an aluminum processing plant that was closed by the government for exceeding pollution standards…perfect for HaPe!. They create energy by burning scrap and pre-heating water by solar energy. Guess what? every light has its own switch. Lot’s of glass for sunlight to enter. The sample parts room is like a candy store! Rods, shafts, bushings, fasteners, springs, clips, threaded stock, dowels, magnets, fabric swatches, various and sundry hardware components and endless parts that can be used for generating solutions. Talk about kit bashing! Did I mention the nice classrooms? Well we broke into teams and each team took a classroom to start brainstorming….our kids are good at that having come from Otis. Almost forgot that we had a fabulous meal prepared right on site served on stainless steel platters …like in camp….only delicious. Oh yeah…the meal was after we hiked up and down and around the mountain that is covered with bamboo! It is the “Bamboo Forest” that is leased and managed by HaPe. They call it the Bamboo Ocean which is a very poetic way of seeing it. When you step back and look the culms and leaves sway back and forth in the wind and it looks like waves of the sea. Some of the taller bamboo were just 3 months old and 60 feet tall. We were told that certain species would grow 3 feet in a day….well it grows fast and about 20% can be harvested every year by collecting the culms that are 4-5 years old. Forgot to mention there is a spring fed lake retained by a reservoir behind the mountain. We may be able to camp there one night. People fish there and it is a real picturesque setting. We were pre-informed that bamboo exchanges more oxygen than a stand of trees…and you can tell. Hiking up the mountain inside the forest is cooler and smells fresher than the air outside the forest. Nothing like getting the facts proven in person! Rounded out the day with a Hunan style (spicy) dinner, party of about 25 and hit the sack early.
Day 3 - 16 May, 2012
Up at 10AM and on the bus to HaPe. We met Carrie from China Academy of the Arts. We had a full day starting with an orientation presentation about the history and philosophy of the company. Next was a thorough plant tour. The “green” streak that runs through HaPe is not just talk….they walk the walk on every opportunity to save energy and reduce consumption. They pipe steam from the local coal generating station to heat the building and dry paint then send cold water back to generating station. Sawdust is vacuum collected at every machine and shipped to the mushroom farm. Process water is treated on site, then used to flush toilets and mop floors. Wood scraps are burned for energy. Staff are given electric scooters. A beta solar charging station for scooters is planned for installation on the roof of the scooter parking area. Sorting through plant waste is profit center and individual business model. They pay double for low water content paint, apply half as much efficiently, use less energy to dry the paint and are getting brilliant results at a lower cost. They use recycled paper to make pallets that are super thin and can get 96% efficiency container loading. The canteen serves 1000 meals a day. The chef runs the canteen as separate business and makes great food (we ate there!). Meals for employees are subsidized and waste is collected and shipped to the pig farm! Workers are paid piece rate and can make bonus by exceeding production standards. Cost reductions savings are shared with employees who find ways to improve process. Every light at every workstation has an on-off switch, If there is no work at one station or in one whole bay…no energy is wastefully spent on lighting. The factory floors are modular with machines, power and lighting that can be moved around for each specific project, allowing for more efficiency and flexibility. In 3 1/2 hours we only visited 2 floors of shop and showrooms out of the 16 in total at HaPe factory. We rounded out the day with a Product Safety demonstration (like the one we had from our guest speaker in class at Otis before we left), then had dinner (party of 50 guests, employees, families and Workshop alumni from Bauhaus at the Buddha Restaurant.
Day 1 & 2 - 14,15 May, 2012
We met at LAX at 10:15 AM. It was a zoo and Matt was there to assist with ticketing. He kept us all together and got us expedited through check-in. After security we were delayed about an hour. Then we got on the plane and were scattered throughout the cabin. 11 hours later we hit Tokyo and got a quick bite, did a bit of shopping, and got on facebook for the last time during our 2 hour layover. We arrived in Shanghai after 3 more hours in the air. An hour after arriving we met Yvonne, Rich and Hans from HaPe. He put us on a bus for another 3 hours and we arrived at our hotel just after 3AM on May 16. A long trip…but so worth it!