Global creative company Loftwork and innovation lab FabCafe have launched their annual art award, the YouFab Global Creative Awards, with a powerful and current theme for 2021 – “Democratic experiments”.

Founded in 2011 when 3D printers and laser cutters were still relatively unknown, the YouFab Awards sought to show people the possibilities that could be accomplished through these new technologies, and in 2015, a dress created with a 3D printer was awarded with the Grand Prize.

Kinematics Dress bynervous system (YouFab 2015)

Now in its 10th year, the global award competition seeks to continue the vision – that tomorrow can be born through our making.

This year, the awards are challenging artists to create democratically in the face of a world on the brink of crisis. 

In order to create with integrity, artists must take into account the relationships with multiple – and even countless – stakeholders, considering not just the needs of the client or target user, but also the extended relationships of other humans and elements of their environment from animals, plants, fungi, minerals and even the dead.

However, the habits of mass production and consumption that humans have become accustomed to have severed the relationships with the countless stakeholders, leading to the global environmental destruction and imbalance of wealth of today.

For its 10th anniversary, YouFab is calling on artists and creators around the world to rekindle the democratic potential of a manufacturing site and come up with an answer to the world’s most pressing problems through consulting a myriad of stakeholders and building democracy through making.

 A rare category-free award, YouFab is open to work from all fields – from art, performance, product, service, architecture, community to any other multidisciplinary field.

Penta KLabs by Collective Hysteria (YouFab 2019), the Grand Prize winning work as a community project.

It is also open to creators of all ages and nationalities from around the world. 

All works will be accepted, including works in progress as well as prototypes and those that have already been published or released. 

Works will be judged based on five criteria – innovation, awareness of the audience, experiential quality, interpretation of the theme and whether it embodies the “fab” spirit of open-mindedness.

Chaired by Asa Itoh, Director of the Center for Future Humanity, Faculty of Science and Technology Innovation at Tokyo Institute of Technology, the 2021 Awards’ features a panel of esteemed and international panel of judges.

They include Fiona de Bell and Roel Schoenmakers of the Amsterdam-based Cascoland, an international network of artists, architects, designers and performers; Kampire Bahana, one of East Africa’s most exciting DJs and a core member of Kampala’s Nyege Nyege collective, and Curator / Editor Arina Tsukada, founder of The Whole Universe Association.

Chief Judge

Asa Ito
Director, Future of Humanity Research Center, Institute of Innovative Research, Tokyo Institute of Technology


Arina Tsukada
Founder of The Whole Universe Association


International Amsterdam-based network of artists, architects, designers and performers

Kampire Bahana

DJ / Nyege Nyege collective

Interview Article

Creating Safe Spaces For Minorities Through Music And Art: Q&A With Ugandan DJ Kampire Bahana >> Red More

Besides the general and student categories, applicants can enter their works in the special Panasonic STEAM Award, which will be awarded to works that will improve society and life, in line with the “Democratic Experiment” theme.

AkeruE, Panasonic’s New Creative Museum

YouFab 2021 winners will receive a trophy and cash prize and have their works shown at an exhibition at the Panasonic Center Tokyo in March 2022. STEAM Award winners will receive a US$1,000 cash prize, as well as the opportunity to have their work installed as a permanent exhibition at the Panasonic Creative Museum AkeruE in the same building.

Previous YouFab winners and judges include BBC 100 Women honoree Amy Karle, Forbes 30 under 30 Kazuya Kawasaki, Gerfried Stocker, artistic director of Ars Technica and Steve Tidball, co-founder of Vollebak.

This year’s key visuals were created by visual programmer Kitasenju Design and algorithmic designer Junichiro Horikawa under the art direction of SHA inc.

The design features a special cellular automaton with a mixture of multiple rules that changes the YouFab logo in a variety of ways to represents the diversity and polarity of change in line with the theme of “democratic experiments”. See YouFab 2021 website for the visuals. 

Award organizers will be holding a kick-off event at the end of August featuring a fireside chat with the President of the jury, Aasa Ito, jury member Cascoland and other distinguished guests from Japan and abroad. Advance booking is required.

Entry Info
Theme: Democratic experiment(s)
Application period: Sunday Aug. 1, 2021 – Sunday Oct. 31, 2021, 12:00 (Japan time)
Entry Requirements: Works of all categories and stages of creation are welcome. Individuals, groups, companies and other production teams are also welcome.

Applicants can enter the same works for consideration for the Panasonic STEAM Award as well as the YouFab 2021 Awards.

Awards :

Grand Prize (1): Kohei Nawa-designed trophy and US$2,000
First Prize (1): Kohei Nawa-designed trophy and US$2,000
Student Prize (1): Certificate and US$500
Finalist (several): Certificate
Panasonic STEAM Award: $1,000 USD and the opportunity for a permanent exhibition at the Panasonic Creative Museum, AkeruE


Next Contents

Announcing the 28 Winners of the 2023 crQlr Awards – the Global Award to Design a Circular Economy

Loftwork magazine Subscribe for stories in designs and innovation monthly.