Contactless (by default)

The trend of praising “physicality” and “analogue-ness”, which emerged as a counter to our collective transition to digital technology, has recently been stymied by the arrival of the Coronavirus. As an effect of this, the discourse surrounding analogue experiences has been shut off from its full potential. For instance, some in the digital streaming music industry claim that “real, physical experience” will only grow in importance, but I have found these discourses lacking in elaboration, and thus they have never yet managed to convince me entirely.

The discourse which claims the “importance of experience” often neglects other experiences — such as binge watching Netflix, or listening to a playlist on Spotify while jogging or biking. As a result, they fail to define the value, if any, of physical experience, and end up being mere nostalgia: old-fashioned people saying old-fashioned things.

The Coronavirus has posed a thrilling quandary to us all by blowing away people’s vague expectations of “the importance of physical experience”. If the value of physicality continues to be crucial to us, then we need to redefine the value of physicality after / during the pandemic, with the limitation that people can’t be as close to one another as they were previously.

From bathrooms to payment systems, the technologies and systems that allow us to be “contactless” will be applied in various places and situations in society. These are systems that defend us from infection, but it’s questionable if they are positive proposals, turning adversity into opportunity.

This year’s YouFab Global Awards focuses on how we can redesign and reframe humanity, physicality, and “real experience” given the context of a world where being contactless has become the default. It could be a proposal for a new technology or system, or a new behavioral pattern. The focus could be anything: a house, school, office, commercial facility, clothing, transportation, food, event, festival, dating, funeral, etc.

In other words, our challenge to you is to redesign, and then re-value “experience” through a“contactless” lens. We look forward to the projects that shed light on experiences that bring humanity back to everyday life — the kind of experiences that can be overlooked from a public health or administrative perspective. Perhaps these experiences could seem frivolous at first glance. A small discovery of something seemingly worthless yet potentially important could be easily lost unless it finds a space that allows free thinking, such as this award.

Chief Judge
Kei Wakabayashi

Chief Judge

Kei Wakabayashi


Kei Wakabayashi was born in 1971 and spent his early childhood in London and New York. After graduating from the School of Humanities and Social Sciences in French Studies at Waseda University, he joined Heibonsha, and became part of the editorial department for "Gekkan Taiyo." In 2000, became an independent editor. Afterward, he edited a wide range of publications, including magazines, books, and exhibition records, and became active as a music journalist. He was assigned as the Chief Editor for the Japanese edition of "WIRED" in 2012, and left the post in 2017. In 2018, he launched blkswn publishers, Inc. and authored the book, "Sayonara Mirai" (Goodbye, Future), published by Iwanami Shoten (April​ 2018).