Designer Zhuojia Lyu has brought innovation to the forefront with her creation, the MoNA app, short for “The Museum of New Antiques.” The app is a groundbreaking initiative in the Banshan Village of Hangzhou, China, which earned the distinction of being the first “zero-carbon village” in the country in 2020.
The MoNA app is a platform designed to foster sustainability and co-entrepreneurship. Lyu’s vision includes a space where individuals can donate items they wish to be upcycled. From discarded clothes to unwanted furniture, the Center of Antique Renovation in the village transforms these items into unique art pieces, showcasing them both within the village and on the app.
The underlying goal of the app is connectivity. Users can not only purchase these upcycled art pieces through the app but also participate in workshops and events. These gatherings provide an opportunity for villagers to engage in collaborative, large-scale recycled art projects. Lyu emphasizes that this interaction is not just about creating art but also serves as a means for villagers to exchange renovation skills, connect with artists, and repurpose old, discarded items.
The app functions as more than just a marketplace; it serves as an online exhibition platform as well. Villagers can use the app to share news about upcoming events and workshops, creating a digital space that mirrors the vibrant community initiatives in the Banshan Village. Lyu’s emphasis on community-building through her creation aligns with the village’s commitment to low-carbon living, making it a cohesive and sustainable rural design project.
A distinctive feature of the MoNA app is its categorization of items by region. Users can easily browse through the latest popular products uploaded by villagers and choose items based on their geographical preferences. This unique approach adds a personalized touch to the user experience and reinforces the community-driven nature of the initiative.
Zhuojia Lyu, the visionary behind the MoNA app, describes herself as a designer who seeks freshness and excitement. Her commitment to socially conscious projects is evident in her journey, where she constantly strives to use creativity and innovative design techniques to contribute to the betterment of the world. Lyu’s dedication is reflected in her pursuit of knowledge, as seen in her completion of the Harvard Programming Course on edX in 2021 to better understand the field of interaction design.
Her design prowess extends beyond the digital realm, as demonstrated by her participation in the IDEA Industrial Design Competition in the United States, where she and her friends earned a bronze award for their design of a portable kettle. Additionally, her involvement in a national-level university innovation and entrepreneurship competition showcased her commitment to sustainability, with a project focused on reusing fruit peels for food packaging.
Lyu’s international engagements include participation in the Demola Finland co-creation project “Overton Window in 2050” and the co-creation project “Gamification of Everything” in 2021 and 2022, respectively. Her diverse experiences culminated in an internship at the Wansong Ancient Architecture Company in July 2023, followed by a collaboration with the head of the DN Digital Nomad Community in Zhejiang Province to organize a personal design exhibition on privacy data in November 2023.
In conclusion, Zhuojia Lyu’s MoNA app stands as a testament to her commitment to sustainable and community-driven design. By transforming discarded items into art pieces and fostering connectivity within the Banshan Village, Lyu has created a platform that goes beyond being a mere app—it’s a catalyst for positive social and environmental change.
“This project is a solution to local environmental problems and a response to China’s rural revitalization strategy,” said Lyu.
“Through this project, we hope to provide a viable model for China’s rural revitalization and encourage other villages to participate in this environmental co-creation.”
She also said that this app was built as a platform and communication center for the village. “The app not only showcases our operation model in Banshan Village but also encourages more villages to join the environmental movement on the “Join Us” page to create a sustainable community, she said.