Initiating next-generation industry for Ciman Village while enhancing its unique identity

Volunteer Project
Product Design | Mobile
Service Blueprinting
Event Planning


“Home@Ciman” is the design outcome of the volunteer project in Ciman village, aimed at helping the locals to renovate their hometown both financially and culturally. The project was one of the “Rural Revitalization” series promoted by Tsinghua University, sponsored by the school and local governments.

My Role

Research Coordination & Interviews
Concept Development
Strategy Design
Service Design & Blueprint
Wireframing & Prototyping


9 Domestic & 6 International Students


3 weeks


How might a service system revitalize Ciman Village in both industry & culture and enhance its social engagement & identity as an Ethnic Minority village?

Ciman Village, Lijiang, Yunnan Province, China

Ciman is an Ethnic Minority village of Naxi People, located in suburban Lijiang, a well-known tourist city in southwest China. Though abundant in unique architectural settlements, ethnic culture, and natural sceneries, the local industry was still predominantly agricultural.
As the primary industry was no longer enough for local financial needs, and the lack of job and entrepreneur opportunity drove the youth to urban areas, resulting in labor loss, Ciman Village needed a thorough re-examination of its potential and development strategies.

We learned through our research that in addition to a single industrial structure, the lack of public exposure and social engagement is a crucial factor that limited Ciman's development in other forms of tertiary industry. Another key focus area was the unique cultural entity of the Naxi People, which formed the sense of local community and a unique identity that would attract social investment.
While seeking strategies for renovation, the local villagers demonstrated a wish to maintain their previous lifestyles and Naxi culture: understanding there were two groups of users--the outsider who received the service and the local who provided the service--was key to the concept development of this project.

Final Solution

"Home@Ciman": a composite service system to connect Ciman with visitors, share the local life, and preserve Naxi culture by encouraging immersive cultural experiences

Conceptual Model

How could we combine different industrial features to promote the village's development?
How would the service system fit both the lifestyle needs of the local people and the experience of the visitors?
We developed the concept model of 3 different modes (Daily/Weekend/Festival) to answer the focused questions above.

In daily mode, the local villagers could continue their previous lifestyle while uploading photos of specialties and putting them on sale.
When they have time, they could start a home cuisine, become a hosting family, and set the available time for visitors to reserve, forming the weekend mode.
The local community would unite together to hold the theme tour events in festival mode.

How It Works

"Home@Ciman" covers events, space, mobile app, and branding as a composite service system to provide the visitors with a seamless experience as well as developing strategies of different industrial directions for the local community.

Event: Festival Theme Tour

We converted the traditional Naxi festivals into a theme tour experience that could represent the unique identity of Ciman and attract visitors as well.
In such theme tours, visitors would have the opportunity to attend the Naxi culture workshop, try featured clothes and cuisines, join in games to redeem souvenirs, and interact closely with the locals.
It was also a meaningful way to encourage the young people in Ciman to inherit their culture and start a business in their hometown.

Space: Revitalize Courtyards

The spatial reconstruction was the material foundation for "Home@Ciman."
The strategy was to develop different open modes of village homes, implement events, and integrate them into festival theme tours. These unique yards were scattered throughout the whole village to promote future industrial development.

Mobile App: Composite Platforms

The 'Home@Ciman' provided 3 modes for the local villagers to choose how they'd like to participate in the service system. The mobile product aimed to facilitate the whole experience of different actions and statuses.
We made hi-fi prototyping of how to present those features to potential visitors: enable them to browse specialty stores, check hosting family and home cuisines details, and read guidance about festival events.

Specialties + Souvenirs

We designed postcards based on illustrations and photography and developed a story to envision Ciman after implementing the 'Home@Ciman' system.

Service Blueprint

The 3 different modes matching both villagers' and users' various life states were combined into a service system, providing users with a seamless experience.



Exploratory Research

We took on an integrated method of primary and secondary research during the exploratory research phase. For primary research, we expected to understand the local's pain points, expectations, as well as to discover unique features of potential through on-site observation and in-person interviews. For secondary research, we investigated additional geographical features to gain an overview of Ciman's possible orientation in its surrounding environment and its image to the society.

Key Insights

We synthesized and narrowed in on key insights to evaluate Ciman's potential and to guide future ideation with a focus on 4 directions:
1. Emotions & Expectations--the villagers: What did they want, and how did they feel?
2. Resources & Capacity--the material foundation: What could the village provide?
3. Unique Features--the cultural foundation: What made Ciman stand out, and what potential did it have?
4. Predicament--the limitation: What previously prevented those advantages from bringing success to the village?


Stakeholders ➕ Resources ➕ Features ➡️ Possible props ➡️ Integration Methods

The brainstorming process involved a circular consideration of both stakeholders and props, which helped us sort out as many solutions as possible and decide the priority and impact correlation.

Defining Stakeholders

The exploratory research revealed that binding the village with society was the key to breaking down current predicaments. With a focus on people, we also realized that such connection should be mutually beneficial, so we mapped out possible stakeholders and how they could receive a positive impact.

Resources Analysis & Props Seeking

Moving on from people, we focused on possible props to convert Ciman's resources through a brainstorming workshop.
The key focus was to answer what services Ciman village could provide to the society and what special features made such services feasible and beneficial to the locals in return.
After brainstorming, we developed possible integration methods that could combine those props into a service system.


We matched different service modes with the interests of both users and creators to form an integrated system strategy

Concept Evaluation

We interviewed the villagers and did an online survey on travel-lovers through tourism apps to evaluate our concepts. It was surprising to know that in Ciman's history, the courtyards were indeed once open, and the local villagers welcomed the idea to reopen their yards. They also mentioned that they still wanted to preserve the privacy of their previous life.
We used a matrix to weigh these methods when considering the balance of previous lifestyles and the reorganization of local industrial systems. The mapping revealed the importance and feasibility of taking different modes. They each reached a balance when multiplying direct impact scale and time duration.

This project was short-term volunteer work, and our motivation was to provide strategies that could further guide local development. Though different in feasibility, we still decided to carry out strategy and conceptual design of all 3 modes.



As the categorization of 'modes' focused on the work-life styles of the Ciman local community, we brainstormed scenarios in further detail targeted at combining various visitors with local villagers to develop the service blueprinting.


We combined cultural and spatial resources to convert abstract forms of value into tangible interactions and engagement with society

Integrating Space and Activities

To clarify the possible implementation of 'Festival Mode,' we developed a conceptual model of the 'theme tour' experience, integrated courtyards renovation, matched various forms of Naxi culture with detailed interactions, and proposed renovation strategies of village courtyards.

Event Planning

Spatial Renovation

We moved on from event planning and flows to the possible implementation in physical space in Ciman village and redesigned the site plan structure. Considering the gradual phrases needed for long-term development, we also clarified progressive stages for urban development.

Mobile Prototyping

We planned for the key features for the 'Home@Ciman' product, regarding both the visitor side and administration system for the villagers. As for wireframing and prototyping, we focused more on the visitor side, on how to present Ciman village to society.

Key Features

Site Map


Souvenir + Branding

We designed postcards based on illustrations and photography and developed a story to envision Ciman after implementing the 'Home@Ciman' system. The story consisted of paintings reflecting the beautiful sceneries and emotional ties of the Ciman people. It was both a souvenir brochure introducing Ciman to future visitors and an impelling story to help villagers and visitors realize the value of their engagement.

Storybook & Illustrations



01 Understanding both users and creators of the service

A sustainable service system both considers users who receive the service and attaches great importance to the well-being of the creators. Substantial research, interviews, and understanding are crucial and rewarding as well.

02 Enhancing the value of vernacular and traditional culture

In the ever-developing modern world, the best way to preserve a unique culture could be to help the locals continue to live as they would live before. We only need to develop a slight modification for them to fit in with society--inviting others to participate and interact.

03 Diversity, communication, and collaboration

The close negotiation with the local community and the coordination between Chinese and international students enabled me to gain a deep and thorough understanding of the project, the locals, and the teams. I greatly benefited from the inspiring talks I shared with students from very different backgrounds, and I was truly happy to know that they also gained a lot from this meaningful journey.

Meet our team & Ciman's local community🎉

Presenting to the local government