Architecture and Design

Cladograms, Beautiful Lights, and Dibs-Worthy Designs at Pecha Kucha 2

There were no swag bags at the second installment of Pecha Kucha 2 this weekend at Bragg's Pie Factory in Phoenix, in fact, there weren't even programs. The design-centric presentation event was less TED or Ignite (read: formal, high-tech) and more a hangout of designophiles talking about their current obsessions and future projects -- in 20 slides -- over beer, wine, and few appetizers.

Each talk was close to six minutes, 40 seconds, and almost always included a "Wow, I didn't time this right" comment from the presenter. The local-design, star-studded show, including the likes of Margaret Bruning, Lisa JacobsAlison King, Dean Heckler, and Brian Shaler (to name a few) was surprisingly low-key.

While presentations often included a sprinkling of expected design-industry lingo, the non-industry attendees definitely managed through the two hours ... either that, or they drank the most.

So what were the presentations all about? More details after the jump ...

An estimated-100 attendees sat comfortably in the main room of Bragg's Pie Factory on Grand Avenue and McKinley Streets around 7 p.m. on Friday. While "happy hour" began around 5:30 p.m., tickets were still collected and drinks passed out until 15 minutes after the event was slated to begin.

Coordinator Jason Ayers then dimmed the lights and led the crowd through the pronunciation and meaning of the Japanese term, Pecha Kucha. It doesn't actually sound anything much like it's written, but describes the noise of people chatting. Fair enough.

The audience let out a disappointed sigh when Ayers announced that photographer Quincy Ross, and visual artist Lalo Cota had dropped out of the event; in the end, though, two less presentations meant 13 minutes and 20 seconds more time to chat up a favorite presenter or to wander off to the nearby Bikini Lounge or Paisley Violin.

First up was Lisa Jacobs, a local designer and founder of Sticker Club and Conspire in Phoenix. She flicked through slides of herself as a child as she explained why she started the community-based get together and the co-op that now occupies the corner of Fifth and Garfield Streets.

She was followed by Dean Heckler, a designer, who aims to create everyday objects that have "dibs-worthiness," or will cause his kids and future generations to fight over for their lasting design, including his dibsworthy desk. (At this point a few bottles had dropped to the floor.)

Angela Cazel Jahn's talk on the cladogram (the tree-like graphic used most often in evolutionary biology) was a bit high-concept, but was full of interesting charts and drawings that kept people clued in long enough for Margaret Bruning to present on David Therrien's Beautiful Light installation (check out the promo video below).

Therrien's piece spent time in Phoenix and Toronto, and was the first public art piece to be shared between two cities in two different countries. Brunning's voice shook, though, as she announced that city had cut the project's funding that week and the future of the project was uncertain.

Brian Shaler, the graphic designer, garnered the most attention with his explanation of "beauty in numbers," or importance of visualization when it comes to data. His slideshow was full of graphic eye candy (insert "oohs" and "aahs") representing world conflicts and complex data.

Alison King explained her adventures in the Getty Research Center looking for images taken of Phoenix architecture by famed photographer Julius Shulman (check out the trailer for his seriously cool documentary, Visual Acoustics, here). And Taz Loomans wrapped up the evenings presentations with a short on the "death of architecture" in Phoenix, and the future of the Bicycle Boulevard that's planned to run from Gateway Community College through Downtown and then to northwest Phoenix (map below).

As quickly as the presentations began and finished, the lights flicked back on and the chatter returned, and which is what Pecha Kucha (however the hell it's pronounced) is all about, anyway.

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Claire Lawton
Contact: Claire Lawton