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Last night I enjoyed the monthly Pecha Kucha event in San Francisco (pronounced pe-CHA-k’cha, quickly). It’s like Dorkbot for designers, but with a format similar to Ignite events.  Each presenter has 20 slides that show for 20 seconds each, and advance automatically. The event took place at the Children’s Creativity Museum (formerly, Zeum), and the theme was “Creating outside the lines.”

Here Are Some Highlights:

  1. Cartoonist Nick Dragotta, who draws Howtoons in MAKE magazine, talked about DIY comics and demonstrated the classic Marshmallow Shooter project that appeared in MAKE Volume 02. Dragotta explained that he and the other Howtoons collaborators avoid being didactic. They never say “here, do this,” but instead integrate the how-to information into the storytelling. The Howtoons cartoons are anthologized in two books, and because the first book includes cartoons showing power tools, the publisher was afraid of having it shelved in the Children’s section of bookstores– so it went into the adult Science instead.
  2. Designer Alberto Villareal showed how he and some pals turned some misprinted books into skateboard decks, by cutting the pages out, folding and weaving them together, then encasing them in resin. Originally they just poured the resin over the paper, but the result was too flexible, so they made a fiberglass mold of a skateboard deck and cast the paper and resin inside. The resulting skateboard is heavier and more flexible than a plywood skateboard.
  3. Balloon artist Brian Asman presented his work and explained that, after seeing the play R. Buckminster Fuller: The History (And Mystery) Of The Universe, he was inspired to develop a tetrahedron balloon element. It was so strong that it became the basis for a full-size balloon sofa that adults can sit on.
  4. Artist Jenny Chapman described her public sculpture Manifest Destiny! (in collaboration with Mark Reigelman), for which a small steel-framed log cabin was grafted four stories high onto the side of the Hotel des Artes building in San Francisco. She also described her Bridge Equality project, which seeks to make a political cause of temporarily switching the paint colors between the Golden Gate and Oakland Bay bridges.
  5. Furniture maker Dylan Gold showed some of his amazing designs, eliciting gasps from the audience. He described M. C. Escher as an early influence, and recounted his career trajectory from commercial graphic artist to woodworker. (Photo: Garry McLeod)
  6. Sam Haynor described what it’s like to help kids develop their own inventions at the Mission Science Workshop, a makerspace for underprivileged youth. He said that the empowerment of things like drill presses and chain saws is unparallelled in the kids’ lives, and observed that the fourth grade is about the age that kids start crossing out their own drawings because they didn’t turn out right.  One example invention he helped a kid with was The Farting Poopunator, a device conceived to collect farts and poo from the user, for throwing at enemies. Using this example, Haynor explained how the process of invention and hands-on development with children is more important than the end product.

Fun! Pecha Kucha events take place in dozens of cities, and are expanding to more locations with support from Autodesk.

Paul Spinrad

Paul Spinrad

Paul Spinrad is a broad-spectrum enthusiast, writer, maker, and dad who lives in San Francisco. He hatches schemes at http://investian.com.


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