World Maker Faire NY: Puff interview

World Maker Faire NY: Puff interview

In just over a week, we’ll be hosting our first ever World Maker Faire NY, taking place September 25 and 26 at the New York Hall of Science in Queens. The scope of projects that will be presented at the Faire is nothing short of amazing. One project is Karolina Sobecka’s Puff, the environmentally focused gadget and accompanying app intended to keep users informed of their carbon emissions. We chatted with Karolina to learn more about her and her project.

1. Tell us about the project you’re bringing to Maker Faire.
My project is Puff, a car accessory in a shape of a cartoon cloud that attaches near the exhaust pipe of the car and that changes color depending on the amount of pollution that the car is producing. A companion iPhone app provides feedback for the driver, displays the emission rates, and keeps track of the data over time.


2. How did you hear about Maker Faire and why did you decide to participate?
I’m a subscriber to MAKE magazine, and I think there will be tons of really interesting projects there.

3. Tell us about yourself. How did you get started making things and who are your inspirations?
I’m an artist and a designer, but so far I’ve been making mostly computer-generated things. This was my first real endeavor into making objects, and in particular an object that’s a functional, though whimsical, electronic device. I’ve been inspired by Sherry Turkle’s notion of “evocative objects” as the “things we think with” and by Anthony Dunne’s writing and work on “critical design.” And I’ve been inspired by the collaborative and open source spirit of communities like Maker Faire that allow for new structuring of relationships between people who use things and people who make them.

4. Is your project strictly a hobby or a budding business? Does it relate to your day job?
My day job is design and art, and the project is both art and design, though it’s not a feasible or practical design object, or a traditional art piece.


5. What new idea (in or outside of your field) has excited you most recently?
An idea that objects around us are props and cues that we map meaning and knowledge onto, so they become a kind of cognitive extension of our minds — this was from an article in the This Will Change Everything: Ideas That Will Shape the Future book quite appropriately.


6. What is your motto?
At the moment it’s something like: “Worrying doesn’t help.”

7. What advice would you give to the young makers out there just getting started?
If it’s fun now it’s only going to get more fun. If it’s hard now, it will get easier later.

8. What do you love most about NYC?
That everything is here.

Thanks, Karolina! For all the information you need to attend the Faire, including getting tickets online, check out the World Maker Faire NY site.

2 thoughts on “World Maker Faire NY: Puff interview

  1. says:

    I like the idea of the app particularly. Though the cloud thing in the exhaust pipe, not so much. But I sure wouldn’t mind being able to know emissions info particularly if it is accurate and since it stores the info for looking at after the drive. That way I am not distracted during the drive. Too many gadgets in the car can be a problem in my view when it comes to focused driving.

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I'm a word nerd who loves to geek out on how emerging technology affects the lexicon. I was an editor on the first 40 volumes of MAKE, and I love shining light on the incredible makers in our community. In particular, covering art is my passion — after all, art is the first thing most of us ever made. When not fawning over perfect word choices, I can be found on the nearest mountain, looking for untouched powder fields and ideal alpine lakes.

Contact me at or via @snowgoli.

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