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Pecha Kucha Night Vancouver reflects depth of city's design community

Stephen Cox once described the Vancouver design community as undiscovered territory – something he’s been working hard to change. For nearly…

By Jessica Linzey , in Beyond Vancouverism: Urban design under shadows of glass and concrete , on March 12, 2010 Tags: , , , ,

Stephen Cox once described the Vancouver design community as undiscovered territory – something he’s been working hard to change.

For nearly two years, the principal of local design studio Cause+Affect has been inviting the city’s creative thinkers to the stage for Pecha Kucha Night.

Born in Tokyo in 2003, Pecha Kucha (from the Japanese word for the sound of chit-chat) was devised by architects Astrid Klein and Mark Dytham as a way of bringing young designers together to share their work in public.

Since then, it’s grown into a massive celebration of local talent on a global scale – as of this week, PKN is held in 286 cities around the world.

The format of the event keeps the night moving at a clip: Each speaker gets 20 images x 20 seconds. Centre stage for a just under seven minutes, the best speakers leave the audience wanting more; the worst are bearable. Brilliant.

Here’s Booooooom‘s Jeff Hamada at PKN Vancouver Volume 6 in May 2009:


In Vancouver, demand for tickets is such that the next event will be held at the Vogue Theatre, where capacity (1150) is twice what it was at the Park Theatre, PKN’s last home.

The move to a larger venue is not insignificant.

The consistently high quality of speakers – a dozen or so per event – is a testament to the depth and richness of Vancouver’s arts and design community, and growing public interest in Pecha Kucha shows the great appetite here for engaging in creative conversation.

Gordon Campbell, take note: Some of us British Columbians still value the arts.

A diverse roster of speakers takes to the stage at every event. Here are a few of the designers and architects that caught my imagination last year:

1. Organelle Design partners Alex Witko and Courtney Hunt (PKN Vol 7) spoke to slides showing an amazing array of art – everything from architecture to lights made of harvested waste.

2. mcfarlane green biggar architecture + design (mgb) principal Michael Green (PKN Vol 6) spoke charmingly of his greatest passion – his two kids – to a set of beautiful images. The architecture is equally powerful: This week the firm won two International Interior Design Association awards for the Rennie Gallery + Offices in Chinatown and the LYNNSteven boutique.

3. Top city planner Brent Toderian (PKN Vol 8.) was a surprise hit, extolling his love for certain design features – in other cities.

4. And finally, architect Oliver Lang (PKN Vol 5) looked at how his firm is responding to urban population growth. Here’s that presentation.

Volume 10 happen April 8. Why not join in the conversation?

Photo of PKN poster courtesy of Flickr user kk+.