April 25, 2011

Week in Events: Our Thoughts on Pecha Kucha 22 and the 37th Annual Dwiggins Lecture

PechaKucha Boston Logo & Luba Lukova Lecture Poster

It’s finally spring again, and at Corey we’re not only celebrating the good weather, but also the greater number of design lectures and events in town. Last week was nearly filled to the brim with events, and we were lucky enough to attend two – Boston’s 22nd PechaKucha event at Club Oberon, and the 37th annual Dwiggins Lecture in the Boston Public Library. We asked each other questions to share our thoughts on these events with you on The Bulb, and invite you to contribute to the conversation.

For anyone not familiar, PechaKucha is a monthly series of rapid-paced presentations by those involved in the design community. It runs on a 20×20 format (20 slides, 20 seconds per slide), so there is time to see many presenters all within one evening.

Ari: In design, sometimes the strongest solutions come out of strictest limitations. Did any of the presenters utilize the unique requirements of the presentation platform to their advantage? And if so, was their work more compelling as a result?

Ryan: As strategists, designers, information architects, and technologists we are all called on to present our ideas frequently (sometimes too frequently!). Using an artificial constraint such as the PechaKucha 20×20 format not only helps the audience by ensuring presentations are concise, but helps the speaker focus their thoughts like a laser. If you know that every slide will only be displayed for only 20 seconds, you think hard about what you want to say about that slide. At Corey McPherson Nash we all critique each others’ work on a daily basis, trying to find the best solution to our client’s problems. Sometimes you can find the best critique in a lens like a Pecha Kucha format, helping you look at your ideas from a new perspective and separate the wheat from the chaff.

Liz: As a presenter, would you find the fast pace of Pecha Kucha presentations appealing, or something to avoid at all costs?

John: I think it depends on the presenter, really. Some people really roll with it and use the fast pace to their advantage in a comfortable and smooth flow of dialogue. Generally, I find that the format works best when sticking to one concept or idea. Or as a “teaser” on an interesting subject or body of work. When the presenter is very clear and to-the-point on what they want to share, it can be a great way to share a bit of information and get people interested in learning more.

Ari: Who was your favorite presenter of the night, and why?

John: My favorite presenter of the night was Jackie Douglas of Livable Streets Alliance. She informed on the work she does to push for a more bicycle- and pedestrian-friendly city of Boston. It was refreshing to learn that there’s an organization here that’s devoted to that – I’ve been to Amsterdam and Copenhagen where pedestrian-ways and bicycle paths are fully integrated into the infrastructure of the city. I personally love biking, and I think that a futuristic Boston that is open-minded to more of a built-in system would be both useful and beautiful. Boston’s kind of notorious for being a dangerous city for bicyclists. Narrow streets, too many one-ways, notoriously aggressive drivers. I’ve seen motorists shout at and taunt bikers. I think it’s fabulous that people like Jackie are working hard for their vision of a cleaner, safer, and more efficient city.

Liz: I also really enjoyed Jackie Douglas’s presentation on her work advocating street designs that address multiple uses. During her presentation she didn’t directly face the audience which surprised me, but she had a very energetic and personable way of speaking. She encouraged the audience to picture themselves in the images she showed of familiar Boston sites, and imagine the possibilities that could take place within the landmarks we all knew so well. Her ability to present her points in a way that was easy for the audience to relate to was what I thought made her presentation really successful.

Dwiggins Lecture
A highly anticipated event within the Corey studio, the annual Dwiggins Lecture, presented by the Boston Society of Printers in association with the Boston Public Library, has featured countless top-notch speakers throughout its 37 year tenure (our very own Michael McPherson designed the award-winning poster for the 2009 event!) This year, we were fortunate to see world-renowned designer Luba Lukova speak about her work.

John: Lukova’s work is symbolic and often involves metaphors that confront issues of humanity, politics, and social justice. Were there any particular pieces that resonated with you, or perhaps a current issue that she has addressed in her work?

Liz: I enjoyed learning more about Lukova’s Social Justice series. One particular poster featured an uncovered umbrella frame representing health coverage. She explained extending this imagery into the exhibit itself, using structures in the shape of these empty umbrella frames to display the pieces of the show. In this sense, the image from the poster became a way to represent the broader sentiment of the show. I thought it was a great way to communicate the subject matter of her poster series in a way that extends through the environment in which they were viewed, and underscored the messages in the posters in a thought-provoking way.

Health Coverage by Luba Lukova

Health Coverage by Luba Lukova

John: You had mentioned that you were intrigued when learning about her work habits and the process involved in her work. Can you elaborate on any interesting points or techniques she shared?

Liz: I was really interested to hear Lukova speak about the way she works. She elaborated on her process of sketching and trying out all sorts of possibilities before settling on a solution. Yet, she stated that the ideas that stick can come at any point – whether 5 minutes after she begins her thinking, or after countless prototypes. She emphasized the importance of holding on to all of her process work (although she said it can be difficult to find the space to do this!), since an idea that wouldn’t really fit for one particular piece could contribute to the idea or solution for a piece in the future.

We hope to hear your thoughts on these events and hope to see you at more upcoming events.

The image at top displays: (left) PechaKucha Boston Identity, and (right) Luba Lukova’s Dwiggins Lecture Poster

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