Pecha-Kucha Practically Pitch Perfect

Hosts for Knoxville’s First PechaKucha

Crowd at PechaKucha, West Jackson Workshops, Knoxville, February 2011

I had read the descriptions of PechaKucha and I understood that people would make presentations regarding their creative endeavors and that they would have a limit of twenty seconds for each of twenty slides. Still, I didn’t know exactly what to expect. I had never been inside the West Jackson Workshop. I wondered what the demographic would be, given that I had not run into any publicity about the event. How many people would attend presentations on a Friday night?

Sarah Bush discussed yard-gardens

Apparently I wasn’t the only one who had little idea of what to expect. The organizers set up chairs for about fifty to seventy-five people. Standing room could comfortably accommodate a comparable number of people. My guess is twice that many – about three hundred – showed up. Madeline Rogero, who seems to be popping up everywhere I go, was there and fortunately, the Fire Marshall was not. The crowed, which trended young, continued to grow well after the presentations started. Despite the larger than expected crowds, or maybe partially because of the buzz that comes with a more than capacity group, the event was  a great success.

Ryann Aoukar presents amazing designs

The amazing range of creative projects discussed displayed beautifully the incredible creative community thriving in Knoxville. Sarah Bush discussed yard-gardens and showed photographs of a recent project in which the entire yard of a home was converted into a vegetable garden, along with tall flowers to border the street and herbs to attract the right kind of insects to fight the wrong kind of insects, if I understood it correctly.

Joshua and Jessica Wright read Haiku about CoolCorc

Understanding correctly was a bit of an issue all night. For some, hearing what was said had to be difficult. There was no amplification available for the presenters. I was close enough (old people tend to be more punctual than the younger set if this night was any indication), but the slides and discussion moved so quickly and often centered on topics about which I have little or no knowledge, which made catching everything almost impossible.

Julianne Applegate discusses design of her handbags at JulieApple

Ryann Aoukar, a French-Canadian who somehow landed in Knoxville displayed his amazing interior and product designs. Matt Hall also talked about his designs, which included, notably, an aluminum guitar. Haley Chapman talked about her journey into extreme cake making for her company, HaleyCakes. She also has an architecture background, which she brings to her cake creations. Joshua and Jessica Wright discussed their company CoolCorc which produces a wide range of products from cork including everything from cup sleeves to purses. Their entire presentation was delivered in Haiku.

Katherine Campbell discusses the activities at Birdhouse

Julianne Applegate talked about how she develops ideas for designs for her purses which she sells at JulieApple on the 100 block of Gay Street. Katherine Campbell explained the many functions of the Birdhouse located in the 4th and Gill neighborhood. There you find activism, philanthropy, arts, crafts and everything in between.

Daniel Schuh presents his amazing array of projects.

One of the presenters who really captured my attention by the incredible span of the projects he pursues, was Daniel Schuh. His company Knoxville Preservation and Development primarily restores old homes and buildings to their previous beauty and function, carefully preserving their unique histories. Along the way, however, he has also become landlord to businesses which inhabit some of his buildings, such as the one on North Central that includes Vegarama and the Relix Theater. Rather than renting the theater to someone, he manages it himself. He is also pursuing development of a rail-line for the southern Appalachian region, complete with networking with national government, railroad and municipal entities. I could not comprehend how one person could do a quarter of what he does. I talked to him during the break and he unraveled an extensive tale of intrigue involving Nixon, national railroads and Amtrack. If I disclosed the details I would have to kill you.

Preston Farabow, PechaKucha, West Jackson Workshop, Knoxville, February 2011

Preston Farabow discussed his company, Aespyre, and the designs and philosophy behind it, which included finding the history of an object and bringing it forward into it’s future. It was Chris McAdoo of 2313 Creative who stole the night. Presenting more like a slam poet than a design artist, backed by pictures of Johnny Cash, John Prine and Tom Waits, he flew through an onslaught of verbiage about design, family and art. I caught about 25 percent of what he said, but he said it so impressively he brought the house down.

Chris McAdoo captivates the audience with his slam design presentation

This is intended to be the first of many such events, including at least three more between now and the end of 2011. Watch this website for more information. I’ll try to mention it in advance on this blog. It’s great fun and you don’t want to miss it.

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