Originally designed as a fun and informal way for architects to share their work, the PechaKucha presentation format was created in Tokyo in 2003 by Astrid Klein and Mark Dytham and has since expanded to 900 cities, where every event is volunteer-run. Vancouver’s iteration of the series started in 2008 and was hosted and produced by the local design firm Cause + Affect until last fall, when Chan, a multi-disciplinary designer and former Cause + Affect design associate, took the helm.
PechaKucha events owe much of their charm to the format Klein and Dytham designed. It’s simple: twenty slides appear for twenty seconds each, giving each presenter just under seven minutes of stage time. The slides progress automatically, which can leave presenters struggling to keep up. “No matter how much a presenter practices, the speed feels different on stage,” Chan says. She credits the format with helping—or forcing—presenters to loosen up. “You feel like you’re getting to know the person,” she says, “instead of going to see a rehearsed presentation.”
Chan sees PechaKucha Night Vancouver as a social, community-minded event that offers presenters a platform and audiences inspiration. One of the ventures she’s excited about right now is the Binners’ Project. “They developed a product that makes it easier for people to leave their empty bottles out and for binners to know when to pick bottles up and where; that’s something I want more people to know about,” Chan says, and notes that it’s usually something unexpected or underexposed that appeals to her when she’s putting together a presenter lineup. She’s wary of anyone who approaches the event primarily as a tool for self-promotion and explains that “people want to know why presenters spend so much time on their projects, not how great their product is.”
Recent volumes of PechaKucha Night Vancouver were hosted at The Vogue, but Chan opted to move to the Granville Island Stage for the May 12th event. Experimenting with a new venue is one way Chan is trying to continue the presentations' energy after the event. She hopes the smaller, more intimate space will encourage people to stick around after the show to chat and meet the presenters. PechaKucha Night Vancouver tickets often sell out and Chan doesn’t want anyone to miss out, so video of the event will be posted online. As Chan puts it, “this is an event for anybody who’s interested in it.”
Editor’s Note: The May 12th PechaKucha Night Vancouver sold out quickly. You can check out the video archives of past events here or sign up for the new PechaKucha Night Vancouver newsletter to stay in the loop about tickets for future events and the new PechaKucha Night Vancouver Vimeo channel, where video of the May 12th event will be posted.