SFU students create winning design for the Powell Street Festival


A group of art students at Simon Fraser University have won the Powell Street Festival’s 3rd annual design competition.

Jana Ghimire, Phoebe Huang, Haylee Marx, Elisha Wang, and Carmen Wong’s karakasa-obake installation will be unveiled at this year’s festival.

The students received a $1,000 prize, a production budget plus a mentorship from Revery Architecture and Abaton Projects.

The karakasa-obake (umbrella ghost) is a figure in Japanese folklore generally depicted as an umbrella with one eye and one leg. The concept incorporates tsukumogami, a word used to describe objects and tools that develop spirits after being used for hundreds of years.

The design also references the practice of using recycled materials during the internment of Japanese Canadians to create wagasa — a traditional paper umbrella, according to a release.

Photo of the design team from SFU Photo Owen Cameron

The jury included landscape architect Hanako Amaya of Hapa Collaborative, Tania Williard, an indigenous curator and artist from the Secwepemc nation; PSFS artistic director Leanne Dunic, Shinobu Homma of Revery Architecture and Gary Smith of Abaton Projects.

“We value the humorous aspect of this proposal, the jury stated.”The concept also spans time, reaching back hundreds of years and referencing both Japanese Canadian internment and contemporary anime and gaming culture.”

The Powell Street Festival design competition is a partnership between PSFS, Revery Architecture and Abaton Projects with financial support from Hapa Collaborative, PFS Studio, Entuitive, Revery Architecture and private donors.

“We are super grateful for the opportunity to work with the Powell Street Festival, Revery Architecture, and Abaton Projects, and to engage with the community to make this project a reality. We put a lot of research into our concept and we can’t wait to share it with everyone,” says Haylee Marx.

The karakasa-obake will be unveiled at the festival’s opening ceremony in Oppenheimer Park at 11:30 a.m. on Saturday, August 4, 2018.