Visitors to the Viking Union Gallery at Western Washington University are greeted with a dazzling display of 10,000 black and pink straws creating a geometric mural that will make your head spin.

The person behind the project is Matthew Parker — graphic designer and tactile designer of props, interiors and photo booths. He often uses paper or everyday objects to transform spaces completely. Some of his most eye-catching work includes the paper airplanes at the EMP or one of his many pin-worthy weddings.

I learned about Matthew when shooting John SanGiovanni of Zumobi for Geek of the Week.  I was inspired by Zumobi’s modern mural, plant boxes, and a clever break room lined with different sized mailing tubes — another of Matthew’s projects. I’ve visited quite a few offices over the last year shooting professionals for GeekWire and Zumobi was one of the most visually exciting and tasteful spaces I’ve seen in Seattle.

We may be known for our startup culture, but our work environments could use some spice. I decided to track down the man behind the office style and found a passionate, bow-tie-wearing, creative guru who can juggle.


Who: Matthew Parker of Matthew Parker Events

The Project: Dazzle Camouflage (10,000 Straws)

How he did it: Matthew’s most recent project involves 10,000 black and pink straws and the helping hands of students at Western Washington. Matthew was intrigued by the intersecting geometric patterns on the popular military
dazzle camouflage ships used in World War I. He used this as a reference when creating the design in Illustrator.

He then drew the design out on foam core and labeled the color and the direction of the straws.

Half a dozen students helped him assemble the installation, which proved to be a labor of love. On big projects like this, there will always be good and bad surprises.

Good Surprise: Matthew discovered the frayed look of the straws was a lot more interesting than cutting them perfectly at the edge of the foam core.

Bad Surprise: After the first day of gluing, he came back to find that most of the straws had popped off after the material had warped slightly overnight when drying.  Matthew was able to find sturdier glue and rallied the students, transforming the gallery in under a weekend. It might be hard to blend in with this mural, but it sure is remarkable.

Photos of the gallery courtesy of Matthew Parker. Story and photography by Annie Laurie MalarkeySee this site for more of her work. Do you have a cool project or creation you’d like to share with the GeekWire community? Please email about being featured in Geek Made. You can also find her on twitter @annieandacamera and on instagram @annielaurie

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