Laura Allcorn

creative director + comedic institute founder

I'm laura.


By day, I play associate creative director at second story.

I set the artistic vision for exhibitions and interactive installations.

I begin the design process by focusing on the visitor. How will someone identify with the ideas and stories being expressed? How will it make them feel? Once I’ve mapped a path of connection for each type of visitor, I create experiences that invite participation. From paper to projectors, I use any medium necessary to bring each experience to life. 

recent projects include:

Thomas Cole Historic Site: The Parlors; California State Parks: United States Immigration Station Hospital Exhibition; Design Week Portland: Lovejoy Fountain Activation; AIGA: 100 Years of DesignMuseum of Fine Arts Boston: Triumph of the Winter Queen


By Night, i lead the institute for comedic inquiry.

IFCI is a comedian-led research group that studies humor and conducts laugh-inducing experiments. We create interactive objects and performances that point out absurdities through a technique we call Participatory Satire. These public experiments combine humor, design, technology, and of course, humans.

We’ve made a syntHAsizer that lets people remix their fake laugh to a ‘real’ one. We’ve made fashionable pollination accessories, turning people into honeybees to draw attention to colony collapse. We’ve even convinced people to power walk through a mall in pantsuits to drum up support for Hillary. 

recent experiments include:

hümr, syntHAsizer, The Reactionizer, Insecurities Security Screening, Quantified Laugh Tear Self, Pantsuit Power Walk for Hillary, Portland Laugh LineThe Human Pollination Project

experiments have been shown at: 

Science Gallery in Dublin; CCCB in Barcelona; ArtScience Museum in Singapore; Palazzo delle Esposizioni in Rome; Risk/Reward Pavement Festival in Portland; Design Week Portland, Bridgetown Comedy Festival; Portland Fashion Week; and featured in Wired UK, The Guardian, GOOD, Dwell, and Design Bureau Magazine.


Lately, i've been thinking about...

How feelings change people, not facts; it's kindness that brings people’s 'porcupine needles' down. How artistic activism can make the intangible, tangible—case in point this Gerrymandering 5K. Sticking it to our Twitter-fueled reactionary culture and making it okay to say ‘I don’t know what I think about that yet.’ Remembering that talking about your ideas makes them stronger.


On view

On View

hümr: from haha to hand holding at Science Gallery Dublin
INTIMACY: October-February 2019


The Human Pollination Project at V&A
FOOD: Bigger than the Plate: May 2019

recently on View

Insecurities Security Checkpoint
Risk/Reward's Pavement Festival: August 2018

The Reactionizer at From A Whisper To Machines Design Week Portland: April 2018

syntHAsizer at Science Gallery Dublin
FAKE: March-June 2018

The Human Pollination Project at Pallazo delle Espozioni
HUMAN+: March-June 2018



I’m teaching the following workshops in Spring 19’. Classes are open to all.

Design Like A Comedian
Illuminating Absurdities with Critical Design
Performing Interaction Design
Staging Participatory Satire



Instrument LEcture Series

Lecture on laughter and machine learning
December 2018

Design Week Portland 18'

From a Whisper to Machines; lecture on laughter and the syntHAsizer
April 2018

near fm Interview

I talk about the syntHAsizer, FAKE exhibition at Science Gallery, and The Institute For Comedic Inquiry with Norma Burke.
Aired on March 8th 2018

MuseumNext Portland 17'

Project Showcase
October 2017

Association for State + Local History

Pay Attention, Connect, Participate: The Magic of Experience
September 2017

Design Week Portland 17'

Periphery Panel Discussion
April 2017



pacific northwest college of art

M.F.A. Applied Craft + Design  
Graduated May 2011  

Mount union College

B.F.A. Business Administration, Marketing
Graduated May 2005

center for artistic activism

Arts Action Academy at Queens Museum
Graduated November 2017

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