[Update March 11, 2017]
‘N’ is Design Kompany’s most intriguing project to date.
It is a way for us to discover and convene exactly 16 people in a city, just once. People who choose to say ‘yes’ and show up. People whom we find through a variety of channels. People we have never met, and some whom we haven’t seen for decades. The project is about discovering what would happen, what we might learn, if we could all meet together, exactly once. Could there be synergy? Intriguing dialogue? Could we design a space that would make the magic of human interaction the shining star? Instead of overdesigning an event and trying to pitch it to a zillion people, what if, instead, we designed a space that would invite a certain kind of person, a person who is open, curious, ready and engaged, who is intrigued enough to take a chance on something as weird and abstract as something called ’16N?’ Not for everyone, right? (Do you know how many people I’ve invited so far? And how many have said ‘no?’ Read the current figure here.)
The ‘N’ project gathers 16 new and different others exactly once in each of 16 cities. Three so far. Each of these sixteen instances is a unique moment; a framed moment in which something curious could take shape. Who will come? What will happen? What might change as a result of going, of seeing something different, of discovering the things that will come up when we make time and commit to just going, just being there, without a formal plan or agenda?
Imagine 16 people whose paths have never crossed, meeting just once.
I’m a designer, so I have to make a schematic drawing:
I’m also a math nerd, so I have to talk about vectors. That instance of intersecting vectors (16 of them), that moment, that is a point. A point is onceness, in a tangible spatial representation. Bear with me. I know this is heady. But yeah. Imagine it. Picture it. Sixteen people meeting just once in their city. What might happen? I love that. The urgency of now. And this is the ‘onceness’ instance we call ‘N’. Making space for ‘N’ moments to happen is the reason we are going around the world hosting ‘N’. No one is sponsoring this. There are no outcomes to share. There will be no donors, no advertisers, none of that. Guests contribute towards tickets, that’s it. But who cares about monetary stuff. Let’s find a way to be interesting. Yes? Let’s make it more interesting. Let’s host each ‘N’ in a venue that starts with an ‘N’. Let’s enjoy a theme, too, and for each city pick a new one, a theme that will start with an ‘N.’ And just to be even more arbitrary rule-y about this, let’s do ‘N’ events only in cities that have an ‘N’ in their name. Constraints, right? Don’t designers love playing with the room you get, which can be so expansive, within the bounded box?
SO FAR, ‘N’ has happened in Phnom Penh, Bangkok, and London. This is the project website. What happened so far? Who came? Are you wondering? Well, there is nothing to examine. Because the whole thing about ‘N’ is that it’s about who comes and what happens in that exact moment. To write about it afterwards from my own perspective wouldn’t be interesting, and it’s too hard to get 16 people to contribute to a writeup. (I’ve tried). So we are leaving it quietly mysterious, and that’s just fine. Each person who has joined ‘N’, that means committed, gotten a ticket, helped choose the date, and arrived on the day, each guest that completed the ‘N’ journey was asked to select a unique color from the 256-block color grid pictured above. So that means, by the time this project is finished, we’ll have a person connected to each color. What we look like, how we sound, what we think about, what we choose to identify with… these usual ways we define ourselves gets thrown out. And we become, in the short space of ‘N’, a box of color. More about ‘N’ and the story so far is at this page.
Want to know more?
Click the ‘N’…