Making a thing better

GREETINGS. I’m in the middle of a massive decluttering exploration. Unlike the times when I moved house (six times in Phnom Penh alone, over five years), this time, it’s digital. Well, it’s not just clearing out files and getting rid of the reels and reels of dead, boring pix. It’s about also clarifying the concept for our new directions in 2019. In several spots: at this website; in the real life spaces that the website invites some of us to join in conversation salons for (magic thing that internet can be!); and in the zines we make with the people we are meeting. Together.

S P A C E | ‘Blank Sky’, Finland 2018

But it’s more about the conversation and curation. It’s got bigger dimensions than just the papers that we make. It’s uniquely DK’s because it’s a particular style and approach, and also a mode of hosting, that invites warmth and welcome, we feel, and we are getting a tighter grip on how to do that. What it looks like. Feels like. Lives into, and becomes. All very heady and stuff, I know, but that might be because we’ve only just begun. Gestational stuff is like that. It feels like that: you have the thing there, and then, boom. It’s starting to develop. Nature.

Magic moments by design

LIKE ALL DESIGNERS, we love it when S P A C E gets made properly. The kind that I most love looks kinda like this.

But it’s not just ‘ooo, nice party, thanks DK!’ Our events are much more than just ‘see if I feel like stopping by,’ kinds of things. You have to be invited. Really.

S P A C E is designed. The design of it leads to what we hope becomes a ‘magic moment.’

Like physically moving around the city of Phnom Penh, you don’t ever know exactly what you’re going to get when you show up with your boxes. But you do know it’s a change. And also, that you have less stuff. You keep what works, you somehow let go of what doesn’t quite ‘fit’ anymore. In this way, DK’s Phnom Penh HQ has managed to go from 7 suitcases to just 3. Three small ones, mind. There was the new one that a wheel popped off on a stairwell somewhere between KL airport, a bus I got off too soon, that station, and an escalator, some other stairs, more movement, and the thing that did it: gravelly under-construction ‘sidewalk.’ Lost a wheel. Suitcase: replaced. With a smaller one.

 

Packing and unpacking

PARING THINGS down can only work, however, when you know what your concept is. Design concept. Life concept. What to keep? What to let go? Whom to invite to the next year of your life, to keep connected with, and whom to be okay with moving apart from? We go through these thoughts without really articulating them, and when you’re the kind of person that moves as much as I do, you sort of overdevelop a sense of ‘time to go.’ I know when we left Seattle it was that clip from the cinema film Chocolat that people remembered, from the blog post of that year (2009: the year of letting go of Seattle. And later, 2013: the year of leaving behind Raleigh-Durham). When will it be time to say ‘bye’ to Phnom Penh? Who knows. It’s not about dates: it’s about waiting until the concept emerges. Then you have it. Then you know. Where to go. How to go. ‘When’ is just a question of booking flights, and special rates, and dealing with things like having to renew your passport at the last minute because you don’t have enough blank pages in it for the full-page visa you’ll need in PP. Um. Well, I did get passport pix yesterday, so. Halfway prepared for the new book I have to make. It’s weird. I wanted to talk about my passport for like four hours yesterday. Just joking. Only two. ‘Nice, but, you know. The stamps really only matter to you, kinda, DK. You can reminisce about it because every single one tells you a story, but um. It’s not that interesting, to me, I mean. It’s nice that you want to share, but, ahh.’ ‘Oh, sorry, sorry. I’ll put it away.’

 

Change is the only constant

RIGHT. Let me wrap it up. The big learning for me personally at DK has been how to let go of the expectations I’ve had on myself to keep the things that I’ve kept and force them, somehow, to stay relevant. I’m talking about old shoes with holes in them that I got in Vietnam. SY remembers those. SY in PP, ‘Are those the shoes you got in Vietnam when we were hanging out?’ ‘Yes.’ Or the dresses that are mostly falling apart. Or the notebooks: so many. What’s in them? Even I can’t decipher my handwriting, now. No wonder MM couldn’t read the pencil and cursive. I was weirder then: I was less clear. It has been a journey for me, Finland helped tremendously… all that open space… to let go of the idea that you have to let go. Evolution, change, making things better… these things are natural processes. But it’s time. To make the next move. It feels great to launch S P A C E. Thanks to those who’ve joined us there, I was really excited to share out with that set of people yesterday ‘The Book of Slow Moment,’ this time, in color.

What’s next?

More clarifying. More readying for the things ahead. More listening to the team that we have here at DK, now. A great group of smart, creative people who are asking big questions and now, more than ever, collaborating in that way that feels the most extravagant. The kind where you can just press ‘play’. And let it flow.

This week, we launched the ‘A Philosophy of the Moment.’ Our Winter 2018-19 schedule of weekly couture zines.