Toe selfies

‘EVERYTHING. Like crossed feet at the beach or in front of the pool going on instagram. Those.’

‘Barefoot.’

Today I Love You // By Dipika Kohli 2012
Today I Love You // Dipika Kohli 2012

‘I WANT TO CALL THE NEW SERIES, [deleted].’

‘Oh, well, that’s a bit better. But you can’t call it the other thing.’

‘What other thing?’

‘Didn’t you say lifestyle design, earlier? I mean, you can’t do that, no way, not now. Two years ago, maybe. Because today, it doesn’t mean what you think it means.’

‘Huh?’

‘I just mean, to you and me, design is about how to make our life better, how to create the life we really want by looking for opportunities and, ideally, creating value for other people so we can make a life doing what we’re good at and what we’re getting better at as a—‘

‘Like that Warren Buffet thing?’

‘Yeah, yeah. Anyway, to you and me design means one thing. It’s about the way we think about how to create the life we really want. Once we examine, that is, what it is we care about. Remember how you did that event, Big D Design?’

‘And no one came, except Sipheng Lim. That was cool. What’s he doing now, anyway? I haven’t seen him around.’

‘He’s making films. You haven’t been around. Are you listening?’

‘Hm. Uh-huh.’

‘Yeah, but it was just too big a concept, you know? Design is, to most people, about photoshop.’

*Slumps*

‘So you can’t say that. Lifestyle design, I mean, you can’t say that.’

‘But that’s what it is.’

‘But that’s not what it means anymore.’

‘Whaddyou mean?’

‘I mean, it’s been co-opted. The word lifestyle design doesn’t mean using design principles as a tool to make your life better.’

‘It means pictures on the beach of people’s feet.’

‘Feet pictures. Yeah, those.’ *Shrugs* ‘I guess people like taking those now. It’s not my thing, but you know. Feet.’

‘Toes. Toe selfies.’

‘Okay, okay. What if I just call it, SIMPLICITY. Set it up for early March?’

*Groans*

‘Too esoteric?’

‘Just, yeah. And you’re always wanting to just press go on everything so quickly. Oh, well. It’s you, I guess. So do it, try it. Gotta say, you seem to have a knack for this sort of thing, sometimes.’

‘What sort of thing?’

‘Seeing what people really want to talk about.’

Sometimes. But I have a good feeling about this one.’

*Looks dubious*

‘Simplicity. Simplicate and add lightness and stuff. Design-y, but not overstated. Overstating is such bollix. Leave it open, so people who come can help design it, you know? Open it up. Eco and stuff. Open works.’

‘I never could finish a page of Eco.’

‘That was a good idea, though. Co-creating. It’s just not hot right now. It’s not a popular way of doing stuff because people are obsessed with me-ism.’

‘Who-ism?’

‘Everything. Like crossed feet at the beach or in front of the pool going on instagram. Those.’

‘Barefoot.’

‘Yeah.’

‘Toe selfies.’

‘I wonder what people would think about those.’

‘Ask.’

The Book of Songs #5: ‘Open Heart’

‘STARTING TO START?’

‘Yes, how?’

ANTHOLOGY. The Mirror, 2014
ANTHOLOGY. The Mirror, 2014

THIS is the cover. The cover always is the last part, in the book-making process here at DK.

The reason is you just don’t know until the very end what might become, what is going to become and how it becomes is the work of the creative process. You have to start somewhere, for sure, but where and how to begin the compositions… that is the question for physics experiment designers as well as those standing and looking, at the canvas, whole.

There comes a time when you write and you collage and you find out that something exists that isn’t even in the words or the image. It is the intention. And when that intention came out in such a way that it was 10 people’s shared work, the work of looking deeply, within, well, wow, we had magic. Even though I’ve never met some of the contributors to The Mirror 2014, there are the connections that were built from correspondence and more than that, attention. Because attention is the highest currency now, isn’t it?

Readying to open THE MIRROR 2016A new volume is poised to be co-created.

I don’t have any idea, right now from this vantage, what the new collection will look like. Who’ll be part of it, what stories will be loosed? What will be the cover, what will be that new collection’s title, look & feel, and list of contributors and their stories’ names? It is a mystery, this. But the invitation is the first part. Setting the stage comes next. These things I learned from a different kind of artist—the musicians.

Playing pen, playing line, playing words, or playing notes. The compositions flourish most brilliantly, don’t they?, when they start from… what…?

‘Starting to start?’

‘Yes, how?’

‘Simple: it’s this. An open heart.’

‘Trust the process?’

‘Trust the process. Of… becoming.’

More like this

READ posts on DK’s new collection, Book of Songs >

The book of songs #2: ‘Gentle hand’

THE BOOK OF SONGS, meanwhile, is coming together as a collection. It’s going to be a modest size but an honest gathering of notes, stories, poetry, and artwork from this time here in Scandinavia. Inspired by the music, art, and maybe even the food here where I am. So that would be… six weeks, I think, if I can hold through December.

imageIT IS 4 DEGREES. Celsius. I can’t remember the last time I had this many layers of shirts (5) and socks (2). Maybe it was when I was a kid in Michigan, bundled into snow boots and a big blue coat I still remember the smell of. Musty, but somehow solidly that of winter. A briskness of cold, an ice-tinged cold that’s unforgiving, and mocks the ego of a floral spring, who has sung her medley too long ago now for us to recall it fully. Somewhere in the eaves and folds within folds, there it is, the echo, but now just a bitten, mitten memory, of something felt, once, yes, it had been, but now the exact shape and color of it is too easily forgotten.

Coordinates (0,0,0)

NIGHT IS ALREADY HERE, almost. I can feel it. It is 3:43PM here, or as they would say, 15:43 (such economy!). Let me now discover where there might be somewhere to do some more laundry. And put away these eggs. One of them broke on impact with a sleet sidewalk, waiting for the bus, which brought me to a station, which brought me somewhere else, and so on, to here.

The ‘Book of Songs (USD $15, limited edition),’ meanwhile, is coming together as a collection. It’s going to be a modest size but an honest gathering of notes, stories, poetry, and artwork from this block of time here in Scandinavia. So that would be… six weeks, I think, if I can hold through December.

Winter is what I came to see, I guess. I suppose that the chill without only makes it much clearer that there is, and greatly, a giant swarm of warmth, within. Maybe in that inner someplace, there will be a gem, a nugget, of poetic form that gives the Book of Songs what she hasn’t been aware that she’s been looking for. —DK

S. P. A. C. E: ‘A last long look, from the far harbor’

TODAY I AM WRITING FROM SWEDEN. Tomorrow I will go to Denmark. It feels very strange Writing these Words from a computer that has a keyboard setup for SV. There are some intriguing characters that come up, like ö and Ö and when you see them here, you are moved, because the unexpected rises and makes you say, äHuh.ä

TODAY I AM WRITING FROM SWEDEN. Snow and rain. Tomorrow I will go to Denmark. It feels very strange Writing these Words from a computer that has a keyboard setup for SV. There are some intriguing characters that come up, like ö and Ö and when you see them here, you are moved, because the unexpected rises and makes you say, äHuh.ä

In fact it is in search of the unexpected that most of this adventuring has been exactly for. I know that sounds weird, perhaps it is to most. But to some it will make perfect sense. There was that letter to Eric Kensington that T. E. Lawrence wrote, for example, something that I will be sharing about this Friday in Copenhagen at DRIFT & THE NOMAD.

Meanwhile there is really a lot to say about how we stop to look at what we are doing, when we are at moments between things, between spaces. The interstitial, the philosophical, the long last look before we pack and move to wherever it is… the Next Place.

From one hamn (Swedish for ‘harbor’) to the next havn (as in ‘København’). Let it begin… Again. Anew.—DK

‘N’ Copenhagen: A conversation about NEARNESS

‘N’ IS A CONVERSATION installation in which 16 people whose paths never would have cross will meet ONCE. It’s an international series, and in each city (which will necessarily contain an ‘N’), we have a theme that starts with ‘N’. The theme for ‘N’ Copenhagen is NEARNESS.

'N' Copenhagen ticket
‘N’ Copenhagen ticket
‘N’ IS A CONVERSATION installation in which 16 people whose paths never would have crossed will meet ONCE. It’s an international series, and in each city (which will necessarily contain an ‘N’), we have a theme that starts with ‘N’. The theme for ‘N’ Copenhagen is NEARNESS.

At the time of this writing, DK has delivered three of the 16 tickets to guests for ‘N’ Copenhagen: NEARNESS. It is an evolving and intricately woven story, one that is invitation-only and designed specifically to bring us together in a conversation space that will invite, surprisingly, deep connection in a short burst of time with relatively unknown people. I know, it sounds crazy. But so far ‘N’ has happened in Phnom Penh (NORMALITY) and Bangkok (NOW), and more is on the way.

Curious to read more? Interested in finding out how to request an invitation? Find out more at this overview page or this link for updates about ‘N’ Copenhagen >

A letter to JB in London

Photo by DK 2015SOMETHING I FORGOT to ask you.

Photo by DK 2015
Photo by DK 2015

Published in S. P. A. C. E.
Get new confessions every week in DK’s eZine S. P. A. C .E.

Dear J.,

Hello there!

Um. What is your email address?

This is what happened. I got your message. Thank you for reading all those pages, and for writing to me about ‘N’.

Everything was great except—I noticed I couldn’t just hit ‘reply.’

Somehow, when I created that form, the field for ‘Email address?’ got lost (maybe forgot, ’cause I’d thought it was cool to put ‘Your city?’ since you know, ‘N’ is moving around and stuff. Except it’s really not moving around that much. It’s moving a little.) Surely it would have been FAR more important for me to ask you for your email address instead.

So yeah. Would you mind resending? The form now has that field. I fixed it. And yes!, I am listening, I noted your note, and I would love to respond by email, can you email through that form once again?

Thank you!!!

I hope you see this!

Much appreciated. 🙂

DK
PS Last time I wrote an open letter like this, it was to my father—who had a birthday; we are sort of estranged, so it felt odd writing into the aether the way I’m doing here. But somehow, the endpoints connected up. Maybe it’s normal to be looking for connections; we are, after all, human. The more I think and talk to people about ‘N’, the more I realize that it’s a project designed specifically to help us connect in real life, human to human, because we are fragile and beautiful in our vulnerability… Something like this, I think, I think. To be continued.

Published in S. P. A. C. E.

Get new confessions every week in DK’s eZine S. P. A. C .E.

What is NOW? by ‘N’ Bangkok

FB_IMG_1444538773539‘NOW’ IS AS EPHEMERAL AS EVER. Am I doing what is important to me, making the most it? Can I at least help someone else to answer ‘yes’ to that question? And would it be okay to just relish in not being exhausted for a moment, now?

Editor’s note: This is a joint essay by guests who had attended ‘N’ in Bangkok in October, 2015. Images and words came from them, in response to our theme, ‘What is NOW?’

BUDDHISM AND CONSUMERISM are both trendy right now, if you really stop and think about it. But they also go against the idea of the ‘now.’ Some say one’s cool and the other’s nuts. But now can you be both, at the same time?

NOW: the idealist keyword for change and peace, but what is NOW for the capitalist? ‘How do we benefit now?’  The soldier asks: ‘how do I survive now?’ And if a meteor hits earth, NOW is gone. Poof, just like that. So what is now is simply none other than a belief in which one places weight, and  considers, earnestly, to be truthful. Or?

NOW: accepting ‘that in which it is,’ and doing one’s best to balance the equilibrium.

There are so many kinds of weights pulling and shifting, in flux, constantly—but what is alive and felt, and perceived in the moment, what is heard—like that thing about the tree that falls in a wood without people around to hear, would it make a sound? Like that. What is going on, just immediately, in this NOW?

 

*

 

I THINK TIME is like a big rain cloud with infinite drops. The nowness is when it rains

the drops of time and we are aware of it. If we’re not aware that the time is falling, it is

impossible to catch up with time, and then there’ll be no concept of ‘now’ at all.

Everything will end up on the ground, in the past. All we’ll have then are documents, like snaps. Speaking of which, what is a photograph? Is it really a piece of frozen time? A preserved form of ‘here and now’? Or just the past haunting us? Coded, strange.

banana banana banana banana banana banana banana banana banana banana banana banana banana banana banana banana banana banana banana banana banana banana banana banana banana banana banana jackfruit banana banana banana banana banana banana banana banana banana banana banana banana banana banana banana banana banana banana banana banana banana banana

 

*

 

WHAT IF ‘NOW’ equals ‘happiness.’ Paying attention to your life, the creaks and groans of your own body, the taste of passionfruit, the sound of your son watching YouTube in the bedroom. A deep breath. You are alive. And this moment is all we have. Let it wash over you.

Is arriving at that awareness a kind of, what do they call it… enlightenment? Perhaps that’s too esoteric. But, is that it? The noticing of NOW, the framing of the urgency of the moment, is that what we’re here to achieve? I confess I’m not sure.

[Gosh, it’s cold in here with the aircon on full blast. Very annoyingly, some keys on my laptop have been broken by our kids, so sorry I went over the word limit. Maybe it’s because I am a bit hung over. Can’t think. :)… ]

 

*

 

STRIKES ME THAT ‘Now’ is the realm of feelings, where ‘Past’ is the realm of the facts, and ‘Future,’ of imaginations. No wonder I have a hard time living the now—being distracted by the future and the past can be an addictive, escapist habit.

Wait, what was the question? Constraining to 50 words is a good thinking exercise. I did a few of them. I guess I’ll go with the ‘abstract and asking existential questions’ one:

‘Now’ is as ephemeral as ever.

Am I doing what is important to me, making the most it?

Can I at least help someone else to answer ‘yes’ to that question?

And would it be okay to just relish in not being exhausted for a moment, now?

Questions, questions.

But also, a poem. Untitled, as of yet, but I might call it ‘is-ness.’

Now I am
Now I know, now I sense and feel
Yesterday I was
And yesterday is over for now
Tomorrow I will be
Tomorrow I don’t know
So I hold onto this moment of today
Opening myself up to the experiences of this day
To the awakening of my senses
And to the energies… of today
Of now … just as it is
Breathing in and out this is-ness

Know what? On my 30th birthday, I gave myself the below lessons:

  • live with consciousness
  • live for yourself and worry less
  • help others as much as you can
  • avoid what hurts you
  • live to work, not work to live
  • don’t waste too much time on negative people
  • ‘no’ is a complete sentence
  • life is too short to wait, if you want to do anything, do it ‘now’.

THAT’S THE REPORT I’ve got for you. For now.

Next stop, London. Or Copenhagen. Or Hanoi. Depending on the people, and the dates that the guests of each will choose together. Let’s see what happens?

—N

 

An evening of jazz and conversation this Friday in Bangkok

This Friday, DK and jazZ happens! present 'The Book of Blue'THIS FRIDAY, Design Kompany and jazZ happens! present ‘The Book of Blue,’ a once-off evening of jazz, collage, and conversation

JAZZ, COLLAGE AND CONVERSATION have something in common. You experiment, you play, and when you ‘hit’ the right idea, you go with it. When things go well, there’s high-quality communication. Flow.

This Friday, Design Kompany and jazZ happens! present ‘The Book of Blue,’ a once-off evening of jazz, collage, and conversation inspired by the color blue.

THE BOOK OF BLUE
Friday, October 16
jazZ happens!
7-9PM

Related: Facebook event page >

Tea and sunset

SO AND I HAVE the same language, and even the same cultural references, being compatriots (in a benign way), so it was easier to get a little more deep into the texture and complexity of things that one who is a stranger might say to another one who is also a stranger.

POETRY IS ARRIVING. Pictures of Bangkok. Stories in short, short blurbs. I’ve asked guests of ‘N’ Bangkok to send me something ahead of time, so we can create a joint composition.

Something cool is happening—people are writing, thinking, sharing, and in a sort of intriguing way, we are already starting our conversation installation ‘N’. Our theme for ‘N’ Bangkok, which is imminent, is NOW.

Diary of a Bangkok conversation-seeking traveler

YESTERDAY WAS a really different sort of day than the one I told you about with the BTS sign language and tarot stuff. Yesterday was slow and reflective.

3N by DK
3N by DK

The highlight was a little tea place that seemed like exactly the sort of spot to cozy up and become slow and reflective. It’s called Peace Cafe, the Japanese symbol 和. Cool little touches like having a decal on one glass wall on the staircase that makes a shadow. All Tadao Ando-ey but without the concrete. Second floor is a reading room, and that’s where I bumped into SO.

Earlier in the day I’d met someone over breakfast at my business-traveler-friendly hotel, just briefly, a 60-year old Japanese salaryman who confessed he’s dreading the day of his teinentaishoku, or forced retirement, which is imminent. We got chatting away about this and how he feels and he asked me what was I doing. I said, ‘意味のあるものを探しています。’ And he said, with zenzen no judgement, ‘深いね。’ And there was a long, long Japanese sort of pause in which each person retreats into their innermost reflective spaces. So going to another place, after, that’s a Japanese sort of pause-forming space made perfect sense. (I will skip my bad experience at the Aussie-run overly hipster cafe that has a Scandinavian interior, a Japanese name that has nothing to do with anything, and music that makes you want to run into the woods and wail to the moon, because design is sort of sacred, and you really really wanted to like this place because someone had a good eye, but!, but—conceptually it was all over the place. The equivalent of ‘fashion road kill.’)

SO and I have the same language, and even the same cultural references, being compatriots (in a benign way), so it was easier to get a little more deep into the texture and complexity of things that one who is a stranger might say to another one who is also a stranger. I think this conversation that took me through a lot of trails and discoveries and ‘a-ha’ moments that someone who is more evolved than I am in terms of learning how to listen and be compassionate and stuff. I couldn’t have been more lucky to run into just this person in this space at this moment. After our talks—which I still need to process some more, because they entered that ethereal and ephemeral and philosophical space that leads you to things, though only Rilke would be able to describe it beautifully and soundly in some sort of language, and one would only wish one could get a sense of a tenth of that sort of sentience.  We talked so much I forgot to order tea. So today, I’m at a little mall-ified version of the one spot I discovered yesterday. (I’m at Siam Square looking consumerism on full-square—plush and decorative buy-me stuff that is Society of the Spectacle stuff, a lie that material makes you cool, that chases us apart, manipulates, and shuns the better thing: which is free (high-quality time, together). But, no. It’s: ‘Smile for the selfie!’)

Before this gets too long-winded, and I share about the hotel employee at this rooftoppy place whom I kinda asked too many personal questions of, and what happened, or the young people I met at a ‘bar’ that is a plastic table and plastic chairs and knowing people who will give you bottles of beer and spicy Thai dishes, I will say that the after-teahouse hours were mostly simply just enjoying sunset, assuring the staff ‘yes’ I could handle a two-for-one of the hard stuff, wondering if interestingness and conversation space could happen again by sheer random chance.

It would and did, but I’ll tell you about that after finishing this pot of tea. While trying not to notice the clicking of digital pictures of other tables’ pots of tea, cakes, cookies, and waffley-tarty things.

Deep breath.

‘N’ is on. Very soon.

I’m grateful for this project, which lets me bump into sheer randomness, cool people, and intriguing connections by some engineering and mostly intuition and of course, pure chance. Let’s see where and how we can make more sparkling conversation happen? It’s never a given. Walking into the uncertain, though, is exactly what ‘N’ commands. —AS

 

Sixteen people in Bangkok are gathering soon for ‘N’

the best isyetto come.IT IS SET.

IT IS SET.

Tickets booked. Transportation sorted. Even a place to stay.

This is way, way different from other things I’ve been doing.

HOW IT WORKS. Guests for ‘N’ Bangkok all had to commit to a ticket BEFORE we picked a date. Then, we chose together. This process took a little bit of time. Of course it did. But you know what? It wasn’t about the actual event itself, or the ‘what am I gonna get out of it’ thinking that will block us all from exploration, and lateral thinking, and going outside the lines—the very stuff that systems thinkers say you HAVE to do if you want to find new ways to approach (and even, let’s be big picture about it, REDEFINE) the problems and difficulties and hardships that exist. If there’s a knot in something, you don’t have to just untangle that knot. You can look for places where the real stressors are, and then you can—

But wait.

Before I turn this into a shout-out for the benefits of doing things you’d never do SO THAT you can DISCOVER new approaches, perspectives, people, and ideation methods, I will just say this.

OMW Bangkok, I can’t wait to meet you again. I’m so looking forward to the conversation about ‘NOW.’ It’s been really fun meeting so many people online ahead of ‘N’. I’ve learned so much about the way it’s very, very different from real life. I’m much better in real life, so it was hard! But I didn’t want ‘N’ to be about ‘packing it up,’ as much as about Open Space, in which ‘whoever comes is the right people’ is a major tenet. Did they WANT to come? This is something you have to pre-commit to, so that means, no deciding at the last minute, and for me, as host, no entertaining the kinds of people who just want to use everything as a networking/date-finding opportunity, or who are bored and come along at the last minute as a ‘favor’ to you. Blech. That’s not ‘N’ at all. ‘N’ is much much more than that. It’s why it’s so special to me, personally, and why it made magic, in my opinion!, on April 26, 2015 in Phnom Penh. No giant corporate sponsor, no beer company, no obligation to buy buy buy something from someone. Just conversation. Pure. It’s like inviting you to my house, but of course, I don’t have a house in Bangkok. But because I’ve laid quite a few ground rules and talked extensively with the venue, everyone knows that for the time frame I’ve booked for ‘N’, it IS kind of like my house. And I will welcome my guests as though they are my real houseguests. Remember when we used to have people over, and talk, and just enjoy the art of conversations? It’ll be like that, if you are old enough to recall a time when we didn’t leave things open without RSVP’ing ‘no,’ and we didn’t cancel on the fly. In my growing-up time, these things were considered ‘rude.’ Because it’s so normal now, and because I can’t stand that, I made ‘N’ to push back on the culture of maybe.

SEE YOU SOON, BKK ‘N’ GUESTS! Maybe we were talking online, for a while, or maybe we met once, or maybe we were there for a small moment of shared space. ‘N’ is designed space. ‘N’ is just for you. Thank you, to the 16 people who have trusted me to hold the space.

See you soon. Agenda to follow. I’ll email, of course, with that. —AS