New for July and August: KAIROS

THE WORD IS GOOD. The word that has to do with moment-noticing. All of the ‘N’ stuff was about that, really. The noticing of the moment, the celebrating the urgency of NOW. After writing constantly about HUMANITY for the last eight weeks, and going into places I’ve never, ever imagined going (and wigging out quite a bit, at times), I am loosening the strangleholds on this editorial calendar and letting loose for a play with the moment and the beauty therein.

Kairos for the little children who give their mothers the kind of gazes that makes the mothers write long, beautiful posts on social media and teach us words like ‘kairos.’

Kairos! For the Greeks that Henry Miller lauds for their innocent mastery of all things aesthetically angled in his book, Colossus of Maroussi.

This is the story that’s coming together next, in the July/August sequence of our eZine, S. P. A. C. E. Kairos because it’s time.


Get fresh S. P. A. C .E.

STAMMTISCH #5 || A salon about the creative process and why we bother to make, design

Update: In April 2018, DK are hosting this event for creatives in Phnom Penh and who are passing through to talk about the process of “making” and “making a living,” and how those two things relate to one another. Inspired by conversations with “digital nomads” in Indonesia, Thailand, and Malaysia, plus a budding interest in something *new* that will get us offline and looking at one another, made DK become interested in restarting the real-life Monday meet ups that we used to do in a past life in Seattle. The fifth ‘Stammtisch’ is going to be in Phnom Penh this coming Monday. Limited seats. Advance bookings only. It’s $15 to participate. Register here.

***

Artrepreneurship: ‘Is it right for me?’

Photo: OMNI Photostudios

SALON & MEETUP FOR DESIGNERS. This is the fifth time that we will host STAMMTISCH in Phnom Penh. We’ll make it short, sweet and a chance to mingle with creative people based in this city or just passing through. STAMMTISCH #5 in Phnom Penh on Monday is designed to be very small, and a chance to share some of the creative projects we are all working on.

DK is seeking creative people to connect and interconnect in real life. STAMMTISCH is s a traveling series. This started in an earlier form as ‘Designers Korner’ in Seattle 2006-2009 at Stumbling Monk and Vermillion Gallery in Capitol Hill. After that we circled to other places: Durham NC, Raleigh, Bangkok, and Phnom Penh. Join us for the next conversations. Details will be announced on our calendar for where, but it’s always on Monday, 4-6:30PM. (Can’t come because you have ‘work?’ Well, this is by design meant to be for people who are in charge of their own schedules. Makes for a more intriguing conversation, we’ve found, that way.)

Design Kompany events have been featured in GOOD magazine, North Carolina’s Independent Weekly, Seattle’s The Stranger, and Asia Life Cambodia.

WHO SHOULD COME TO STAMMTISCH #5. You also have a difficult time accepting ‘schools of design’ or fads. You will have earned your chops, but know when to keep your eyes and ears open. You are naturally curious and want to connect with the world in a meaningful way. You care about quality. You know that ultimately, your toughest client is yourself. You are someone who has worked in a design field for long enough to know that networking with others who’ve also got some experience is time valuably spent. That’s because we have different approaches to overlapping concerns: choosing our clientele, continuing to innovate and grow our businesses, how to best develop new products and services, and where to uncover new opportunities.

WHY THIS MATTERS. The world is changing, and the ‘how’ of making work work is something we can learn from one another in a conversation salon like this: real-time, real-life conversations with others also doing, making, sharing and growing. DK seeks others who are interested in learning about the way others think, that is, who are open to new ways of trying things. Ultimately, we make a break from the old thinking of ‘this is how it’s always been done.’ Status quo kills beauty in design. That’s what we feel. Let’s meet and connect and share what’s been interesting and new, in person, on this Monday afternoon. STAMMTISCH is one of our many kinds of  S P A C E. Making spaces for us to meet and talk, like for real, and about things that matter, and in ways that connect and engage us, is the ‘why’ of making S P A C E.

WHAT YOU’LL GET. Are you a designer? Do you work with people? Are you interested in talking more with others who do both? You’ll get a chapter of Design Kompany’s collection S P A C E || Circumference, when you register for a ticket.

LIGHT PROGRAM. Perhaps you’re interested in talking shop—about international business styles and how they vary, about lessons lessons learned from growing a business that continues to evolve, about trends and chapters in the emerging fields of digital technologies, communications, and how we relate to others through visual composition, through words, through Snaps… Let’s meet and talk more. A light program will be shared with those who confirm attendance. Meet us on 2F of Java, the one by Independence Monument.

HOW TO REGISTER

Very limited seats, and advance bookings only, please. This is where to go to register for a ticket.

Get a ticket. // Photo: Phnom Penh Post

How to want less so you can experience more

‘MILLENIALS. I just…’

‘…’

‘No.’

‘Hm?’

‘Can’t work with them.’

‘Hm?’

‘You know. People in their thirties, for example. Mostly those ones. They get all weirded out and want to investigate every opportunity in the universe. But they don’t actually decide on anything. And then, when they don’t, they can’t really… well, I don’t wanna judge or anything, but they seem… really… um… Well, it’s not nice but… confused. Or at least… something that… Hm. Let me put it this way. I wish people could just relax, you know? And notice that if you want less, you can experience more.’

*nodding*

rlcK7DX5

But really I love millenials, I think

‘SO I’VE JUST DECIDED. I’M NOT GOING TO TALK TO THEM. Okay. Maybe that’s not fair.’

‘…’

‘But really, what it comes down to, I think, what I’ve learned from 20 years of design, is that it’s about editing. What was that famous quote? About essentials?’

‘Simplicate and add lightness?’

‘No, no, the other one.’

‘This one?:’

‘Perfection is finally attained not when there is no longer anything to add, but when there is no longer anything to take away …’

‘YES.’

‘…’

‘But distractions get in the way. Other options are distractions. FOMO is a distraction.’

‘…’

‘And phones. PHONES. What really kills me is the phone thing. How a phone becomes a kind of appendage and it’s weird, you know?’

‘…’

‘I can’t do it anymore. They talk to you while they’re looking at screens. It’s so awkward. How can you have a quality conversation with that kind of stuff going on?’

‘…’

(you don’t have to take my word. you wanna hear it from someone else? Like this famous white dude?)


‘I’m not saying they have to pay attention to me or anything, well, maybe I am saying that, but yeah. Okay. But I am saying… well, there is this other person sitting there and looking at you and giving you their whole attention and well, it’s just… it’s annoying. I think it’s a different kind of culture. Yeah, if I put it that way, it’s not personal. Anyway, I can’t be bothered.’

‘You sound like you’ve made up your mind.’

‘I think [Millenials] could use some simple framing. Simplicity-making. To get clarity on things. Anyway I like the new young people. The like, 22 year old and stuff ones. They don’t talk with their screens always on and poking at you, like it’s no big deal to call up a picture of someplace to illustrate with a digital thingy what they want to tell you. Like information is more important. Than eye contact. But the younger ones, they actually look at you. And listen. They listen! I’m…. I was really shocked when I met a few, this past trip to Europe. I met them and they listened. Like—without phone-checking.’

‘Phones. Bother you, huh.’

‘Yeah. I don’t have one.’

‘You don’t have a phone?’

‘No.’

‘… wait. How does that work?’

‘It’s not that complicated. It’s like the nineties, is all.’rlcK7DX5

Phoneless in Phnom Penh

‘YOU ASK THE YOUNG TWENTYSOMETHINGS simple questions and they don’t go all frenetic on you. You can be pointed. You can say, ‘What are you worried about?” or “What’s next?” You don’t have to worry that they’ll take it like you’re their uncle and interrogating them. They accept the challenge of it, and answer honestly. They really do. They entertain the questions and they are careful in their response-making. They don’t waste their breath or get all crazy about FOMO. They just don’t. I like that. I like these new people, coming up.’

‘So what are you going to do?’

‘NOTHING.’

‘…’

‘Okay. Well,. I think I’ll do SELF.’

‘For the Millenials?’

‘Mostly. Yeah. Or for whoever thinks it’s cool to think about things slowly and work out what’s important to them.’

‘What’s it about?’

S P A C E.

More like this, and exclusives

THIS POST originally appeared in our online eZine, S. P. A. C. E. Get it and discover what people around the world are saying about their creative process, when you become a patron of DK.

Become a patron of DK

‘Whatever. I can’t just, well, I don’t want to just spell it out.’

Screenshot 2016-05-30 23.11.47


Published in S. P. A. C. E. 

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‘TELL PEOPLE, in a relatable way, why they should care and why it will make their lives better. Your offering. Whichever one.’

‘What??’

‘Dude. You just have to think about it. The benefits. Not features.’

‘But, but! This is about… self-actualization. This isn’t the kind of thing you go around plastering up and about like it’s some kind of cheap detergent or a Pop Art thingy or something like… I mean… it’s about… Argh. I just can’t do this. I can’t go into description.’

‘But that’s what you have to do. You have to tell people in a relatable way—’

‘Yeah yeah. Why it’s important and why they should care.’

‘Yeah. And how it will make their life better.’

‘So which thing? I mean, there’s the thing about the conversations in real life, which aren’t really something that I need to tell people about en masse, you know, like I kinda actually like it that they are small and incognito, it’s like some kind of… I don’t know… thing. It feels great when it just pops up and magically happens, without too much noise and discomfort and fanfare and people-managing. I mean, sorry, that’s not cool to say, is it? People managing? But I mean. That’s what happens when it gets to be too… many. The value is diluted.’

‘Ooh. The value is diluted. Okay, so you’re creating intimate spaces for conversation? Is that it?’

‘I mean, it’s not just conversation. It’s really about making space for people to meet those whose paths they would’t have otherwise have crossed. This is very, very important!’

‘Um. I’m not really sure I get it.’

‘You don’ know how many people say that!’

‘Well, you might want to think about your messaging. And your target audience.’

*winces* ‘My audience is people who want to be better.’

‘Mmm…  um.’

‘No, wait. Hear me out. The thing is this. MOST PEOPLE are pretty content to do what they’re doing, the way things have always “been done,” and never question how they can personally evolve. I mean, you don’t have to do it in some kind of massive revolt-y way. Even when people have the means to do things the way that makes them actually grow, they often don’t. Why is this? Because did you know only 8% of the population in the United States is into ‘actualizing?’ I read that in a book or something and wrote it into a journal and re-read it today. Today, like. I mean, wow. Most people are achieving, or surviving, or other things, but there are very few who actually want to actualize. It’s at the top of the pyramid, you know? That Maslow thingy?’

‘Yeah, yeah. But what is the benefit? How will it make my life better? Say, if I were an actualizer, that is.’

‘You don’t believe me?!?!?’

‘Uh.’

‘I guess at this point usually I would just throw up my hands and say, FINE. You don’t get it. And walk away. Because I’ve… I’ve been too impatient. Yeah, that would be true.’ *pauses* ‘I guess for the last 20 years, um, I’ve—we’ve?—been lucky enough that there were subsets of that 8% of the population that happened to be in my world at the times that they were, and trusted me, uh, us, and commissioned DK, and you know what I mean, it doesn’t just happen the people go, Oh, sure, let me just hand you this massive project that means a lot to me and that I’ve been waiting for the right person to do for my whole professional career and… and… I just have a good gut feeling about you.’

‘So that’s it? That’s why they should care? And how it makes their life better?’

‘They should care because… because they care about themselves. They want to have time and space to actually do some really good work looking inward. And not in a dumb way, like some pay-me-for-listening-to-you kind of setup, I have this play I could show you that is all about that, and it’s weird how society likes to think that you can justify your angst if you can bottle it up and release it in slow dribs at these programmed sessions, you know, like weird, man, and they do it anyway, and I guess since I come from a whole line of this lot of people who prescribe drugs for medicating away basic stuff like ANGST and ENNUI and… wait. What was the question?’

‘Tell people, in a relatable way, why they should care and why it will make their lives better.’

‘What, the eCourse, you mean? The eWorkshop?’

‘Yeah. Sure. And the salons.’

‘The salons are just… I mean. They’re kinda for fun. So I should really talk about the online courses and workshops, huh. I mean, I should tell people what everyone says that these things give them, but that would be weird, because it’s so personal and confidential and I don’t want to parade people around like they’re, you know, sales tools. I hate that kind of thing. I also don’t want a LOT of people, like I said, the conversation spaces usually work best when they’re small. I love small groups. I can really be part of them when I’m able to see everyone at close quarters.’

‘Then why are you… hiding?’

‘Huh?’

‘People want to see the real you. So they know they can trust you.’

‘Dude. People who know me trust me.’

‘So you’re fine with it? Where you are?’

‘Not 100%, but pretty much. Yeah. I like the people who find me. I like finding people, too, for the other thing, the ‘N’ project, but it’s… different. It’s more of a playful thing. It’s less of a… work thing. But… maybe work and play are… kind of overlapping sometimes. And what I do is let it be fun for people to discover who they really are…’

‘… And you’re on to it, almost, I think! Keep going! That’s good…’

‘…’

‘…’

‘Well, it’s not a party, but it feels like one. It’s more of a jam session, but everyone’s serious, not just frivolous time wasting because nothing else was going on that was more interesting. Well, we all make time for this because it’s important to us, and we commit and don’t go all weird and maybeish about it because it’s a, you know, a commitment. And I want to show up and be solid and make a space that’s good working space, not just fluff, not just woo-woo shite, but you know, like… insight-making. And it works, when it happens. When it does, it really does. I know I should brag about all the stuff I’ve done and put the big logos of all the stuff that has featured everything on the site and whatever but I just don’t want to do it like everyone else. I want to let people find me because they really want to do something interesting, not just standard fare. It’s not ‘self-help’ and I’m not a coach. It’s more… it’s more about… growth. Who wants to grow? Who wants to be better? How do you do that, when it’s not like you can easily discover others who want to do that? I’m talking about that slim segment of the 8% of the population in the US, and even less elsewhere because I have this US style and it’s not like it works everywhere. you know?’

‘Yeah, dude. I know.’

‘Good. ‘Cause lately, I’ve been feeling pretty darn misunderstood.’

‘It’s just esoteric and inaccessible, that’s all.’

‘I know. That’s why for a while, I was doing the comics.’—JP

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

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‘You need a net, though’

‘YOU MEAN THE GUY WHO CAME OVER, and slept on the bed, in the extra room?’

‘Yeah.’

‘That room, really? The one with all the mosquitoes? And NO NET?’

‘Yeah, yeah. When we used to live there.’

‘I can’t believe… That room had no net, dude.’

‘I know. But it was him. I had to like go over there and talk to him and ask him, it was you, wasn’t it? You’ve been to my house? And then, he was like, “Hai.”‘

‘Japanese people. Shy.’

‘…’

‘TOO shy.’

‘…’

‘What’s all that shyness gonna get you?’

‘…’

‘Say.’

‘No.’

‘Anyway, he seemed nice. I hope he comes to game night.’

S P A C E || Washing yarn and drawing mangoes

‘HEY.’

‘Hey.’

‘How did it go…?’

‘Really, really well. I am so… Inspired. To keep doing this sort of thing. You know, I keep on wondering if anyone’s reading or listening or anything and then, wham! It hits, like a juggernaut, heh, I just wanted to say “juggernaut.”‘

*smiles all around*

‘But you know? There was this moment of suddenly waking up, like as if, as if the whole thing about collecting scraps of Camus and Poincare’s stuff and bits and pieces over time, how many years now?–‘

‘Twenty.’

‘–yeah, twenty!, jeez, anyway, I think it has been worth it. Taking it on this journey. Around the world, and all that. I have the handful of books, the books that when I hold them give me a feeling—that’s what I was talking about with—‘

‘Hey. I uh, Um… Can you, um?’

‘Oh, oh. Yeah, sorry. What time is it? Lunch in a few? And you have to get across town for that meeting, okay okay. But the point is, the point is!, that you know what? There isn’t really a point, but the thing I learned is that there is definitely room for this kind of thing. Space making and stuff. Getting it up and organized, the dialogue rooms, even if they’re borrowed spaces, that’s actually part of it, I think the charm of the special focus and thematic arrangement, as if a composition is coming together. I’m not musical, but I like it, and no, I love it, when there’s something fusing in a way that feels right. Feels good. Quality is what you like, remember? Remember that big ol’ book that had that in it? Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance? That you wanted me to read in the 1990s? And I was like, duh, no way, that’s a book about some dude and a road trip, and you know, later, way later, it was way more than that…  It was about seeking things that are more interesting and intriguing and feel good.’

‘…’

‘So yeah. I’m gonna keep going.’

‘You’re gonna keep making conversation salons? But I thought you were done with real life ones. That you were going to do the online things, like the magazine and the workshops?’

‘Oh, well, yeah. I have had such a great time with the conversations in S. P. A. C. E., and so, I got distracted. I stopped really doing anything with people in person anymore. And I guess not since Denmark, not since showing up and running about to see what might happen have I made any efforts in that dimension because, because, well, I think Phnom Penh is a bit slow on this sort of thing. I mean, not Phnom Penh… The expat scene here… The people I’m talking to, or I think I’m talking to. I think they’re a little bit too by-the-book, you know? Like, no scruffiness, no out of the box, nothing out of the extraordinary. So in form are they with the status quo that something that purports to buck the status quo—as simple and quiet as a salon is, in raising questions about how we are existing and the beliefs we buy wholesale without critique–well, I think it’s just… Sort of… Um. Odd to them.’

‘Uh-huh.’

‘I mean, the whole thing is just too esoteric, or at least, that’s what I thought. But I’m reading a lot online and going through all these bits and notes like I said and yeah, I’m seeing the commonalities. The big thinkers in physics and psychology and even the motivated business leadership they talk about doing the thing you’re the Best in the World at, and I think… I think.. It’s starting to be clear, after two DECADES, that there is… There HAS to be a way to enjoy the engagements that come together in offline, non-agenda, common space in semi-public rooms where people converge from very disparate backgrounds and origins in order to discuss that which touches our core, as humans. As human beings, you know? Not cogs in wheels in some system that’s been designed by people who just want us to Work so Hard that we are constantly Busy (with what? For who? To what end? And how is it adding to our own long-term value-making, by the way?) for some reason. It’s gig to gig with people here, contract to contract. They’re not even trying, some of ’em. The quality—the competency—is dodgy, mate. It really is. It’s disappointing that people who aren’t interested in aspiring to be more, but just complacent with the paycheck and the pretense of being busy with something (though they can’t succinctly tell you what that something is), I mean… It’s… Gobsmacking.’

‘Uh….’

‘Don’t worry. I won’t write it up or anything. I won’t make a big noise about how disappointed I am when people aren’t, uh, very good… at seeing there’s way the hell more out there to do and be and seeking is part of it and it’s a choice…Whew, sounds harsh, but I think my people know already that there’s the rest, out there, way closer than anyone lets on… I need to gather them into these salons, so they can relax and engage and talk—I think that’s my Thing, you know? What I have to do, what DK is about… What Making Space can be for people is pretty… What’s the word… I guess you just have to experience it… Plus it could evolve, you know? It could… Be something. I can see myself taking this to Seattle and Portland—I think they’d remember DK from the past, perhaps? It’s not like there’s SUCH a big populace there and heck, why not just reconnect with a few… And…

‘…’

‘Well, hey. I just promise I won’t complain. I’ll just…’

‘What?’

‘Keep going with the salons. Or whatever comes up next. Maybe they’ll catch on, in time, when there are enough people embittered with a system that takes and takes and doesn’t give them anything in return that makes their lives feel good. Feeling good, right? I mean, quality, right? I mean, yeah! I’m gonna do it.’

‘Do it. I’ve gotta—‘

‘Yeah, okay. Say hi to C.’

‘But dude, what’s that thing about yarn and mangoes?’

‘Oh, right. Remember when you said when we were younger that if you want to start knitting, and you were in Japan, and you were serious, you don’t just start with a set of needles, right, you have to kinda start from the very VERY beginning. Washing yarn.’

*laughing* ‘I didn’t say that. Did I? Someone else must’ve.’

‘No. You did.’

‘And?’

‘And when it comes to drawing, like those ones from The Cloud place the other day that I made, when I followed some people over there? Yeah, that time. I mean, live drawing isn’t something you just go in cold and start, the same way you don’t just go in and start knitting without knowing the yarn through and through, right? So I said, I said to people there, if you want to draw the human figure, I recommend starting with something else. And they said, “What?” And I said, maybe cause it’s the season, I said, “Draw mangoes.”‘ –JP

 

Fear of the Unknown, Part 1

THIS IS A TED talk I just found by Ruth Chang, who nails it square when she talks about ‘hard choices’ being not really so much about being hard as a chance for us to decide, ‘Who do I want to become?’

This is the video…

So when we face hard choices, we shouldn’t beat our head against a wall trying to figure out which alternative is better. There is no best alternative. Instead of looking for reasons out there, we should be looking for reasons in here: Who am I to be? You might decide to be a pink sock-wearing, cereal-loving, country-living banker, and I might decide to be a black sock-wearing, urban, donut-loving artist. What we do in hard choices is very much up to each of us. —Ruth Chang

Pretty cool, right?

But how about that. Deciding to be who you want to be FIRST, and letting the choices follow from THERE. More about thinking in reverse from our usual programming, in another post, Part 2.

Choices

This event has ended. Stay connected. Get tips, notes, essays, and exclusive Q&A interviews on how we decide the steps that come next in our work, lives, and the universal that ties them: the creative process. Subscribe to our eZine S. P. A. C. E.

The work is in the doing

GOING THROUGH THE EMAIL. Doing the work. ‘N’ work, that is. I have got a new list of invitees to reach out to, an old one to follow up with, and the rest.

Got to talk to more than 100 people if I can find 16 to say ‘yes’ to ‘N’. (Learned this from ‘N’ Phnom Penh and ‘N’ Bangkok last year, phew.)

MAKING ’16N’. This is the biggest project DK has taken on so far: gather strangers in one moment of a conversation, in a space designed and hosted by one of us. In a city that starts with an ‘N’. It’s kinda nuts.

But why? Why even bother?

People do ask this. A lot. Why does this work matter to you guys? Why does it mean anything to get people who don’t know each other to meet, and talk, offline, in real life?

Long story, this. I’ll cut to the chase. Without discovering people and their ideas—of new ways, new to a person, that is—that person can’t grow. Adapt based on new inputs. Learn.

Part of maturing is, sure, about being open-minded.

But you can be as open-minded as you want and sit alone in an armchair reading books and not really having active knowledge of what it’s like to look directly at the eyes and straight through them, into the heart, of the Other.

Other doesn’t have to be Scary.

Other can reveal something to us about… ourselves.

(Enter Jung. Exit Jung).

Othering.

This is a term that just walked into my world one day in recent conversation with DM. It’s weird. I never thought… But then, of course…. And so….

My Western colleagues and I have been programmed to fear or disdain or isolate ourselves from Others.

Others who think about a different kind of clothing to wear (this as teens).

Others who are not like us in physical appearance.

Beliefs, dogmas (dangerous, this last one, but I’ve said why in 30K words in a book you can find here).

Others who may, just maybe, judge us. Fear.

Fear is put into us because we don’t know.

But physics! Physics at the very small scales is ALL ABOUT not knowing!

‘We have no idea where that bit got off to,’ et al.

The mystery of the universe becomes a fun thing to think about, to conjecture. I talked about this with a particle physicist, SW, who had been touring about in Asia with some kind of software. It was a random encounter and an unlikely conversation, but taht was the upshot. ‘Where did it all start? Where soup did we all come from, anyway?’ More just me marvelling into the cloudy nothing, awed about the whole of the every. (Kind of gets metaphysical, huh.)

No one has to be right. Contrary to all the stuff that we’re taught to believe (getting famous is good, the great genius and his remarkable breakthrough is to be sought, etc), it’s not like anyone can ‘figure it all out’ without any sort of input. And the richness of that input is what invites fertile ground for sowing the sorts of seeds that lead to brilliant blooms.

Getting poetic, now. Sometimes that just happens.

Anyway, the point: No one human being alone can know.

But what if we could know, at least a little, the feeling of Other and the Unknown? Through bit by bit engagement? As in, a little bit at a time of learning what another way is like? You don’t have to take a college course to experience a little bit of, ‘Huh, that’s new.’ You can just have a conversation salon.

NEW DIRECTIONS. Starting things up. In the staged spaces of Designful Meetups. More than anything, the work is about the invitation. Which is why there are so many of these going out, this week and through the weekend. Why?

The invitation is THE most important part.

Of quality spacemaking, that is. Subject for another day.

Unless you feel like you’re personally invited to something, unless you feel like the sender is someone who actually cares if you’re part of the story they’re making, then it’s going to fall on deaf ears. You know what else? Everyone says they’re so busy and stuff, but what are people so busy with? That kind of intentional decisionmaking of where to spend time on what and with whom is kinda important. Because before we know it, our time’s gonna be up.

When people get together for ‘N,’ for example, when they meet to talk together—16 people per city—and talk on topics that start with an ‘N,’ it starts to be clear.

The arbitrary nature of constraints like ‘Has to have an N in it (the city, the venue)’ and ‘You have to get a ticket ahead of time, since I want to really make sure this is going to happen and not just let’s just talk about it)’, these.

These are frames.

To design a space.

To hinge a great dialogue—but maybe that’s too heavy a word—a great conversation jam upon.

The secret? It doesn’t matter WHO comes or WHAT happens in the box. The point is that it HAPPENS. Which means all the work of designing ‘N’ is, quite honestly, in the drudge work of slogging through email and making tons and TONS and EVEN MORE invitations. Because I’m looking for the magic set of 16. Sixteen in each of 16 cities, eventually (2 have happened so far), who will say, ‘Yes.’

If you’re a new invitee, I get it. You don’t know me from Adam. Don’t know what’s involved. And I’m asking you to just trust the process. Walk into the unknown.

When it works, it’s cool. I love it.

A wide mix opts in, I’m noticing. (Gotta start with 100, though.)

But…

That means no cliques, clubs, or preaching-to-the-choirs. It’s hard, this, because everyone is programmed to think, ‘Wait. Is this about ME? Or is this something ELSE? Is this OTHER?’ Which makes it kinda tricky.

Hm.

Okay, yeah.

The box.

You get enough framing up (date, place, time, people) and you have a bounded box.

A safe space.

You step into that space and meet.

We meet.

Guests and me. Their hos for ‘N,’ for example, and other conversation salons, workshops, commissioned facilitation thingies, and so on.

BUT THE MOST IMPORTANT PART OF THE LEARNING for DK has been to discover that whatever happens IN the box isn’t the point.

All salons and events—for commission or for fun—are about gathering people in spaces where they might feel a little out of their usual routine, meeting people they might not have otherwise have met. Most consistent feedback is, ‘I had so many great conversations. We talked about __, but I never thought about  it that way before.’

You get a lot of molecules together and they start heating up and guess what, they get ‘excited.’ That’s what we called them, in science class, in seventh grade, didn’t we? Molecules are getting excited. Excited states are fantastic. You get amped. Wait, no. That’s voltage…

So what am I doing today? Making the invitations.

Emailing like mad.

The new invites.

For ‘N’.

London, Copenhagen, Ha Noi, Bologna. The work is in the doing… We have to get 16 per city… That means 100×4… 400 invitations…

It’s gonna be a little busy, hunkering down over the internet these next few days.

Making my way around the world, looking for people to play 16N.

Designing more and better space

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I STARTED A CONVERSATION with the [DELETED].

We’re thinking of creating custom writing prompts for the people who are interested in making space and time for serious, quality self-reflection.

It’s not for everyone, of course. Most people, I’m learning, really hate the idea of starting this kind of thing. Even though they know it’s good for them.

Like vitamins and yoga, journaling is this ‘extra’ thing that no one really seems to prioritize. Even though people at the forefront of business, technology and artistic pursuits know that you need to focus. Focus, focus, focus. When you do, you can move with clarity on the path that moves you to the mountain instead of distracts you from your own inner desires—even when you don’t name them explicitly, something in you knows that you are supposed to be doing something else with your life.

How will you use your gift of human life? asks Kathleen Singh, a writer I’d corresponded with back in the day when we were designing the first prompts for this project.

PRESENTLY DK now works, for the most part, P2P. Not B2B. Relationships! Relationships are everything. They matter. Big time.

Yet the fabric that is getting made as we knit a new network, one in which creative people everywhere are part of an ambient, ongoing weekly conversation, I don’t know yet what it will look like, exactly. I just know that it’s important to keep sharing about it, because sharing is the village.

So that’s part of why. The change. To this magazine, from a design commission sort of arrangement for our clients.

Instead of businesses and owners, I now work with individuals. 1:1.

Now, more than ever, I am enjoying P2P conversations.

That, I think, is where I can see myself being useful to you. Content sharing. The prompts are good ones and the short-form eWorkshop, which I’d sent the link to, is a streamlined 8-week sequence.

I’ve hosted THE MIRROR now twice. Really it works. And the people who like it tend to be interested in actually doing the big work. Actually writing. 🙂

Next up is a world in which we can design our own roles in conversation that’s hosted, guided and N:N. International. Creative people connecting, around the world, one designful moment at a time. Who wants to do this with me? —DK

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Trust the creative process, find the art and magic

[Update: AS OF SEPTEMBER 2017, DK is making Atelier S P A C E. But before we began roving the world gathering people in real life for conversations about the creative process (and hands-on programmes designed to get us doing instead of just thinking about doing), we used to have these conversations in virtual spaces. The Q&A series that we made for our online magazine, S P A C E, continues to be a place where we return for inspiration. A past life in journalism led to the style of asking questions and diving deeper to explore what it is a person cares about most, what she wants to say about her work and how we can contextualize it to make what we learn relevant to a broader audience. Everything we do in S P A C E has to do with the connections between people, with interstitial spaces. That is why we are starting to share more openly some of the early Q&A’s that were originally exclusives for our online community, S P A C E, which subscribes each week to our ongoing conversations, learnings, resources, links, and musings about how we make, who makes, where we are, and why we do this work. For more information about S P A C E, go here.]

 

A CONVERSATION TODAY with North Carolina ceramics artist and a personal friend, Ronan Kyle Peterson.

Here is what he had to say about our theme this month, IMAGINE. We are discovering some shared interests in, amongst a few other things: work, cycles, and practice.

DK: I’ve seen your work evolve quite a bit in the last decade. What is it you are up to?

RKP: Essentially, I am dealing with effects of agents of growth and decay and how these agents shape and embellish the surfaces of stones and the skins of trees. Employing an earthy background palette stretched across textured but quieter surfaces, I wanted to upset that quiet earthiness with intense splashes of vibrant color, patterns, and glossy surfaces not commonly associated with tree bark or the rough surfaces of rocks amidst fallen leaves.

DK: Tell us your thoughts on ‘work’—what is it, who is it for, and why does it matter?

RKP: ‘Work’ noun-wise, would be the pots that I make to sell. Which references my ‘job’ or the verb ‘work’ that I do to make a living. The work for me is learning about color, how colors work together, how color and pattern changes perception of form, and how color pattern and texture can affect a person’s mood or perception of a pot.

The work that interests me, or the energizing part, is figuring out forms for functional purposes—cups and mugs for drinking, bowls for eating or serving from—and decorations or surface treatments that complement and complete the form.

DK: Why do you do what you do?

RKP: I make… because it makes me happy, fulfills a need, keeps me searching. I’m just infinitely blessed that others, customers, want to buy my pots and are interested for the most part in what, the work, that I am doing. It doesn’t matter in a larger context, but it does matter to me, because in the doing I am happy.

DK: Is that where the magic is? In the doing?

RKP: For me, the magic is in the making or the doing. Talking, wishing, and hoping do not get the job done. The magic is in the doing.

DK: A lot of people say they wish they had more time be an artist, make music, travel, write a book, and so on. What you would say to them?

RKP: I guess I would say, you just have to make it happen. And it will not just happen. A lot of times there has to be a sacrifice of something else: sleep, long meals, vegging out, tv, income, family time, socializing… Making time or sacrificing something else to make time seems to be hard for some people, because they are energized and content through socializing, etc. For me, working, making new work, exploring new forms, colors, combinations, that is what energizes me.

DK: What does rhythm mean to you?

RKP: Rhythm recently is not contained in one working cycle. Work is started, but not finished until later, spilling into the next cycle, and the next. It used to be frustrating, but I have found that through continued experimentation with form, color, and pattern, that ideas tend to belong aside one another: they are a continuation of thoughts I build on. I guess this speaks to an overall rhythm? I’m making a healthy offering of cups and mugs each cycle, but I have more larger pieces waiting to be finished. Now it is kind of nice to think more about the larger pieces, figure out different decorations and surface approaches that fit better, better than my original plan. I’ve started reglazing older pieces, [and] making different lids for jars. Revisiting sometimes resolves some deficiencies of the pieces. I have a general set of forms, but I’m trying out new things, mostly decoration-wise, every cycle.

Testing
PROTOTYPING. RKP’s instagram feed (and this image, in particular) caught DK’s eye for our sequence RHYTHM. ‘The image is from a kiln loading with a friend,’ he tells us. ‘Just showing how potters test glazes, not actual product or work, more process to figure out what glazes to use and how they will look in the firing.’

DK: Imagine two young people, maybe teens, who are thinking about artistic pursuits having a conversation, perhaps at a museum somewhere, and they know virtually nothing of the real experiences of people like you who have reached some sort of acceptance, it appears, in the methods you are using to make and do and share. What would you tell them?

RKP: I would say be patient. It takes a lot of time, and failing and observing, to figure things out. One thing that I try to keep in the forefront of my mind is how much help and support I have: I’ve worked for many potters with different styles and aesthetics, I have in-laws who let me use some of their space for a studio, I have galleries who work with me and for the most part allow me to bring them work that I choose to make. Growing that network, that support system, I think, is pretty crucial. And being patient, humble, and open to comment, advice and opportunities.

Discover more about RKP at his website.

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