ZINES. Real life. Conversations. Making space for the stories of us, where we are, with the people whose paths we might not have otherwise crossed, right where we are. New learning, new thinking, new perspectives, and a. creative kick from the atelier that is Atelier S P A C E. Making ‘rooms’ for dialogue and perspective-making insight since 1994, more or less, but officially as a zinemaking atelier since 2017 in Battambang, Singapore, Penang, Kuala Lumpur, Helsinki, Oulu, and Phnom Penh. This event is part of a series, Atelier S P A C E | India. We’ll choose the date, time, and place on a Doodle poll. To start, request details through the form below. More from there.
ZINES. Real life. Conversations. Making space for the stories of us, where we are, with the people whose paths we might not have otherwise crossed, right where we are. New learning, new thinking, new perspectives, and a. creative kick from the atelier that is Atelier S P A C E. Making ‘rooms’ for dialogue and perspective-making insight since 1994, more or less, but officially as a zinemaking atelier since 2017 in Battambang, Singapore, Penang, Kuala Lumpur, Helsinki, Oulu, and Phnom Penh. This event is part of a series, Atelier S P A C E | Lithuania. Free for members of S P A C E. We’ll choose the date, time, and place on a Doodle poll. To start, request details through the form below. More from there.
Request more info…
RETURNING TO SINGAPORE for the second-ever popup salon-cum-zinemaking atelier, Atelier S P A C E. This time, we’ve got a bunch of zines to show from our travels to Finland, Malaysia, Cambodia, and the UK. This is a chance to engage very deeply and meaningfully with a very small group of people: just 4. You’ll meet, greet, and connect to co-create an 8-page zine, built from the conversations you’ll be part of as we talk, discover, and find our way to what the group wants to make, together. A unique experiential publishing opportunity. Made with, and for, those of you who are ready to try something new. Curious? Book here.
In search of meaning
E X P L O R I N G _ T H E _ A R T
Times, shifts, curiosity about new people and new ways of thinking, and the general crisscross of emails and vague fragments of thoughts are what we write and share about in S P A C E. Works are creative nonfiction short stories, co-created with members of Design Kompany’s team both in Phnom Penh and in the places where we are going to discover new and different voices ‘out there,’ in the field..
Where are the new and unusual perspectives, hiterto underreported or cast aside as ‘ethnic?’ Let’s go find them. Let’s write them, share them, co-create them. In S P A C E Meet us there? Introductory offer: subscribe for just $4/week.
S P A C E posts every Tuesday at 7AM USEST. When. you subscribe, you’ll get it every week by email, plus these exclusive PDF zines, too. Themes change but the idea is that we get closer to the study of what it means to look, listen, discover, hear what we are able to piece together when we make a space for quieting, and noticing, both one another, and ourselves.
Into the Quiet
S P A C E | Kärsämäki, ‘ The Book of Slow Moment’
S P A C E | Oulu, ‘Kesärakkausjuttu’
Finding the stillness.
18 December, 2018
S P A C E | Phnom Penh, ‘Angle of Incidence’
Living in Cambodia: then and now.
1 January, 2019
S P A C E | Tampere, ‘Miia’
8 January, 2019
S P A C E | Kyoto, ‘One Moment Cafe’
Alexis Jokela’s follow-up story, set in Tampere, to Jokela’s July piece, ‘A Summer Love Story’
15 January, 2019
S P A C E | Helsinki, ‘Coat Check’
22 January, 2019
S P A C E | Brussels, ‘The Work of Art’
A. Spaice goes to Helsinki to discover 16 random strangers and talk to them, at a once-off conversation salon on the theme, NEUROSIS. Here’s what happened.
5 February, 2019
S P A C E | Rovaniemi, ‘Arctic Circle”
12 February, 2019
S P A C E | Berlin, ‘Strange Geometries’
A jaunt to Lapland, unplanned and spontaneous, lands a pair of wanderers at the gateway of an unmistakably enchanted forest. Inspired by H. C. Andersen’s description in The Snow Queen of ‘Finnmark’.
19 February, 2019
S P A C E | Singapore, ‘The Prospect of Beauty’
26 February, 2019
S P A C E | Malmö, ‘Vakt’
What makes something beautiful? Looking with a microscope for ‘the remarkable’ in a money-obsessed island.
Calls for submission will be made through S P A C E. Subscribe to get the details.
First editorial meeting today, for S P A C E | Phnom Penh, ‘Angle of Incidence.’
Discovering, sourcing, planning, sharing, connecting, interconnecting and framing. That’s what it is. To start.
Getting the team together. Organizing the pages without overthinking or over designing.
Leaving room for stuff to develop, other stuff to emerge. Being okay with things taking time. Being cool with letting go of what doesn’t fit, in the collection. Bricolage and collage being my ‘thing,’ along with relational art and the aesthetics around that, which academics write about (thank y0u) but which I, personally, design moments in which me, and hopefully others who also enjoy these things, can experience the ‘magic moment.’
AHEAD. New things, ahead. Grateful for the learning, and the reconsiderations of old things. For the replies to the notes I’ve been sending here and there around the world, and calls that I’m getting to make and enjoy relaxing into, too. For the responses to the poetry, for the notes and the critiques to the Winter 2018-9 collection’s editorial calendar. For the trust. For showing up. For the new rekindlings, deepening of some of what had begun, on my last trips here, and also, for the continued happening-upon new and different others that lands me here, time and time again, in S P A C E. Today was cool. It’s not over yet, but it’s been really neat. Booked tickets. Firmed up plans for the next stops. [To the wonderful urban planner, C, whom I just met today–hey! That was one hell of a conversation and very much needed. My questions again: how do we design and architect social spaces that ‘feel great’, but also, help people discover ways to think crticically and make choices that let them live better? What does a full city contain that an underdeveloped one doesn’t? What should be doing, as people who design spaces, and whose responsible for us ‘being happy’ and ‘living such as to become our best selves?’ Used to nerd about about these topics at walkable communities conferences Stateside and the time in Seattle interviewing loads and loads of engineers, city officials, and yeah, urban planners. The podcast I mentioned, is here. So yeah. Looks like Tuesdays are turning into S P A C E-y ones. Shall I make another thing? I can. I’m thinking maybe just two or three people now. It’s tiring, sometimes, to keep at it. But yeah. Sometimes you fall into the moment and it catches you by surprise. If you wanna talk about art, design, architecture, the shape of space, poetics, cities, and what gives the fabric of meaning to them, hey. I’m all in. Just hit me up.) To A and K: safe journeys. To A and R: SYS. And yeah. For anyone wondering what’s going on behind the scenes, here is where to join the conversation.]
IN A STRANGE, curious, wonderful arrangement of things related to times, shifts, curiosity about new people and new ways of thinking, and the general crisscross of emails and vague fragments of thoughts that belong to, well, S P A C E, I’m having a moment. A moment of learning. Of wild-eyed awareness of what it is we do. In S P A C E. Not because I haven’t done things here before that I feel have merit, but because I wasn’t able to pack it into a short, concise, easy-to-relate-to, and most importantly, fast, little sentence. A ‘blurb,’ if you will. A ‘marketing blurb,’ ugh, cringe, bleh. And yet. You have to. Be relatable. If you want to be related to. Only in recent weeks, practicing by doing this, more and more, the making of space in which new and different others can find remarkable connexion, sure, in the salons and workshops and ateliers and popups and even now, in the co-created works we are publishing soon in miniature printed zines, too, it’s happening. The awareness of the what, after so many years of practicing how, and theorizing about why. ‘What’ has been important, of course, in the big way it always is. But when people asked me, ‘What is this, DK?,’ I wanted to run. To Sweden, to hide on a boat, say. Or bury myself into books. (Described both experiences in Breakfast in Cambodia). But I have to answer the question now. It’s taken a while, but I know how, now. About the ‘what is it’ thing. I know. Ask me? Here’s a form.
Midsummer in Finland is a magical time, and the author Alexis Jokela‘s ‘Kesärakkausjuttu‘, or ‘A Summer Love Story,’ celebrates this refreshing and remarkable time.
JOIN DK online from 6PM-6:30PM to be part of the reading, live, from the newest issue of S P A C E. This one, from Finland. We’ll be sharing the link to where you can join the conversation and listen and connect to others also interested in hearing the author, Alexis Jokela, reading from the new short piece. This will be conducted on the videoconference space, Zoom. Meantime, we’ll also gather in real life in Phnom Penh at a small location to be shared only with those who pre-order the bundle before 15 Oct. A very intimate gathering to partake of conversation about a very intimate subject. Love, relationships, sex, the story. We’re going to bring it all up, in this special zine launch, S P A C E | Kärsämäki, ‘Kesärakkausjuttu’.
What people are saying about S P A C E zines…
- ‘This is so my life!’ —J
- ‘So true.’ —K
- ‘Now I understand things better. Thank you for writing this.’ —S
- ‘Oh! I can so relate to this.’ —J
- ‘It’s about here. Here! I have to know more.’ —G
- ‘Beautiful.’ —O
A Summer Love Story
This set of stories were made at Atelier S P A C E || Kärsämäki through programmes of Atelier S P A C E from June-August, 2018, it tells the honest and raw, real stories collected from people who shared openly, after some time, about their feelings about relationships, love, romance, and disconnection. It was a privilege to be able to hear these, and DK’s team worked to put the conversations together into a narrative that might be an easy read, something of depth and substance, yet short. For those who might be interested in discovering what it’s like to be in Finland and wonder about love. Stories of summer, stories of endings, stories of love, stories of beginnings. All told directly in an honest sharing through Alexis’ unique perspective on a city north of his own, in Finland, exploring and curious.
The lead chapter is called ‘Katsotaanpas sitten,’ or, ‘Let’s see, then.’
Here’s how it starts:
‘THIS WAS HOW IT HAPPENED.. This was the way my summer love affair with the one I cannot name came into shape, at first only as a theory, and then, with the flesh, in the way things go when we are able to let them, without overthinking the future, and disregarding the past.’ — Alexis Jokela, in Kesärakkausjuttu‘
ALKU ON VAIKEIN osa kirjoittaa. Aloittaminen, alku. Tunne, ettei tiedä, mistä asiat alkavat. Jos vain, jos vain. Kyllä kyllä. Kesä. Näen nyt. Yritän saada tunteita järjestäytyneeksi. Ei ole helppoa. Minulla ei ole aavistustakaan, mitä teen. (Mutta … ei ole näin, miten se alkaa, olen tuntenut hänet alle kymmenen päivää, onko se näin, se on, miten tällainen asia alkaa.) Onko kesä rakkaustarina. Minä en tiedä. Katsotaan.’ — Alexis Jokela, in Kesärakkausjuttu
SHORT STOP IN Phnom Penh for unexpected popping-up gigs. Still curious about this place. Still asking questions. Still engaged with all the things that got me excited about Cambodia when I first arrived in Phnom Penh in March 2014. Stayed, mostly writing through the end of 2017, at which time I hatched Atelier S P A C E and tested it out in Battambang. So good was that one, that I decided, ‘Why not?,’ and took Atelier S P A C E to Singapore, Penang, Kuala Lumpur, and Oulu. (Wait, what? No, really. Finland, yeah. I just really, really like that part of the world.)
It’s been a weird, curious and exciting moment of transition and change, for me personally, but I wanted to spring up another popup, Atelier S P A C E | Phnom Penh, before I hit the road again. Atelier S P A C E is a 2-year project, which had begun last P’chum Ben, and will continue for just another year. Before it sunsets, I want to be sure to get to places that most intrigue: the Eastern European countries, for example. And maybe circle back to the Pacific Northwest in the United States, which was where, for six years DK did its biggest and most important work: building a small network of people who are interested in ‘trusting the process’ and designing space for us to play. Recent conversations with JB in Seattle, RS in the Bay Area, and PC and OB (both of whom were guests at ‘N’ Phnom Penh, and that was in 2014, wasn’t tit?, and that was the whole start of all the new thinking… *too much thinking*. I got sorted out, though. In Finland. Quiet. Space. People. Sky.
And yeah. They are here. Still with me, till reading, still caring a little bit I think about this journey of ‘how to get people talking together in safe space that are well-facilitated.’ Do I want to go back to the States and have some kind of dialogue sessions so they can see what’s wrong with silo thinking? Or get them to really see each other, so that we don’t have all the division that we are seeing that’s, hey, always been there, but right now it’s more obvious? A lot of questions. I don’t know, are the answers to most of them. Is the US where I want to go? It depends. It depends on who is curious about having us there. I like to go where I know that things are gonna happen, not just go and see, though there are moments when that’s important, too. But when I want to just go and see, it has to be to a place that’s new. Because then: I’m doing my own process on mysel. Trusting that something will pop out from ‘the soup of not-knowing,’ but showing up for it anyway, and seeing what’s there. The spirit of travel, kind of, sure. But it’s also the way to find breakthroughs: in all sectors of work, in all sectors of personal life, in all dimensions, all 10 or whatever. I could get nerdy. I will save it for those interested in new portals, and only for those people. Selectivity and reduction of the number of channels of engaging with people has been a huge step, for me, in developing these things. These programmes, these salons, and these ideas. The depth of them is becoming more obvious to me when I clarify and check back with some of my oldest confidants. HT AM, who is probably my oldest friend now that I’ve lost touch with the rest. Again: choosing. It’s important. Drift happens. Let’s let it.
The next things
AHEAD ARE WHOLE NEW chapters, for me, and for DK, and for the members of our online communities which have been quietly been in the highest-priority spot for me in the last 12 months. Some people who have been there some of the time are aware, I think, of what it can do and be for them, and I appreciate that. Those who’ve been here longer, I think, are starting to develop more thinking around more things that have more importance to them. Knowing what’s important to you is a huge, huge thing. I think I got on a stage and talked about it for eighteen minutes in front of 500 people. No one knows thatI was pretty much ad-libbing the last 5. Ha ha. An improvisation. On a stage. A play. In real life. That’s it, though, for me. All of these sessions are the same. Just that the stages are smaller, and the invited guests are as much a part of the scripts as the ‘audience’. I dot like passive audiences; I like the engagement that comes from eye contact and back-and-forth and, sure, making it up, partly, as we go. And jazz is like that. And that’s why I like that. So many people I’ve met in the years who’ve shown me how to make jazz more jazzy. Free jazzy. I know, I know. It’s not everyone thing. But so? It’s fun. To me. Oh, yeah: and improv. Also making it up as you go, right? And that’s why I’m into that, too. Probably the whole reason I became friends with BB in a simple way, long time ago. Because: play. Let’s converse. Let’s play?
SHALL WE DO THIS? Have another go at Atelier S P A C E in PP? I think so. Let’s see, anyway. Let’s try this. Let’s begin with salon, about I N T E R N E T. Let’s go with that, see where it leads us, talk together, write and play a kind of conversational music. And then, co-create. This is my thing, where I come in. Make something out of what we learn. Put it into a zine. Share it with you. It’s not that hard, for DK, to do this. We have all the stuff you need if you are a boutique publisher. And now we’re an experiential publisher. So let’s do this? Let’s see. Here’s the details…
COMING AND GOING in Malaysia in 2018. A new thing is starting. A new small circle.
Zinemaking is part of it, but m ore than that, it’s ‘showing up.’ Big thanks to those of you who took part in our popups in KL in both the spring and just this past September, in the series Atelier S P A C E had hosted in an ad hoc style, more or less. But we’re getting less disorganized… if that’s a way to say it. I can’t say that we’re getting more organized. But it’s true we’re getting less disorganized. That I can say.
Many things to follow. (Were you in KL and didn’t get a chance to join us? It’s not that we’re going to do this indefinitely–S P A C E is moving around and changing all the time, and we’re going on the road again soon. But if there’s interest, we make a thing happen. Did you miss our previous stuff in KL? I’m putting things together in a roundup post, here. So that, you know, you can see that it happens. It’s a thing. Thanks to MM for the pics, and more to follow, there on that page, and in the active spaces of our S P A C E forums too.
You know who you are.
See you there.
Meet new people. Make a zine. Share the journey of the creative process over this unique, once-off weekend conversation salon cum real life workshop. We’ll meet three times over the 3-day weekend workshop. Date, time, and place to be shared with those who are selected to take part. We’ll add the final works to our S P A C E || Cambodia collection, which has featured at the Singapore Writers Festival and the Georgetown Readers and Writers Festival, in 2017. Discover more when you apply. Apply here.
NEW THINGS. New beginnings. New frames. New perspectives. New points of view, voices, perspectives, world views, and conversation-starters. New kinds of jam sessions in our intellectual play spaces, which are coming from not books but from us, talking together, writing in S P A C E, in the moment. The moment being now. Our now. This now. The one that is relative to us, all of us, 7 billion and counting, on this planet, in this solar system, in this galaxy, in this universe. So much to talk about. Discovering, every single day, in real life as we amble about the geographies near and far that most intrigue, excite, invite, and challenge us, with our very small circle of curious and open collaborators and co-creators here at DK, so many things. New is what we are interested in. Finding new writers, authors, original thinkers, still-awake-to-possibilities-of-optimistic-outcomes dreamers, responsible social leaders, owners of third places, makers of all kinds, and, all of us, at our hearts, poets and philosophers. Can we get back to the 50 billion years of evolution that are intrinsic within each of us, to explore what we all know, in the ambient space between us? The ‘luminiferous aether,’ remember that old idea? let’s say, I still like that defunct concept, or Jung’s collective unconscious, or the things that Krishnamurthi writes about. He was interetsed in us being better, as a collection, as a species. Not just some of us, but all of us.
There is no end to relationship. There may be the end of a particular relationship, but relationship can never end. To be is to be related. -J Krishnamurthi
LET’S INVESTIGATE, can we?, for a moment, let’s just say four weeks, okay, how far we’ve come since evolving from trilobytes? Can we play in the imaginative spaces that link most handily to the warmest places of the human heart? Can we discover, in the chambers there, where we all want the same things, really (for our kids to be okay, for us to be able to live in a way that lets us be who we really are, with all the daily needs met and then some, with comfort and emotional security and stuff like that, yes: is this resonating?). Design can make things better. I’ve been seeing how, for 10 years at DK and before that in jobs in architecture, when, that is, the studios were really good. But it’s time to design a new social philosophy thats inclusive and extensive and rooted not in words that weren’t even made in a time when we had the new sciences that we have now (quantum physics, multiverse math). Let’s update, can we? Sure… so, let’s talk philosophy. A new philosophy. A philosophy of the moment. Artfully. With respect to one another, with respect ot the whole. DK are inviting people from near and far into our inner circles of conversation. A balance of place, but also, of the ways of thinking that will invite the kind of dialogue that we really need now more than ever: the kind with a center, and not sides (HT M. Angelou, Mark Twain, Jean Rhys, William Isaacs, W. Heisenberg, Robin Davidson).
What is philosophy, though, anyway? In a nutshell, this:
Philosophy is a way of thinking about the world, the universe, and society. It works by asking very basic questions about the nature of human thought, the nature of the universe, and the connections between them. The ideas in philosophy are often general and abstract.
YESTERDAY. S P A C E | Helsinki went out in the world.
HELSINKI. This time, S P A. C E is both a print-edition zine as well as a PDF. But, seriously, a wallop of a PDF, this round. It’s a 30-pager, packed with photos and some creative nonfiction from the summer in Finland. Three months there, all told, to gather and write the feelings and conversations and make some kind of arc out of it. I am really pleased with the way this one turned out.
Why? Writing. Is fun. Relaxing. Coming to the places that are where I want to be, writing about them, sharing what I’ve learned, gathering other people’s voices along the way and co-creating short packed works of hyperlocal creative nonfiction, informed, of course, by local knowledge, experience, and the culture of a place. The work to bring these things into shape is lovely and rewarding and invigorating and hard. And it’s getting more complex and sophisticated, I think, this zinemaking journey—one year, so far. I started Atelier S P A C E over P’chum Ben in Battambang, here in Cambodia. This coming weekend, it’s P’chum Ben again. So that means I’ve got one more year in this 2-year, roving, popup, zinemaking atelier that is getting run mostly out of pocket, with the occasional contribution from ticket sales, zine sales, and, hey, people who just want to buy me a lunch or coffee because they like this idea and can’t think of why anyone would put their own expenses down to make it happen. But for me, it’s obvious. I want to do Atelier S P A C E because I love new people, new input, fresh and original and faraway places that are new to me, and of course, writing, publishing, and sharing. So it hits all the right keys. It took me forever to think up the idea, besides.
So once it was there, it was like, ‘Of course I’m going to do this.’ Battambang was not too terribly far from Phnom Penh, so over four days, completely offline and on my own, I found the story to write the lead piece, ‘Here Comes the Dance,’ which, wow, is really about the Age of Anxiety. I really love S P A C E | Battambang. Probably my best one, but wait, no. Helsinki. No, no. I love Sheffield. Chuffed, still, to have gone there to finish researching the story. And then, there’s Kuala Lumpur: a place that’s becoming home away from home (away from… home?) I’m not sure what this is all going to lead to but I’m excited to share more news, soon, about upcoming Atelier S P A C E programmes abroad. It’s gonna be great, in the words of M, there in Finland, who taught me how to let go of the hard things that relate to grudges and difficulties in getting over yourself in order to show up properly for others, and who, in part, inspired this edition of S P A C E. Massive learning, this trip. The conversations with Alexis Jokela, too. Good craic, as they say in Ireland. In case you were wondering why I have an Irish accent sometimes, just google ‘The Elopement’ and ‘Kismuth Books.’
There you go, then.
For the bigger story.
Kismuth was the prequel, I guess, to the stories ahead, in S P A C E. Creative nonfiction, but in first person, so they were talked about as memoirs. I got all into that whole idea, even though technically it was too soon, in some ways, to write memoir. Someone who wasn’t happy about me publishing anything had said, ‘Who would want to read anything you write?’ Can you believe that? Some people actually hate it when you do the things you really want to do. What did I do? Leave the country.
As always for me, it’s the process of getting lost in order to find center that is inviting me to share some of the stories from ‘the road’ in the series of zines. Curious? Download S P A C E || Helsinki instantly when you order over here.
Enjoy it with a nice cup of chamomile (or, if you prefer, vodka and gingerale) while listening to the track, a mix tape, sort of, Exit Vantaa. Here’s to the journeys, then. The new, the near, the now, and the next.
A zine. Printed, limited edition. Ready to share these with members of S P A C E who pre-order by 29 Sept. Don’t miss the chance to get a printed zine in the mail that tells the story ‘Julia Set’.
JOIN DK and friends at the launch of the zine, ‘S P A C E || Helsinki,’ a creative nonfiction short piece that will be distributed in very limited editions on the day. Your ticket comes with one copy of the zine, whose pages are filled with words and collages DK gathered in real life in Helsinki in June and August, 2018. The zine’s lead story is ‘Julia Set,’ based on a conversation with a mathemetician about possibilites and multiple dimensions, but there is also a more low-key dialogue in ‘Exit Vantaa.’ Find out more when you check out the related blog posts, liket ‘Exit Vantaa,’ DK’s music ‘mix’, at this page, and more is also online about DK’s zines in S P A C E.
Pre-order S P A C E || Helsinki here.
LIFE. STORIES. Multiple, divergent, intersecting, and contradicting pluralities of narratives: the things we are pursuing here are not so much about gathering outcomes and publishing stuff that sounds and looks interesting (but has no content); rather, we want to invite into our innermost circles, in S P A C E, the exact kinds of new and different others who will show us, together, as we get going, in our conversations in the protected-page posts that constitute, as a set, the thing we call S P A C E, well yeah. All of it. Is a thing now. There’s a bulk to this that I can’t deny; a gravitas and a resonance that stays with people. They tell me this. ‘I really enjoyed that exercise you did; it was super relevant at the time, do you remember, you put us in groups, ‘Past,’ ‘Present,’ and ‘Future?’ asked my friend MR, whom I’d met at one of my events in Bangkok and who went on to join DK again at something called ‘16N‘ in that same city, the next year.
(Honestly, we didn’t recall that exercise or think much about what it might have meant to everyone; at the time, we were just hosting, and hosting means you’re talking to people and making sure everyone feels included, that her or his voice counts, that she or he is invited to all the conversations circling about, moving, changing, diving into other spaces, letting that happen.
Of course the afterparty for ‘N’ there had to be at a jazz club: improvising in collage and collaborating with jazZ happens! there, that was also very fun. With both, it’s a jam session: making it up as we go, but also, playing off what we learn, together, from one another. Most importantly, there’s no hierarchy. It’s flat. We’re talking, together, in dialogue. Round tables. Let me tell you a bit more about this idea, of circles. (SN, watching Akira Morita in action one time hosting a meeting, had called it ‘circle time.’ We love circle time, here at DK. Why? Lots of reasons.’)
Dialogues that are really good are the kinds ‘with a center, and not sides,’ as William Isaacs, had put it in his book, Dialogue. How lucky I am to have been able to reach out directly to Isaacs, ahead of my conversation salon series, ‘Modern Sikkim: What does it mean to be Sikkimese?’ which had happened in Gangtok, Sikkim–a part of India that my relatives in Delhi aren’t too familiar with outside of an image of ‘the snowy mountains’. Well, wow. There is of course Kanchenjunga, but before I go marveling about the miracles of the Himalaya, and daydreaming about going back there in November (yes: mark it! Atelier S P A C E || Gangtok is in the works), well, yeah, so what was I saying? Oh! This: I’m lucky, very, I could ask William Isaacs directly, over email, in 2013, thinking hard about the design of Modern Sikkim and how to collaborate well and whom I should contact to make a go of it and what we would do in the spaces-to-become, well, yeah. How I could make such a conversation salon series work well was important to me. Researching that. Learning what to do in the instance that someone tried to be overbearing (this happens a lot, in societies where there are hierarchies established from social class, economic status, or hey, let’s be real, male and female gender roles), all that normal stuff you have to figure in, and be ready to take on, when it does hit you, all that. And I remember the email coming back. What a good feeling, to get a note from the internet to say, Just do what you’re doing and here’s some more stuff to think about, more or less. Well. What a nice thing to feel reassured that no one knows what’s on the way, not ever, not fully, but that allowing things to pop up by hosting a space that is inviting, safe, comfortable, relaxing, and readied for the things-that-might-happen, well, that’s the work. And the art. So it began. A journey into making more and better such space, or, as I call it now, S P A C E. I’m the architect of it; we follow a checklist, it has 7 points, to do this in a way that works, in DK’s style. Which is what? Well, you can read my personal artist statement thingy at this website, if you’re curious about what interests me about gathering people in these ways. ‘I want people to relax. To feel air, space, and comfort.’ Find it in context at dipikakohli.com.
But in the meantime, there’s this.
Philosophy of the moment
GETTING SET. For our first-ever online salon, ‘Philosophy of the Moment.’ In which we’re going to share all of the best learnings and gathered notes from our decades-long pursuit of the big questions, ‘What are we doing here? What does it mean? What is ‘good’? What makes it remarkable? What does a meaningful life look like? How can I make changes so that I can better enjoy the life I have? What does it mean to love? How does it feel to let go? Where are the important notes to carry forward? What kind of legacy do I want to leave? Who am I? Who am I, apart from you? What is my role in society? How am I doing, and where I am going, and does it mean much to consider these questions, and besides, what is ‘time?”‘ What’s this all about? Find out.
NEW THINGS. Starting again. In S P A C E. In very small circles. Trusting the process and enjoying the adventure, creating the design for hosting and engaging some of us, some of us who are still curious, still open to the possibility of being changed by what we hear, and still ready to learn, from any chance encounter: as did the people I met at the N. Bohr Institute in Copenhagen when on a visit there, or in the corners of philosophy classes after the teachers left and texts were closed in my high school summer at Governor’s School East in Laurinburg NC, or in the empty moments just being on the edges of the world, for all the edges are at the edge, are they not?, in Nagarkot, Manali, Kyoto, Berlin, wistful piazzas in Bologna, the drone and hum and boisterousness of the throng of the West Village in 1990s New York, and more, and, other, and, more recently, in S P A C E. Here’s to the journeys, the new, the near, and the next. Ready for the 8 Oct thing. Ready, set.
The opposite of a profound truth may be another profound truth. —N. Bohr
I’VE JUST ARRIVED. It’s twenty to one. A man in a nice cotton blue suit-jacket, not quite a suit, mind, but a suit-like thing, was hanging around momentarily. Ostensibly waiting for his coffee to be made, fresh for a take-away (a pet peeve of mine, personally, the take-away cup). But there comes a woman. Equally well put-together. Both wear light cotton pants, hers are white, his are a little less white, but still, nicely offset by the blue. I think I mentioned the blue already. Yes, yes I did. I think I was thinking about the color emerald green… yesterday… I was thinking about a certain otherworldly Northern Europe color palette, a tendency towards the muted colors. Yes, I like those, too. Had gone through a phase of that. Bluegreys. Seattle. One of my homes. Another one is turning out to be Kuala Lumpur. Keep coming back here to host things, it feels like. And I love the atmosphere, the color, the texture, the city vibe. And all this great teh halia, too. See stuff DK and friends have hosted here, at this page, DesignKompany.com/Malaysia. (HT TS: ‘Don’t ask me where I’m from, ask me where I’m local.’)
Beyond the edge of the world
SEATTLE. I remember. A lot of rain fell, and then, the cloudburst came, in the form of ‘The Dive,’ (Kismuth Books // 2012), which I realize I must have talked about a lot, in many places, but in short fragments, a lot of things come in short fragments, don’t they? And then you go into the quiet zones, and stay there. Perhaps too long. Because when you forget how to speak up, speak forward, speak without muting your voice too terribly much for fear you’ll be chastised, chided, critiqued, questioned, challenged, humiliated, or otherwise made to feel bad about the fact that you are you, and you alone, unique as DNA, then being purposeful and insistent in holding out and sharing with others the very you that is you becomes, well… hard. Because you’re worried. Anxious. Uncomfortable. It’s uncomfortable to be the very you that is you. Of course it is. But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t—it’s okay and it’s easy to say and words are cheap; sometimes they are, of course at other times they are very exquisite, not cheap at all, not cheap… but then there comes his coffee.
One now. Almost the time for the office workers to come in. I’m taking up two tables. I better collate this stuff. Maybe get going. Too many people; it’s uncomfortable. I might say I’ve become more Finnish, in this regard, but I think it was always there, and underscored when I had lived in Seattle. A tendency towards being more alone, than with others. Wanting a lot of room around me. Not liking the oppressiveness of being in the airspace of too many people in too small a room. It’s happening. I’m starting to feel it. Suffocation. But, wait. It’s not that bad. It’s still Malaysia. It’s still developed. There isn’t going to be a lot of noise and there won’t be dust or dirt. The people will shuffle in, and as quickly, shuffle out. They will. They are in motion. They are on the clock. Time. Time is a thing, for some people. I get it. They have to go punch in, punch out. Me? What am I? Slowing down. Slowing in the moment. But maybe this is the wrong environment for that. I’m wishing I could be in Melakka, too. I was there. I liked it there. The weekdays are a better time to be there. But I’m here, preparing for Phnom Penh. Sounds odd, writing that. Haven’t I tried, many times, to ‘move on’ from there? But… the question is a real one, and smacks and smarts: to where? Where is the next home? It’s a big, open field, and you can go in any direction. Instead of getting lost in the amorphous not-knowing, though, I’m learning to embrace it. The field is one of my homes, too. Like the road. And North Carolina. And Seattle. And, and…. Phnom Penh. Four years is a long time to be parked there. Four years, writing nothing much, really, except for, oh yeah, Breakfast in Cambodia. A two-year anniversary of that little book just passed. I’m happy about this. I can try again, for something different. Maybe finally finish ‘Socheata’s Comb.’
Back to KL. Back to right now.
Real life is the stage
I AM READYING to make a move. Or maybe not. If they leave, I’ll stay. If they stay, I’ll leave. She is asking him something. He is saying something else. They are acquainted. They talk about weathers. Not the hurricanes, like I am doing in emails with people in North Carolina, because of the flooding in the east of that state, but about… well, the sun and Melbourne and smalltalk. Smalltalk is nice, has its place, at times. No? Of course it does. Work colleagues, maybe. I try to assess. They are cordial. Do they work in some kind of fashion retail outlet? Perhaps they are middle managers. Perhaps, perhaps.
My mind makes up stories. Connects dots that aren’t quite there, but might appear to be in places if, after some amount of time observing the stage of real life, always the most exciting, could become rather realistic. Reality. The strangest sort of fiction. Or is fiction real? I don’t know. What am I talking about? These are the kinds of things that gather momentum here, when it is not yet lunch rush and the caffeine is starting to find its jolt. The jolt that makes the story. The sentences place themselves, one in front of the other. I go back to writing, perhaps. The man leaves, in a hurry; it is abrupt. She is not worried. She is not even moved. She barely acknowledged him, anyway, I noticed, at the start. No one was trying too hard to start talking. That’s okay. That’s fine. You don’t have to talk all the time. Gosh, if I didn’t learn that in Finland. She was on her phone. So was he. Both of them distracting themselves or pretending to. Looking at things. Texts and so on. He had tried to make eye contact. That is a thing unknown to some of the younger ones. They may dress impeccably, but they don’t notice the noticing. And that’s where the breakdown begins, isn’t it? Of communicating from ap lace that’s honest, real, raw, and unfiltered. Facades get in the way of relating. And I guess that’s why, for the first time in a long time, I’m okay writing again, in first person. More on the way. More to share. More, in the form of short books, long books, poems, novellas, plays. And, best of all, co-creations.
Listening in to other people’s conversations… stories of: moneymaking plans, insurance, school and work, weather banter, international transit, general exchanges on the exchange of services and goods, rubber, fear of other, mistrust, putting up with things, and, of course, celebrating a new government, with an optimism. The kind that says, ‘Some glimmer of things to come shan’t be smothered, now.’ That’s the feeling, this go around, here in Kuala Lumpur.
Back in November, for this.
Join S P A C E and be part of the international, asynchronous forums and online salons from October. (Which is when we begin again with a select set of candidates from around the world newly discovered, for the salon, ‘Philosophy of the Moment.’) Scholarships available. Application required. Learn more here.
A party. A popup art installation. A conversation, or a set of them, in something we like to call S P A C E. This time, DK and friends are gathering for an informal party to share with new guests the feeling of going into the unknown, looking around, finding a story, and sharing it out. We’re celebrating zines and zine culture.
We’re connecting with people we know already, and inviting new acquaintances to join us. DK makes Connecting and interconnecting you. A remarkable, once-off event lies ahead–the question is, will you experience it? Take the S P A C E challenge. Meet us in real life for a special event like no other on the 2F of FEEKA. Explore, experience, connect, and discover. That’s what we’re doing, at 15 September’s party ‘Art of the Z I N E.’
Zines. Conversation. Real life.
Art of the Z I N E
A popup art installation
“ZINES” adalah koleksi artikel pendek yang disebarkan dengan quantiti yang kecil. Dalam era dimana berita internet yang boleh mengelirukan dan tidak benar #fakenews, “Zines” boleh membawa gambar dan kata-kata yang benar dan tidak ditapis. “Zines” juga membolehkan kita menyampaikan pendapat dan cerita antara satu sama lain.
FEEKA Coffee Roasters
19 Jalan Mesui
Kuala Lumpur 50200
Saturday, 15 September
About Dipika Kohli
This event will be hosted by our founder and creative director, Dipika Kohli. She is an author and artist. She was an editor for newspapers in southwest Ireland and in Seattle, WA USA. Dipika was a speaker at TEDx (watch) and a guest author interviewed live on NPR (listen). Lately, she’s hosting Atelier S P A C E to bring people who love to write, talk together, and learn new things into conversation salons and workshops in which they can co-create short, 8-page zines. Discover the collection, S P A C E, at http://designkompany.com/space-the-zine.
** Special thanks to KJoe Wong for his help on the Malay descriptions.
Also to Alex Anthony at Feeka for co-hosting Atelier S P A C E | KL events with us.
IN THIS POST, I will share with you some of the current thinking behind ‘At rest while in motion,’ but also, walk you through the actual in-the-moment journey of how one goes about trying to figure out the vague answer to the superlative question, ‘What am I doing?’
This last because it is a question that pops up a lot in the conversations I have with people in a very short space of time: ‘DK, tell me what to do now. You seem to have things figured out.’ Er. Hardly.
Those who know me personally know that I’m hardly well put-together; behind-the-scenes, I am a bundle of bits of paper, slips of notebooks that go in boxes, some of which I’ve lost track of, and all of which are existing in perhaps dusty, surely disquiet collections in patches, tucked away in the nooks and apartment closets, houses and spare rooms of very nice people (and sometimes relatives, wow), who take them in and hold them for me, indefinitely, until it is time to revisit with the old material and see how it fits with the new.
I guess I have something figured out, though, if I’m honest about it. Since 2013 I’ve been ‘on the road, indefinitely, with no fixed income, plans, or savings.’ And DK started in 1994, and then became an LLC in 2005, which was the last time I had a 9-6 day job. So, what does that mean? Well, when it comes to answering one question I think I have a thing or two to say. The question being, ‘How to take a step out, when you’ve no idea where you are going…’ Mmm-hmm. Story. Of my life.
But wait. I’m getting off on some random tangent. Let me talk about the creative process. Let me start with material.
MATERIAL IS THE FIRST thing that I am looking at, right now, when I am considering the first thing to do now that I am in one spot, for a time, with the bookings made through at least the end of the weekend, which, in our new state of ‘nomadic drift’, which isn’t new at all, really, but this time, there really are no flats or monthly rentals to contend with nor people who are there to say hello to every day, but rather, the flux. The flow. The movement. I like this, but I also have a lot of stuff with me. Stuff that moves in packs with me; the suitcases are not as heavy as they were in 2013 (left one in Delhi, left one in Bangkok), but they still are there. Taking up room. What to do with all this material? What to keep, what to let go? There are snippets from the deep past, somewhere in a box in Cambodia, there are things from even further back, well before that, art show leftovers in rolls in Raleigh-Durham. I always wondered what I would do with all that stuff. Stuff. So much of it. Might explain why somewhere along the way, I switched from doing print work to going digital only. This is coming around again to the world of somewhat limited edition and very custom, very one-of-a-kind printed stuff, but again, it’s stuff, and that means, ‘What do I do with this?’ It’s been neat sending some things off in the postal service, through the S P A C E || Finland page in our online store. It’s been nice to share things with people in real life, people I’ve just met, people who say, ‘Those are nice. Wait, are you selling them? Great. How much? Okay, that’s fair. I’ll take one of those.’ It’s like giving away kittens, I think. You have a lot of offspring and you don’t know where they’ll go; but you don’t want to just leave them around. You want to find them good homes. And that’s what’s happening. The rest?… the rest is with me. I’ve got an extra bag now. It’s got Moomintroll on it. After all, this was the summer of stuff I made in Finland. But it’s also… good material. For zining. On into the next. I like it when bits and pieces from the last place make their way into the current works. And so, now, I should talk a bit about the creative process.
‘Trust the process’
FOR THE FIRST TEN years of DK, I would always start with a few things with every new client. First, I’d ask for a book recommendation: ‘What book sums the story of you? I’ll go and read it.’ Then, I’d ask for them to have a look at this slideshare, because it’s really quite simple to read through and puts a lot of stuff in perspective. Lastly, I’d ask them to ‘trust the process.’ To trust me, really, to guide the way towards some kind of breakthrough.
That’s not an easy thing to sign up for, but sign up a handful of people did, each year from 2004 until now, which means that’s why DK is still here, existing, making space and now S P A C E (online magazine) and Atelier S P A C E to gather us for short-run weeklong or four-week-long stints of time so as to delve into the exact style of the foray into the creative process that DK had delivered to clients in Seattle, Raleigh-Durham NC, and more recently, in Phnom Penh.
Because I myself am in the midst of a design overhaul here at DK, not unusual because we like to reinvent quite a lot around here, well, I’m taking stock of the materials gathered and looking ahead to 2019. Where shall we take things with DK? Who wants to collaborate with us, who wants to connect in S P A C E? Does S P A C E want to become something different from what it is, right now? Or is it working, as it is? Even in very small circles (which is my personal preference), there are moments of real and true connexion, you can feel it, it’s not just me saying that, and then we get philosophical and talk life and meaning and sometimes about life plans but not in the usual terms, more in… the kinds of words that one allows oneself ot speak when she or he feels at ease. I remember this from a past life, a longago summer, this wild and crazy time of just being, just hanging out, with friends. Before the era of justifying your existence through the use of social media channels, there was just us being around each other talking late into the night maybe with some music going in the background or someone with a guitar, but always, always, always, there was that ease and comfort when you felt like you could just hang out, just chill, just be around people, just be. A long time ago, yes, that I felt that was the norm. Now, what happened? We are distracted and I forget to get back to the work of making S P A C E. At the Form/Space Atelier show I was invited to put together in Seattle (thanks again PP), I remember writing the artist statement and saying something about BTFL SIMPL. Which was: ‘I want people to relax. To feel air, space and comfort.’ That has not changed.
S P A C E for play. S P A C E for conversation. S P A C E for slowing down. S P A C E for the easygoing ‘third place.’ There is so much to talk about. That’s because… there’s so much material. The work now is to sift through all of this and see what makes sense to keep, what to let go. Editing is this. Editing is being aware of the thread that makes the necklace, and letting the string sing while the gems and pearls add to the vocals, rather than distract and detract. The vocals matter. The vocals. Erm. Ah. I sound like DK is some kind of a band. I talk a lot about jam sessions. I talk about jazz. Chords. I guess, in a way, I’m kind of the vocals around here. I’m looking for the baseline, the guitar, the horns, someone bring a triangle, and whatever else you’ve got. Come out and play with us, with the people who are here and ready. Jazzy, light. It’s okay. I don’t have to overthink this. I don’ have to intellectualize. Either you get it, and you want to try it, or you don’t.
And that’s fine. Because, like ES had put it once, it’s not for everyone.
And like RKP had said, ‘Find the art and magic.’
Art of not knowing
WHERE IS NEXT? I HAVE NO IDEA.
And that’s okay.
It’s okay to say, ‘I don’t know.’ Just ask N. Bohr (you’ll have to go to Copenhagen and find his grave at Assistens). But for the moment, at the top of the journey of a parabola upon which a ball is tossed upward, there is a spot where the velocity is zero. That means, we’re at rest. That we’ve stopped moving. For that moment, you have the view. The vista, the zenith. Take it all in; look around. See what’s what. But don’t try to put meanings to things that you’re looking back on, and don’t investigate too deeply into what’s next. Because the moment is here, is now. And we are at zero velocity.
Well, from the near-distance view, I see on the horizon: Phnom Penh. For Atelier S P A C E || Phnom Penh.
But… the zenith. The quiet in the height. That’s… to me… that’s beautiful.
That’s where the art begins. Noticing.
Can you dig it?
Comments open, for a bit.