Atelier S P A C E is DK’s popup, zinemaking on-the-spot workshop. The idea is to gather a handful of people to meet and cocreate a short publication. A zine.
So far, DK has hosted Atelier S P A C E in: Battambang, Singapore, Penang, KL, and a few smaller cities in Malaysia. Zines from Atelier S P A C E have appeared at writers festivals in Singapore and Georgetown Penang, so far, and more appearances are set for a Finland tour in the summer.
Be a part of the international conversation.
For the full five-day programme in Bangkok, it is THB 8000.
Register by 5 March to confirm your spot. Get tickets here. ✨
A POPUP CONVERSATION salon, with snippets from our 2014-2017 highlights from the ezine, S P A C E. We will be hosting this in real life at a venue in Bangkok to be shared with registered guests only. Free with RSVP. To RSVP, contact DK through the form here.
DISCOVER YOUR SELF. Sounds crazy, right? You know yourself. Well, do you? In this era where layer after layer of facades keep us from truly relating to others, maybe it gets confusing. It’s a good time to take stock and reflect on who it is you are, under all of that. No cameras, no phones to distract, no documenting… That’s how we will host this very small-scale, intimate salon at the cozy Chong Nonsi venue pictured here. No need to bring anything. All materials will be provided. Hosted by Dipika Kohli. Which means you’ll get activities to facilitate insight-making moments through reflective writing. And a conversation party with other people taking part. No more than 8 seats for this.
Last seen at Neilson Hays Library in 2014, one guest had this to say about SELF…
‘Overcome my fear of writing’
I AM WRITING because I wanted to thank you all for sharing ideas and memoirs, I am very much impressed and really enjoyed the workshop [SELF]. I’ve been working on my writing, and finished one short story which I feel so happy after I finished writing it (it’s in Thai.) I’m working on its English version pretty soon and will send to you all for the feedback. Bottom line is I’m happy to let you know that I’ve somehow overcome my fear of writing, though there’re times when I got stuck with the stories, get distracted, or feel like it’s not good enough – if it was before, I was just going to give up. Now, I feel it challenged me and I find writing more enjoyable. Most importantly, I feel like my writing is getting better too. —J. Lee, Bangkok, 2014
In sum, SELF is a workshop that, intriguingly, also doubles as a conversation party. Meet people interested in exploring, through writing. Find your theme. Peel back the layers. Put your phone away, in a box. (Yes, really). And show up for yourself, for the others, and for a conversation in just under 3 hours that very well could change the course of your year. Are you on for the challenge? Register here.
Disclaimer: If giant life-changing steps follow this workshop, we are not responsible for the people in your life who get mad at us! This has happened.
THERE COMES A TIME IN EVERY LIFE where we face a crossroads.
You know when you’re there. It’s a big deal, this noticing of the moment of having to make a very significant choice. Which way will you go?
Who are you, and why are you doing this? The guest had asked.
Sincere question, and yet, I couldn’t find a way to answer honestly, not quite. I mean, I had some ideas about what ‘N’ was about when I first hosted it, here in Cambodia’s Phnom Penh. I got clearer when I did this again in Bangkok. The goals for ‘N’ Phnom Penh: NORMALITY and ‘N’ Bangkok: NOW were, I think, more about making something interesting actually happen. Rather than, you know, sit around and imagine how much better everythign could be and complain that there is no good art anymore, and why is that, and the banal nature of everything that gets popular on YouTube (a woman I had asked on twitter about why her post went viral said she thought it was because there was an element of ‘hating on’ someone else, that those were the posts that went around quickly, and so, she was writing more of those kinds, to get attention, even though, she admitted to me, she really felt like her other works were better.) Quality, then. A space for something magical to happen. What does tat mean? It’s different for everyone.
But I think, really, when asked if there is a point or a purpose to gathering people in 16 cities around the world, cities which have an ‘N’ in them (two ‘N’s is better, of course), to converge with 16 strangers to talk about a topic that starts with an ‘N’ is that, really, well, these are quite arbitrary constraints, no?, and that, in fact, there is no point.
Let me reiterate..
The point is this: there is no point.
Something I learned from Man and Superman, last summer in London at the National Theater. Sitting in the audience in a place I had booked two days prior, while home and searching the internet for people to invite to ‘N’ in that part of the world and discovering, well, look at this, it’s Ralph Fiennes acting on stage, and this is Bernard Shaw, and, well, I simply must… attend this.
Is there a point?
That’s what they said.
That’s what they said, right there, on that big stage. The world of theater is so brilliant, sometimes I fall in love with it, and it’s very good to keep going to things. I’m not the type to just up and go to foreign countries on account of plays happening, not usually, in fact this was a lark, but I am so glad I did. Because I care about learning, and people, and connection, and Art. Capital ‘a’ Art, that is. The kind that you can experience over time, across distance. I don’t think the same feeling would have emerged if I was reading it, but I did find it on Google books and got a few of the lines that most moved me. One of them of course, and I’m paraphrasing because the best bits that you feel when you hear them may not fit the agendas of those who post online with quotes that back up their own viewpoints (it’s really real, isn’t it? Bias.) But my own bias is this. I believe that the purpose of living is to live in the moment, the unadorned, unattached, unexpecting right here and now. And ‘N’, I think, is about onceness, chance conversations and connection happening in a closed, bounded space where someone (that would be me) is ‘holding the space’ for people so that they feel safe, included, welcome, invited, warm, and, if this goes well, and I think it has, judging from the past experiences with 32 people I didn’t know before in BKK and here in Phnom Penh is that, yes, that is valuable. Yes, people want converastions that go beyond the usual variety of ‘paid or laid’ agenda. I know! I’m saying that. Out loud. Here. I want to talk to people who want to talk to me, about the big things, the art the culture the light the space the beauty the moment the magic. The magic! It’s very exciting when we can discover one another, and arbitrary constraints are a big part of design projects. So the brief I made for myself went as such: Find 16 people in 16 cities. The people won’t know each other. They will show up for a ‘big blind date,’ they will have decided a date together, collaboratively, and they will do this by making a commitment first (in this case, purchasing a ticket). Such a commitment makes it easier to believe that it will happen. I have made a promise to the guests who have registered. 16 people. In one moment. To meet and talk, together, about NOTEWORTHINESS. That’s the London one. The Copenhagen one is about NEARNESS. Hoping that the dates for both will be kind of close enough together that I can just make one big trip there and go to both places, so that, you know. Airline tickets. Time.
Here’s another one, from Man and Superman:
‘This is the true joy in life, the being used for a purpose recognized by yourself as a mighty one; the being thoroughly worn out before you are thrown on the scrap heap; the being a force of Nature instead of a feverish selfish little clod of ailments and grievances complaining that the world will not devote itself to making you happy.’
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?’
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.
THE COOL THING ABOUT ‘N’ BANGKOK was that, up until right before, and even after the start, I wasn’t sure if everyone would be there. That’s partly because a few of the guests I had just met, and one of them, earlier that day. It was a sort of a hunch: for true spontaneous invitation, for the real and authentic practice of our theme for BKK, which was NOW, I’d need to simply go to the city and discover the last four guests in person, in real time, on the spot, and even on the day of. Why not? Thank goodness for CM, who came in to do that short, lovely improvisational piece that wasn’t what, I think, he had intended, but whom, I think, enjoyed the playfulness of ‘N’ BKK: NOW. I, for sure, did.
Since we had a short series, and since ‘N’ is designed that way and can’t quite happen in the same configuration (exactly 16 people, exactly once per city) again, I thought, why not invite a few who want to keep talking to an afterparty? A free one. It was, it so happened, to be this place that I’d been thinking about using as a venue for ‘N’, but which was small, too small for our intentions, when I’d gone there in person to suss it out. So I thought, since I’d been there, and liked it, and it had that vibe for being fun, it might be cool to do a small get-together with whomever would like to be part of Part 2, which was informal and collage and bricolage live session, with me and a few others making pieces together and taping them up on the window. At jazZ happens! It’s such a nice spot, and if you’re in Bangkok, I recommend a visit. If you’re into this kind of thing. Local, low-key, off the touristic scene, and very youthful, really, what with the college right next to it.
That was fun.
There was a Part 3, too, that was a few of us peeling off from this spot, finding a spot to talk some more not far from there, where it was easier to sit and hear each other and keep the conversations flowing since there wasn’t a lot of noise. So that was, unexpectedly, a highlight of the event, which really wasn’t the event itself, which of course was also bright and had its own sparkle, because ‘N’ is made for that, it’s designed for the magic moment to happen within and it happened there, and people wanted to go to another one, in another city, but no. ‘N’ is just once for the people it’s for. And in the whole world, there will be 16N in 16 cities. And that means, just 256. A finite number. I’m working my way towards inviting them, slowly slowly slowly. It may take a decade before I get to the last one, ‘N’ New York. But I know what the theme will be.
And why New York? That is where I started.
T. S. Eliot: ‘The end of all our journeying will be to arrive at the place where we began, and to know it for the first time.’
Apart from RM‘s shop, I didn’t see any art. More about timelessness, when I start to make the invitations for ‘N’ NY.
‘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.
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?
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?
Beautiful, interesting game. Cards are lovely, they have all these intriguing hierarchies, so it’s like playing spades, but in a foreign language. Actually it was a foreign language. This was in French. I don’t know what’s happening when things are in French. Depictions of royalty, maybe?
And a lot of other things, some of them made sense, because I’m a big fan of spades and cards in general and wanted to learn this, but much of it was over my head, so I had to excuse myself as the sole beginner and head for the exit before people got annoyed. Then, I got on the train again.
The first time I’d been on the train that evening I’d met a Jehovah’s witness who works with deaf people and knows sign language, which he told me is different, a little, in every country. And then we got to talking about how to ‘say’ the names of cities in sign language. Bangkok is this, he said. London is this. ‘What’s Sheffield?’ I immediately wanted to know, owing to a twenty-year fascination with that city. He crossed his index fingers and started sawing. ‘Knives. Sheffield is famous for knives and metalworks, so, this.’
Intrigued, I asked what New York is. I totally didn’t get that sign. He didn’t either, it’s just what it was. You get to meet people and you learn how to sign their cities. It’s like a separate code, and we talked about code and languages of programming, and then it was my stop and I had to go to this card game. Which I’d thought, mistakenly!, would be a fortune-telling thing. So I just blurted out, ‘You’re gonna tell me I’m gonna DIE!’ And they all were like, ‘Um. Did you read the blurb?’ And I was like, ‘No.’ And: ‘The first line is that you know, it’s not a fortune telling thing.’ ‘So you’re gonna tell me I’m gonna LIVE!’ And we were off into smalltalk and the land of inconsequential gettingtoknowyous which obviously have to happen before you can talk, oh, particle physics and the latest nobel prizery for neutrino oscillation.
Before this particular day, on the way to the next place, before that, on the way to this one, there were other conversations. I mean, there was that guy from Sweden who talked to me good-naturedly in that accent that reminds me in every way of a close friend from that country. ‘Oh, my shoes are from Sweden!’ I said. They are, actually, that’s a true story. I needed some good sturdy shoes because I walk a lot, so I got these clogs. Anyway, I also met a pole dancing freelance writer who shared her lunch table with me at a mall, and then, we got to talking about relationships! (always comes up, not quite sure why). I also talked to someone whom I bumped into the next day, and that was interesting but not really, because you know, some people really want to meet in a regular, networking-festival sort of way.
They want to talk over some hoity-toity buffet, and wear their ties and act cool and have business cards. Which now reminds me of what a guest of a recent event in Phnom Penh said about those kinds of events, which we go to but you know, we all know nothing interesting happens after that. I feel like I spent way, way too much time in these sorts of settings when, in fact, I really rather would have just bumped into someone on the street. Like, back in the 1990s, that one lad from Sheffield. I’ve been talking about Sheffield a lot because I still remember that conversation we had. It was really, really good. It was the kind of conversation that even if you’re completely different from someone, you can still talk together and even enjoy the variation. Which, I think, I have a hunch, is part of what ‘N’ is wanting to make space for.
Celebrate the differentnesses
HONORING DIVERGENT VIEWPOINTS. Unpopular, in modern Western thought. But today I got a challenge to do more of this. This is what my morning conversation was with another person, a lovely person, whom I’ve met here in Bangkok, this time much less randomly, because you know, I have been talking like hell online with people in BKK ahead of ‘N’ which is coming up soon, which is about gathering people who never would have met in ONE moment of conversation, and so, some people won’t be in town but were interested enough to ask me the kinds of questions that made me want to meet them and talk more, in real life, offline, you know? Really great to do that.
They say when you do a kickstarter—and I kind of picture ‘N’ like a mini-kickstarter, in a way—they say when you do it, you find out very quickly who your true people are. True in the sense of, like, this person’s solid. This person gets me. So many times we are distracted by people who don’t—and we’re distracted by something that’s our own preconceptions of who they are, based on say, looks, or their job, or their impression they left at you at that networking-festival, you with your wine glass that’s too expensive for the taste, and you’re like, ‘Um.’
Maybe I can say all this because I’ve just had some vegetables. Yesterday started out okay, I had the complimentary breakfast of scrambled eggs and toast, coffee. But the rest of the day was just more coffee, chocolate, an almond tart, a shot of whiskey, and a soda water.
Better to run into people and connect with people who maybe get it that openness and readiness to try things is more like it. You know what else? I’m trying to do that, myself. I’m trying to get into the space of going where I’m not comfortable, and that started with the rooftop game of tarot. Thanks, Bangkok and randomness and internet, for helping me start this party. —AS
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—
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