‘But are strangers REALLY that interesting?’

'N' Phnom Penh  // APRIL 2015SO WE WERE SAYING ALL THIS, and then I took a deep breath, and it felt like the Dream again and also reading Debord, and I looked at her and said, ‘Thank you for the great conversation! I really learned a lot.’

‘So did I!’ she said. And then, there it was. The answer to her question, the title of this section. Are the strangers you meet REALLY that interesting?

‘Yes!’ I cried. ‘See??!’

We laughed. Then she said, ‘I knew you were gonna say that.’

'N' Phnom Penh // APRIL 2015
‘N’ Phnom Penh happened at NUK Cafe. Now inviting guests for ‘N’ in Bangkok, London, and Copenhagen.

I TOLD HER the truth. I was a little dejected. Another ‘No’ for Bangkok ‘N’.

Slow going, this. Asking 16 strangers to get tickets for something they’ve never heard of, that asks them to pick a date together, that comes from ‘the internet.’

It works like this: 16 people, on their own paths, converge ONCE for a conversation about a theme that starts with ‘N.’ In a venue that has an ‘N’. In a city with an ‘N,’ too.

16 people x 16 cities.

Being interviewed about ‘N’ the concept

I MET A FRENCHWOMAN on her way home. She was fascinated with ‘N’, but she was also skeptical. ‘Pessimistic,’ she said. But she had me, when she asked a terrific barrage of questions. She is in marketing.

It went something like this.

You need a ‘speech.’

DK: A speech? No, no, that sounds like… no. this is just… This is just what I’m doing! ‘N’ is the thing I need to do! I don’t know. Oh, you’re saying I’m not being clear about what it is. About how to make it accessible? Oh, that. Yeah. I’ve been criticized for this. It’s kind of like jazz or esoteric theater, isn’t it? You know, I don’t want to be like that, though, even though I think jazz and esoteric theater could be messaged in a better way so more people see how cool it is to go out into the weird space of improvisation or just thinking deeply and connecting lots of threads in a thoughtful, artful way. Not like Mashable, you know? Anyway. I realize, you’re right: it’s about how well have I communicated what I’m offering, what I’m making, why I care about it, and why I’m inviting people. Okay. Hit me.

What’s in it for you?

DK: Connection. Just once. Nothing hard. Outside of work and family. Connection, yeah. I was in reporting and news for four years as a staff writer. And before that, I did a lot of independent traveling, on my own dime, from savings from jobs in architecture, cafes, the usual gamut of oddball things that one does if one is in their young years and learning about the world. And I found from all this learning that there is only ONE thing that really turns me on. Great dialogue. It doesn’t have to be smart, or overeducated, or labeled something. It just has to be GOOD. And you can design for that. You really, really can. I have a seven-point checklist now, that I developed when I met some of the greatest people who make you feel, quite quickly, at ease. So I took what I learned from all the conversations of my life and made ‘N.’

Related: Some years ago, this idea was foreshadowed in Ireland, in our 2003 short video, ‘Teddy O’Neill.” Watch it here >

Because the magic happens in the MOMENT, and it’s not about being prepared for it, or looking for ‘a website,’ or an app, or a ‘perfect person.’ It’s about right there, right now. Eye contact. Being in the same place at the same time. Sheer chance. For me, making that happen simultaneously for 16 people is a real achievement. It’s way more interesting to me than sitting about writing or drawing and trying to pitch my work to loads of people in the hope of ‘being published.’ This is being published, this blog, right here. You’re reading. If you weren’t reading, I wouldn’t be writing.

And it’s only because there is a RECEPTION that anything meaningful really happens. It’s only because the SENDER has a RECEIVER, and they are locked in a conversation that’s timeless and wordless because it hits on a sensation that only they can know. I know, it’s really big stuff here, what I’m talking about. I call this moment of reception ART. Everything else, when ‘artists’ go around the world talking about themselves but not caring who’s listening so long as the room is full, well, everything else is just public masturbation.

Why do you do this?

DK: Make space. For real. In a short, designed block (a volume?), and not get overwhelmed with the work of human contact. I know, it sounds crazy psychology kookiness. But sure, Carl Jung’s Man and His Symbols informs this. So does Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance. So does ‘Basic Writings’ by Heidegger, if you want to know, and all those guys who figured out that when you change the way you look at things on a quantum level, the things you look at change.

How do you choose whom to invite?

DK: Gut feeling. I’m looking for people who are: Open. Making. Doing. Sharing. Yet the invitation process is designed to let people self-select.

What do people need this for?

DK: The ones who balk at this are the ones who need it the most. But of course, I can’t say that. The reason people need this is because we have to get out of our heads sometimes, our usualness, to find out what’s really interesting. To go to the edge and see what’s there, and sometimes that’s just not what people want to do. One person put it this way: ‘I’m not ready to emerge a butterfly.’ Fair enough. But if you want to realize your fullest self, you have to push yourself to the edge, and break it.

But are the strangers you meet REALLY that interesting?

DK: EVERYONE is interesting.

Concept of ‘N’: One moment can change the vector of your life forever

AS I WAS packing my things and taking leave of this lovely new acquaintance yesterday afternoon, I was marveling at how the conversation lasted two hours. She is probably on a plane right now. She and I will possibly meet again but it is going to take a lot of coordinating so it’s not totally one hundred percent guaranteed.

Still, we had a connection. We talked about life, and what people really crave and how we just want to talk, and be heard, and then she told me about the meaning of someone she knows’ tattoo, and drew it for me in my notebook, and we talked about that. Action. Dialogue. Things happening. Things having mattered.

Confirming the reality of our own existence and its worth because we had eye contact, or if the SENDER isn’t alive anymore, (Guy Debord’s book Society of the Spectacle popped out of my bag during this conversation), then you can still have that CONNECTION even through temporal space. I told her about the red dress I got at a boutique right after seeing Dali’s Dream. The shopkeeper made a comment about something that she saw in me, (and I can share that, if I ever meet you in real life.) I stopped blogging at this site about my personal stuff because I realized it wasn’t being RECEIVED in a way that let me know it was being received. And I couldn’t ask, ‘How are you finding this?’ Even if that response is something crude or rude, it’s still a response. And you know, when you have people saying NO that just means you’re on your way to something very interesting, indeed.

So we were saying all this, and then I took a deep breath, and it felt like the Dream again and also reading Debord, and I looked at her and said, ‘Thank you for the great conversation! I really learned a lot.’

‘So did I!’ she said. And then, there it was. The answer to her question, the title of this section. Are the strangers you meet REALLY that interesting?

‘Yes!’ I cried. ‘See??!’

We laughed. Then she said, ‘I knew you were gonna say that.’

‘It’s not about being right.’

She knew I was gonna say that, too.

Read more about ‘N’

DK’s ’16N’ project gathers 16 people for ONE moment of conversation. See DesignKompany.com/16N

The why of N

Click to read ‘The Man who Discovered N’ >

A COUPLE OF PEOPLE have asked me why I make ‘N’. Very fair question, especially if you’ve been invited by AS recently. If you like myth and fiction, this story, ‘The Man who Discovered N’ might be fun.

Urgency of NOW

FRAMING MOMENTS. The big idea for ‘N’ is to frame ONE moment of CONNECTION with 15 other people who are curious about what an ‘N’ event might be like to experience in real life, who dare themselves to take a chance on something so new it’s almost weird. This might be really scary for some people, because what’s the outcome? What’s in it for you, what’s in it for me, in other words, what’s the value?

Question: what was the value of growing up close to grandparents who cradled you when you were a baby? Or, what is the value of hearing natural sounds of birds, or of stepping onto a boat when you’re not sure where it’s going, or how, or what you have to do to keep it moving? What about when you take a chance on a trip, on a new relationship, or on another thing that will push you to challenge your own sense of identity, the very essence of who you really are?

Once we step out of our comfort zones, however, that’s when the real insights come into play. Ask anyone who’s done something really hard what they got out of it. Of course they will say, much after the fact, that they learned something. That they grew.
But it takes some designing. And that’s what ‘N’ is for.

Making space

PLAY. Play is such a big part of discovery, and finding the way to N+1 (more on that if you’re curious, but only 6 months after ‘N’), and learning, and most importantly, growth. Without play we get suffocated, and I feel like most of the way we are taught to do things is Western ideas (I was raised in the US) about how to argue one’s way to right.
What if there are two or three or five million ‘rights?’ Quantum science got me thinking hard about uncertainty and I got to do some cool projects that showcased how not knowing is a big part of growth. First step, and all. Risks.
And that’s what ‘N’ is for, too.


N. Making space. For a moment of connection. In a bounded box. Handled with care.

‘N’ is coming. Bangkok

Ad agency Hakuhoudo’s Masaharu Kato on creative thinking

Process of making.
Click to read about S. P. A. C. E. >

IN A BOOK called Kougu*, which in Japanese means “thinking tools,” author Masaharu Kato of ad agency Hakuhoudo offers a few tips to come up with fresh ideas. I’ve used them when coming up with ideas for our clients, and thought I’d share some of my favorites…

Tips on how to start concepting ideas

1. Know what you are looking for
Start with a clear idea of what you’re trying to come up with. A catch phrase? A new name, a logo? Once you identify your goal, repeat it aloud to yourself a few times, and engrave it on your mindscape.

2. Focus on the surface: color, shape, size, word.
You can gather ideas anytime–driving to work, taking a stroll, during your lunch breaks. When you start these ‘idea gathering sessions’, sometimes it helps to decide ahead of time that you’ll focus on something arbitrary, say the color “red.” Think about the problem you are trying to solve, and at the same time, focus on the color red. You’ll notice red things around you that you’d might otherwise ignore, just by being focused on that color. Tuning into these details can lead to unusual, fresh connections that help you solve the problem.

3. Write thoughts down wherever, whatever they may be.
The act of writing activates your brain and focuses your thoughts. Use anything – post-it’s, the back of napkins, or a sketch book, to write. The point isn’t to come up with perfect notes, so don’t worry about keeping everything together or too tidy. Don’t worry about whether your thoughts are “good” ideas, either. Just keep writing–sometimes that’s enough for something brilliant to pop up in your head.

Here’s an example.

SAY YOU’RE TRYING to come up with a tag line for your new product – a new condo complex on the waterfront. You are thinking about the condo – how big it is, what kind of amenities it has, your target demography, etc. Then, you go out gathering hints outside. Focus on something specific, like, for example, the color blue today…

The sky is blue (for once, in Seattle! Hey, maybe weather should play a role in this), so is this car (an SUV – what kind of cars do the prospect tenants own?), and a mailbox (maybe they can offer a concierge service for the tenants, drop-off points for mail, dry cleaning, packages, rented videos/dvds?).

Jot stuff into a notebook as you go, connecting dots and coming up with more random links. Get your head to work this way so you can get to really interesting ideas more quickly.

*Published in Japan by Hankyu Communications, 2003.

Get more like this

Get S. P. A. C. E., our eZine. Click to read more.

WRITING PROMPTS AND MORE are coming together at Design Kompany’s new weekly eZine. More here on S. P. A. C. E. >

What counts as remarkable, valuable, and real? VALIDITY is our theme for July and August eZine S. P. A. C. E.

Theme is VALIDITY for July and August series of weekly eZine S. P. A. C. E.
Theme is VALIDITY for July and August series of weekly eZine S. P. A. C. E.

WHEN I WAS A NEWSPAPER REPORTER, on staff at a daily in Seattle, my big day was Tuesday.

That was the day ‘my’ page came out. Page three. ENVIRONMENT, it said, right there at the top. My business card said, ‘Environment Editor.’ Showtime.

This was a trade journal, a daily. All week I would be working to gather just the right things to include, and only those that would be of interest to specifically the kinds of people who would pay for this paper, and that wasn’t everyone, not even a fraction of the mainstream, if you had to be honest about it.

Which is how I learned about niche publishing. How I got interested in, over the years, switching up from ENVIRONMENT to S. P. A. C. E. Maybe it was the architects DK (my after-newspapers and self-designed collective) worked for in Seattle, or the dreamers, artists, engineers, musicians, organization heads, and so many, many other people in the time since, but I got into it. Spacemaking. And that’s my newest, most favorite-ever beat.

Still gathering bits from people. Still getting wind of things through the Net. Trying to curate just the right set of stories, tips, resources and fine fragments, while also holding the safe space for true dialogue (the kind with a center, and not sides). Members of DK (who are those who pay dues) get S. P. A. C. E. every Tuesday at 7AM USEST. Today I’m gonna send one announcing the new July/August theme, VALIDITY.

That’s how things shift, isn’t it?

You find yourself doing what you know how to do (curate, edit, share), but for exactly the people who care about what you care about. Niche. It’s a real thing. Maybe S. P. A. C. E. isn’t for everyone, but what I learned from Seattle is that it totally doesn’t have to be for everyone, and it’s better if it isn’t.

So lately my ‘Tuesday page’ is S. P. A. C. E.

Of course it’s not mine at all. It’s members’.

It’s what you tell me, and what you say, and how that fits into the big thing, that 100th monkey idea plus collective unconscious and other things that connect us, even when we aren’t right next to each other, face to face. Wish we could be, but this is a way to keep the conversation flowing, and to keep it progressing. Hard, when we are inundated with feeds, tweets, likes, links, kids, spouses, work, our own hangups, friends, not-friends, and more. Pro-tip: Declutter the channels. Go with what you like. And just that. Niche.

How to get S. P. A. C. E.

S. P. A. C. E., Design Kompany’s eZine ($), comes out on Tuesday mornings. Don’t miss the July and August series on VALIDITY. Join today: here >

A snippet:

TALKING TO PEOPLE offline a lot more in recent days. Getting back out there, fraternizing, seeing what’s going on.

A particular topic keeps coming up: What ‘counts’ as ‘worthy.’

So this July and August, let’s explore ‘validity.’ That is, let’s take a round look at the ideas of: remarkability, weightiness, validity, quality. Already a few friends here in Phnom Penh are resisting, but I think the challenge is part of this space. More on relationships and why I believe great ones come from a mutually inspiring push and pull, in a bit… —Read more when you join here >

‘N’ London: NOTEWORTHINESS. What’s remarkable? Why?

2015-05-17 22.58.14POSTS. TAGS. Tweets. Comments.

Handwritten letters. Memos. Novellas and plays.

2015-05-17 22.58.14
‘N’ ticket. 16 in total.

POSTS. TAGS. Tweets. Comments.

Handwritten letters. Memos. Novellas and plays.

How do people decide what to note? What to omit, where to expand, or how to refine even an instapic as a narrative?

What are criteria to decide, “This! This is worth making note of.”

How do we choose what’s worth giving focus and attention to, and what isn’t?

That’s the framework for the conversation installation ‘N’ London, set to take place later this year in that city.

Just 16 people. Invited personally. For a MOMENT of CONNECTION in a short frame of time. Details to be shared to registered guests only.

Curious? Say hi, request an invitation: Contact DK >

Design is in motion for new ‘N’ events in Bangkok, London, and Copenhagen

YOU MIGHT BE WONDERING what all this ‘N’ stuff is about. That’s cool, I mean, I think that part of the idea of creating something is to let it discover itself, as it grows and matures. Kind of like a plant. Or a toddler.

We are just 1/16th of the way into the big project, ’16N’. First one was in Phnom Penh, back in April. After ‘N’ Phnom Penh I have a bit more to say about the how and why of ‘N,’ but also, it’s largely going to become what it does because of who chooses to self-select and become part of it, too.

As in the case with Phnom Penh, there are going to be 16 people who choose to join in something that doesn’t have a clear point-by-point “what it is” because part of the whole journey is the exploration. That’s not to say there is zero formality. You will, if you get a ticket and register and everything, get an agenda, and instructions about the expectations, too. It’s like a cross between a workshop and an improv theater and something else: maybe just school. Without grades. All of us are teaching and learning, because we all have so many extraordinary things to say. It’s amazing. ‘N’ is for uncertainty, it’s for ‘Anything,’ it’s for… whatever it feels like it is to you. When this all got started, I had this crazy notion about the ‘N vector’ but then it got really mathy and geometry and Euclid and non-Euclid started coming into the picture, and when I started to go on about it with SM in recent days and things got quiet for a split second he said, quite astonished and astonishing me with the clarity of it, ‘Where do you get these ideas?’

Oh, well, that’s a long story. But for now, I can share the themes?

Themes and space for interpretation

Here’s what’s up:

  • COPENHAGEN. For ‘N’ Copenhagen, it’s NEARNESS. As in: What’s close? How does it affect me? Proximity. Self-awareness. Relationships of all dimensions. Thinking about Denmark and reminiscing on a trip there eight years back, I recall the comment: “We have to speak English. It’s a small country, with so many others on so many sides.” As in with NORMALITY as a loose theme we picked for Phnom Penh, the idea is to leave things open enough for some play and interpretation but also give a frame for the upcoming event. ‘N’ Copenhagen will be a space for 16 people I will invite personally between now and then to spend some moments thinking together about this very abstract idea. Because it is in a new country with a different language from mine, I’m asking for help from a few people in CPH, too. Want to help? Contact DK >
  • BANGKOK. ‘N’ Bangkok is on the way, too. Theme is ‘NOW’. What’s happening in this moment? Can’t think of a better place to have a conversation installation about the very essence of what ‘N’ is about, which is, namely, celebrating the MOMENT. Framing the urgency of NOW. I know, I know, it’s all so very esoteric and philosophic. But really, it’s play. Design Kompany has always been about play, and it won’t stop just because we grew up a bit.
  • LONDON. ‘N’ London is getting sorted, as well. Theme: ‘NOTEWORTHINESS.’ What’s remarkable? Why? In a big city like London, you have a lot of people going about their business, looking at their feeds, processing data, making data, all of that. But what of it is really worth taking note of? How do we know?

The idea isn’t to make a long-term party or networking “thing”, but rather, see who comes forward in this self-selecting way to participate in something that’s by design a little quirky. Playfulness is more relaxing. Play and sharing, seeing what might happen, emergence, that sort of thing. Improv is part of this story. Serendipity, chance. Want to help? Contact DK >

The next ‘N’ is coming to Thailand, and this is why

'N' is coming to Bangkok
‘N’ is coming to Bangkok

A FEW PEOPLE ARE ASKING ME ABOUT the next ‘N’ event, since there will be 15 more to make to complete the series ’16N’.

The first one, ‘N’ Phnom Penh, took place at NUK Cafe in April. It was a test, of sorts. In today’s “Culture of Maybe” I’ve been feeling a little lost when it comes to creating events, and even when attending other people’s events; mostly, I think there’s a lot of great stuff that happens in real life, live and on stage, or when we are partygoers ourselves and enjoying the simple act of randomly bumping into those whose paths we may never have otherwise crossed.

PEOPLE HAVE FOUND CONNECTIONS that led to new housemates, romantic love, and even new jobs at some of the events Design Kompany has hosted in the past years (2006-present). But that’s not the objective, it’s just a natural outcome. You do the work to show up and you tend to meet other people who also think it’s important to do the work to show up. Most often, they’re curious. Open. Engaged. I know, I know. I’m biased because I like to host these kinds of parties. But even in Ireland, which pre-dated our time as Design Kompany LLC, even in West Cork, our party there, the dessert party on the farm in Shepperton? Maybe you were there. Maybe you remember. What a mix-it-up and what great craic.

Making space for great conversation to happen—spontaneously, in the round, and with a personal invitation that comes from a real person who thinks you’re just right for it—that’s what ‘N’ is about. Bangkok, being a stone’s throw from DK’s base in Phnom Penh, is the next place to head to because I adore this city. The theme is NOW.

I’d love to give you the password to this page, if you’re there, and interested in talking more.

I could expand, if you’re interested? Especially if you’re in Bangkok this summer, (or Copenhagen or London after that), do get in touch. Here’s how: Contact DK >

The end of all our journeying happened in Sikkim

AND SO, TODAY I AM BACK IN MY USUAL ROUTINE, after a while away in a few completely other places where things were familiar (queues, quiet) in a strange, oblique way and yet, because of the move to Asia in 2013, things were completely weird (queues, quiet) from this point of view. “Back to reality?” this Italian woman asked me on a train. Reality? I feel like Cambodia is reality now. It’s all relative, right? Two years in Asia so far. That’s enough time to get my head around it. I’m looking forward to sharing in the future about the Khmer aesthetic, the subject of some research for something I’ll be able to talk more about in 2016.

Sikkim, India

BEEN UP LATE A LOT THIS WEEK. And thinking. Mostly about how much I love being up late. There’s this kind of stagelike quality in the dead stillness of twilight. Sure, I could have worked harder at getting back to the regular sleep cycles, but I was relishing that feeling of complete, what would it be? Repose, maybe. Yes, that’s it. A quality of unrehearsed but perfectly choreographed dialogue—you, the space around you, the giant wide big black all above. I made some voice recordings. I wrote a poem: it took five hours. It’s for someone, of course, those directed-to kinds are the best.

Come to think of it, I don’t remember the last time I wrote a poem. For some reason it seems like we are valuing more of the “how to get rich fast” and “how to win people” sorts of writings these days in our society over those other kinds: poetry, sure, not all of it is for everyone. But sometimes you can waltz your way to discovery of beautifully put-together phrases (Dickens, Tagore, et al.) and, as C.-san said in the deep hot rainy season of Hoi An, “You can find good friends in books.”

Into the mist

STAVING THE LONELINESS THAT IS INEVITABLE when one moves to a part of the world where language is completely unknown has been one part of it. But then, that’s okay, because your whole perspective gets flipped. See this picture? It’s from Sikkim, India, where I first got wind of the inkling our little collective was about to become a very different sort of outfit than we’d imagined it in 2004 and even before that, in 1996, as kids in the world thinking Making It meant making cash, and lots of it. Now I know that it’s about the journey, the taking chances, and when people say “viewfront” now I always think of Gangtok, and the terribly expansive sheet of monsoon flows and currents that touched DK’s heart in Sikkim.

Instead of complaining and worrying, instead of ennui, instead of the nostalgia that for so long has tied my hands, I am going to do the thing that has been pulling me towards its very center, with a gravity that has become more forceful as Newton pointed out (force is inversely proportional to the square of the distance). What’s more, what’s more!, is that I’m not resisting anymore. I’m going. I’m getting there. I’m getting to work, finding friends in books, dropping a lot of people, and writing.

S. P. A. C. E. is the place, said Sun Ra, and in the very vector that races our hearts towards the thing we must not cease from doing because it is the only thing that we cannot not do, I’m going to finally succumb.


It’s all there is.

Journeying now, processing it later

The moving towards, nay, racing to the mountain, has irrevocably begun. But maybe it had, already, when I went to Riverside in New York and found a museum dedicated to the works of one Nicholas Roerich, and whose book, The Invincible, I bought on the spot. (Quotes, paraphrasings coming in a future issue of S. P. A. C. E.) Along with two posters of his favorite mountains, the great Himalaya. Put those on the wall, and in a year, found myself looking at the pink twilight twinge of sunup on the deity, Mount Kanchenjunga.

AND SO, TODAY I AM BACK IN MY USUAL ROUTINE, after a while away in a few completely other places where things were familiar (queues, quiet) in a strange, oblique way and yet, because of the move to Asia in 2013, things were completely weird (queues, quiet) from this point of view. “Back to reality?” this Italian woman asked me on a train. Reality? I feel like Cambodia is reality now. It’s all relative, right? Two years in Asia so far. That’s enough time to get my head around it. I’m looking forward to sharing in the future about the Khmer aesthetic, the subject of some research for something I’ll be able to talk more about in 2016.

Collaging airline magazines, as per usual.

Redesigns and shifting winds

DESIGN KOMPANY IS SHIFTING to a patronage model in lieu of our more usual blog. I know we had one for 10 years or so and if you were following that, thank you.

But as we are adless and not sponsored and don’t put in little product thingies into our blog, not ever, and never have been, and don’t ever plan to be, the only way to generate new works of high quality is to give them time.

Time that I want to spend writing for you (if you are one of those people I almost immediately connect with, because you want to read things to ask big questions and not passively swallow whatever’s presented by Giant Corporations, that is) will require a little bit of confidence that you are there, reading. Membership is a way for me to know that there are people out there, who want, as I do, inspiration that’s out of the bounds of the usual. It’s not about visuals, or smart and overpromising headlines.

It’s about what’s here, right here, in our connected, subconscious, unconscious, and querying minds and hearts. It’s about our asking questions, and discovering, in doing so, our very humanness.

Interested in getting to know more about this?

Connect in S P A C E by becoming a patron. Here’s where to go.

Hello London: ‘N’ is coming your way

Tickets are getting made. Invite-only. Just 16.ARE YOU CURIOUS about what it is? No details will be posted here, but if you are open to something different and very new, I am open to receiving a note from you. Contact DK >

Meantime, making tickets. And a guestlist. Very jazzed.

LOOKING PRESENTLY FOR THE RIGHT SET OF EXACTLY 16 people to invite, personally, to ‘N’ London. This would be part of an international series, ’16N’.

Colleagues in London are also helping make this happen, and we’ll together share more in the coming weeks.

‘N’ London, whose theme is very nearly fixed (sitting on it, running it by people, seeing how it feels to say and hold), is making confident, happy, coming-to-England plans.

Are you curious about what it is? No details will be posted here, but if you are open to something different and very new, I am open to receiving a note from you. Contact DK >

Meantime, making tickets. And a guestlist. Very jazzed.

Tickets are getting made. Invite-only. Just 16.
Tickets are getting made. Invite-only. Just 16.

Music vis-a-vis story: a fast thought on finding notes

'Things come together, things fall apart.' --Edward Albee, The Adding Machine
‘Things come together, things fall apart.’ –Edward Albee, The Adding Machine


This post is for the people whom I’ve met in very recent days. Thank you for coming to this page. Thanks for reading. Thanks for bearing with me during the black hole phase of Design Kompany’s site (and email vortex space—this past weekend. Whew, fixed this, I think. I’m on it. I’m back. I’m receiving your notes again, starting today).

Mostly, thanks for the fascinating slew of hyperreal and temperamental or highly saturated, layered conversations, and for sharing your own stories, too. This is how ‘N’ starts. Discovering the thread—composing words or sound, I imagine, is similar processwise. You start anywhere, but the hard part is to start.

Did we meet on the train? Did we talk in a cafe, roll cigarettes in the cold, drink 16-year-aged whiskeys after just as many years? (Thank you!). Did we miss the news, or hear too much, did you hear that one, or did it slip? Did the light shine a new shaft amid statues and luxurious rooms upon rooms? Elements of chance! ‘C’est ça!’

How did it go, then, afterwards?

Me? Okay. ‘N’ is in motion.

Thanks to the new places, phases, and shades of dimensionality. Thanks to the writing, the looking, the seeking, and the play. Always play, always always playfulness—this is it, isn’t it? The only thing that makes stuff good?

I’m here. I’m listening. But, are you, and are you new? If yes, please Contact DK >

More. Soon.

Designing the next ‘N,’ a 16-way conversation installation

IT DOESN’T HAPPEN EVERY DAY. It doesn’t even happen every year.

But it does happen, it can happen, and it will happen.

As long as you persist and keep trying things, right?, as long as you let it go and see where it runs, you will find the thread and the poetry in the weaving of fabrics that make a picture.

Somehow, you trust this process. You go with it. You let the wave take you where it will.

And when it drops you off, eventually, in a spot where you’re completely stunned to be, you will know that feeling.

What… what… what is this? Now, wait a minute. This! This feel right on! 

For us at Design Kompany, there has been a lot of playing in the sandbox, building and rebuilding, breaking things down or surrendering to outside circumstances that break them down for us. But, we are still here. The blog is open again. Why? Because of ‘N.’

‘N’ is this thing.

A celebration of everything we love: randomness, improvisation, chance, experiential learning, making space, co-discovery, design (but not like in a magazine, more like designing the experience), serendipity, people, and conversation. In ONE moment of CONNECTION. Designed space for getting past all the riffraff and cumbersome back and forth of making time and effort to ACTUALLY get together. ‘N’ is pushing back on the Culture of Maybe. So you don’t have to wonder, “Wait. Is this happening?”

‘N’ is on.

The next ‘N’ is getting designed, planned, sketched, and collaboratively organized because ‘N’ is about, in part, the ‘us’ (and not about the ‘I’). Towards that end–

Guest posts to follow from people connected to this story, including Aske Pedersen in Copenhagen, and ‘N’ Phnom Penh guest Carly Nugent.

If you are wondering what ‘N’ is about, you are on the right track

'N '
‘N ‘

THIS IS A LONG STORY, but I’m going to try to keep it to less than 200 words. Hard, for me. I tend to like to ramble, something that, well, I’ll stop there with the intro.

Now, what is ‘N?’ You may be wondering. Perhaps you saw some images. Online, like on our FB or twitter. Or maybe I told you about it, in person. In real life. Real life is part of it. A big part. More importantly though is CONNECTION. As in, really looking at someone in the eye and seeing who they are there, not just these profiles we absorb in a passive way, but really relating. Relationally. Relatively. All these things are going to be explained in time here at this blog, but for now, I’m going to ask you to just trust me. Trust not me, that is, but trust the process. Experiential learning, some humanism, improv and play, creativity and innovation, some Jung stuff, there’s a lot here, but I don’t want this to become overly intellectual. I want it to be fun. Let’s play?

What to do now

I AM LOOKING FOR 16 people in 16 cities in the world who are open, curious, and ready to meet 15 others also interested in adventuring out of the comfort zone for a relaxed, easygoing evening of conversation. I’m also l looking for venues and co-designers to think with me on what kind of theme makes sense and what sort of setting, for the people in those cities. Every city will have its own theme, for example: Phnom Penh’s was NORMALITY, which we hosted April 26, 2015 at Nuk Cafe, and Copenhagen’s, this fall, will be NEARNESS.

Sound intriguing? There is more… Get in touch, and I’ll be happy to share. I’m learning as I go already that ‘N’ is far more than just a pushing back on the Culture of Maybe. I know it started there, but like ‘N’, the vector goes as it does and how it does. Secret: the line isn’t straight. Nothing interesting, however, ever seems to follow the linear path. Meandering is part of creative stuff, by design. —DK

‘N’! It happened first here

'N' Phnom Penh  // APRIL 2015
‘N’ Phnom Penh // APRIL 2015

EARLIER THIS WEEK SIXTEEN PEOPLE who’ve mostly never met one another before converged for ONE moment of conversation in the kickoff of DK’s newest concept, an international series called ’16N’. More here >

‘N’ Phnom Penh took the theme NORMALITY. Adapted from a series of things DK has learned about how to create space for REAL LIFE connection, it was a fun and relaxed evening. That wasn’t the part DK was worried about.

What was?

Making sure people would all be there… and that’s why it was amazing to see the whole thing… actually happen.

Tickets for 'N' Phnom Penh. Just 16.
Tickets for ‘N’ Phnom Penh. Just 16.

Pushing back on the Culture of Maybe, DK asked people to pre-pay for tickets.

We then mutually picked a date together.

Reconfirmed. Tapped a waitlist. Then: sent an agenda.

Everyone came.

More on what happened, coming soon.

Today is May 1. We’re taking a short break.