Making more and better S P A C E

It has been four years since we began publishing our eZine, S P A C E. Which runs the gamut of topics relating to creating new, and better space, mostly the kinds that foster interpersonal dialogues that progress in a meaningful way. That doesn’t have to mean lifetime friendship, or anything. Just… It has to be real. Space for new thinking. New perspectives. New journeys, collaborations and friendships. New, though. New matters. New is where we push the edge, try new things, and grow. Meet me in S P A C E? Let’s play.

Atelier S P A C E || Bangkok

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. ✨

S P A C E || Breakfasting

‘THAT WAS GREAT.’

‘It was.’

‘It’s good that we can still talk. A good conversation!’

‘It is. It was.’

‘About so many kinds of things! It keeps it new. I like that.’

‘I do, too.’

‘I think… I think that what’s really interesting is when you can have the old things and the new things, together.’

‘…’

‘I was talking about this the other day, when I was telling you I had such a great conversation jam? That was really fun, and you know, there are more things to talk about, all the time, as we go, because the talking towards some kind of discovery, even with the limitation of language as that is there, you know Niels Bohr said—‘

‘Who you love to quote.’

‘Who I love to quote! Who I love!, and yeah, he said, “We are suspended in words.”‘

‘…’

‘I think that S P A C E and writing like this is about suspension.’

‘…’

‘Everybody thinks they want stuff to be grounded, you know. Clear. Crazy clear and understandable, the bullet-point list. The one-pager. But… We also like to curiously float off sometimes, too. No one admits this out loud! I mean you can’t. It’s crazy talk.’

‘Yeah.’

‘But what you said, earlier, and last night, and everything. That was good. That was helpful. Informative.’

‘That was! Thanks.’

‘So we’re not fighting now.’

‘No.’

‘I like that we could skip over all the stuff we used to do, like sit around and process all the line-by-line stuff. I think I was just tired. And sick. I’ve been so sick. And all these papers, everywhere. And yeah. I’ve got to make a whole batch of zines, S P A C E || Malaysia has Ipoh, Cameron, Melaka, Penang, and Kuala Lumpur… And I’m only two-fifths done… And…’

‘Productivity isn’t the point.’

‘No.’

‘The journey is.’

‘Yes. But that is so… Philosophical and everything. But it is. The journey.’

‘…’

‘So, where’s next?’

Join us in S P A C E for more conversations. This month, we are giving away to new subscribers a PDF copy of Dipika Kohli’s book, Breakfast in Cambodia (Kismuth Books // 2016). It’s also available here.

S P A C E || The best is yet to come

GETTING SET here in Bangkok for our 6-10 March zine design atelier. Atelier S P A C E || Bangkok.

I’ll welcome just a very small handful of people to cocreate an eighth-page zine.

Read more under Upcomings and find out how to get involved in the international conversation that interweaves people and place, in S P A C E.

(What? Yeah…)

S P A C E || In mixed company

DK hosts ‘In Mixed Company,’ a sequel to ’16N’ which happened in Bangkok in October, 2015. Meet new people in remarkable ways. Prompt-led, guided conversation in a way that opens you up to try new personas, play a little with identity, and brush up your imrovisation skills. Be prepared for anything, expect the unexpected.

‘Weird and intriguing’ —Guest at ‘Hello August’

Zines will be on display to peruse, enjoy, and to take home. Make sure to RSVP to book, as we have very limited seats. Max 6. Use this form to RSVP:

S P A C E || Artist in Words

A CONVERSATION. This is a chance to talk about the work you create, in words. ‘You need to be able to talk intelligently about your work,’ said one of our photographer friends in New York. It almost seems like if you google ‘artist statement’ you will get a bunch more advice about the how of that. In this very small and light conversation, we’ll work together to adjust and define, refine and connect with one another on the most basic level: in person, in real life. When you meet in person, you can say so very much. How about making a small space to just talk with others about your art? It’ll be light, easy, prompt-led, small scale, and probably insight-making. Challenge yourself. Perhaps you’ll find out something you didn’t know. THB 500. Ages 16+. Max 8. RSVP requested. All materials included. RSVP through the form:

SELF || Bangkok

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. 

Wanderlust || Cameron Highlands

THE CALL OF THE ROAD. The urge to change something. But… What? Maybe it’s not the urge to change something, but just to take action. Any action. To just… go. In this freestyle conversation salon, hosted in the zany way that belongs only to DK, you’ll be able to enjoy new people, new thinking, and new kinds of conversations that have a center, and not sides. Expect the unexpected! Seasoned travelers and new voyagers are welcome. Tell us where you’ve been, how it’s been, where you’re going. Experience 4 short activities that we will do together, activities taken from Design Kompany’s handbook, ‘SELF,’ in which you will be able to also explore the inward journey. A short, sweet and once-off salon that doubles as a workshop, ‘Wanderlust’ is perfect for the seeking, curious, introspective, and (occasionally) extroverted traveler.

‘Wanderlust’ is a guided, prompt-led conversation and workshop in which you have the rare opportunity to process the very many feelings that crop up when we go, as and how, and where, when we wander. Up in the hills. Away from everything. Let’s gather in real life. Let’s converse. Let’s play? More at the registration page. Register here.

The way it’s going

I JUST HAD ONE OF THOSE moments, where you go, ‘Waitaminute. This is way, way out of scope.’ It’s like the time I was in Kyoto, this would be study abroad, and I was trying to study Japanese. Made a whole two semesters of college pretty much just about looking at old architecture in Kyoto and studying the language. The characters really got me excited, back then. I didn’t know how very different (simplified) they are from Chinese characters, of course, back then it was all (to me, that’s the important bit to qualify) to me, they were teensy picture-word things, that told you a bunch more info in the same kind of space than these kinds, words in English, they take up so much room. I like how Japanese is different. There’s so much space in the not-spoken… That’s where all the real conversation happens. At least, that’s what I think I understand. No definitive statements allowed, and that’s a good thing. I’ve gotten so tired of having to defend my way of doing things: leaving tons of room, space, for uncertainty and the chance encounter. To just… Happen into this path. And see. Today, I gave something to someone that really, I honestly, about four months ago, would never have given away. She was a girl in college on a trip with her bunches and bunches of friends. (M., if you are reading, this post is for you…) She had a nice quality about her, I can’t quite name it, you know, if I was still in the non-Asia version of myself, I would start to outline this, and put bullet points together, for a Post, so that it would make a Statement, something that you would Read and Be Interested or Informed by. But that is all nonsense. We all know now that there are no such things as Truly Objective Comments. All of us have the biases, the lenses, that of our whole past upbringing (and the things we cling to as truths). Until we can let the awareness sink in that maybe, just maybe, one way isn’t the only right way, then yeah. We can start a cool other thing. One of my favorite people to read about is NEILS Bohr (autocapitalized, just now. That’s interesting. I wonder why?). Who said, ‘How wonderful that we have met with a paradox. Now we have some hope of making progress.’ And: ‘No, no, no. You’re not thinking. You’re just being logical.’ And: ‘The opposite of a profound truth may be another profound truth.’ All of this I learned on this weird, random and improvised trip to Copenhagen in late 2015. I have no idea why I wanted so much to be far and cold, but it was autumn. They say ‘autumn’ there not ‘fall,’ like in the United States. The extra syllable made me happy, in a way. Like in the East, it was as if to tell me, ‘You don’t have to make it all sound perfect over here. Just go ahead and be. Just, yeah. Be.’ And that was it. The opening. (Of course I know that if I’d grown up in Asia or N. Europe I’d have a completely different attitude about these places, but the juxtapositions are nice.)

I’m gonna talk about ‘The Moment,’ but not out loud, not here in public. I’ll share quietly, in the behind-the-scenes conversations, where one step at a time, we’re developing. The Mirror. It’s happening. One group is all returning. One is all newcomers. I’m grateful and amazed, and humbled, and the way it’s going is pointing to a different door from the ones I’d been examining. That’s what ‘The Moment’ just showed me. I can’t tell you, not out loud, not publicly here, because… I’m writing more and more about things that count behind the scenes, with trusted circles, only.

In one hour

THIS IS HAPPENING. It really, really is. Four years of cojournaling. Two calls for interest in Januarys past. One short eBook anthology. And now, a small handful of people in timezones scattered who are saying ‘yes’ to the experiment and conversation that is this thing we made, together. Welcoming very warmly both new and returning guests to this year’s The Mirror. More is on the way, check your inbox. It’s exciting, isn’t it? This is my dashboard. Like it? More

8 January | Discover The Mirror

OUR NEXT ONLINE programme, The Mirror, begins on 8 January. Details are here.

What’s next for you?

If taking time to consider that very question thoughtfully sounds interesting to you (yes, we know it’s hard, of course it is, but is it interesting?…) then I invite you to apply for The Mirror. It is my favorite of our online workshops. I guess I like it because I’ve see transformations. So far, more than 50 people have taken part in our online programmes since we first opened spaces three years ago, all these would be online, for the kind of salon-style dialogue that: progresses; is carefully moderated; and is kept to a very self-selecting, small set of people. Real breakthroughs happen. I see it every year. You don’t have to be a pro at writing. Mistakes, drafts are welcome. It’s a journal, not a report. 😉 Since early 2014, DK has hosted The Mirror, this interactive and small-scale  experiment in journaling with others online. The framing question for its design was:

What if we could discover something together with those we didn’t know, but who were also exploring the same themes?

Great conversations emerged, resulting in a short eBook anthology, The Mirror. In recent days new conversations have inspired a fresh sequence of prompts, those that will, we hope, encourage people to break free of rigid thinking that ultimately confines us. For this I have CC to thank, in large part. (Glad I got to tell you.) If you are returning, there is more to share, on email, about the new things and a special group for alums.

The Mirror 2018 will circle in the new guests we are meeting in real life at our Atelier S P A C E programmes with our existing online community.

It’s fun, light.

And conversational.

Curious? Apply by 2 January. Apply here >

After Cameron

THE ATELIER S P A C E Programme here in Cameron Highlands just wrapped and we shared a little about it yesterday in our eZine, S P A C E. Thinking about the people we met and the stories they shared. That means in the atelier, and outside of it, too. Everything is embedded in a kind of context, right? Sometimes I forget to share with you about the ambient S P A C E. What it looks like outside of our designed frames, there are normal things. Cars. Traffic. Holiday jams. The street life that, when you really look at it all, is where the whole thing starts, for me, when it comes to thinking about what or where to make into a specially hosted box of time-space, which is the Atelier S P A C E. I know it’s weird and esoteric. Story of my life. But getting time here to chat with lots and lots of new people, new and very different others, in the contexts of regular life, regular space, is helping me talk about it in a way that, I hope, will be more clear going forward. Show up, see what happens: that’s the gist of all we are up to framing space for, here. Which just means setting it up: a slot of time, a place, a small circle of people… Highly self-selecting group, necessarily, for everything. Always amazed by the fascinating people who come forward for these programmes. Today I am thinking of SY and SS, whom I wish could join me for a cafe chat right here, where I am today. File under ‘relational aesthetics,’ HT to JB. (I finished the book.)

The why of S P A C E

WHAT IS S P A C E about? Starting in Battambang in Cambodia in Sept. 2017, we are moving in Asia to discover people who are curious, creative, and ready for something new. Our cocreated Battambang issue was on the topic, Ennui. In Singapore (10-12 Nov) our zine was on the theme The Third Place. In Penang (6-11 Dec) we took a different focus, Growth. The launch party for S P A C E {}| Penang is on Monday, 11 December, at the Bricklin Cafe at Hin Bus Depot. DK are looking forward to sharing the journeys from 2014-2017 around to different cities of the world to discover people and hyperlocal narratives, and pack them into short zines.

How did we find these themes?

Each is based on what conversations emerge when we meet new people in real life in those places, and simply take time to talk. Then we work on a piece that is cohesive, and is hyperlocal to the place and the contemporary narratives. These pop up from real life when we converse offline with new and different others. It brings storyfinding back to person to person contact, while ‘journalism’ becomes increasingly less human-centered. Who will we tell our real selves to? Each other, in real life, offline, away from package-making for others and towards more listening for common threads and similar experiences. In so doing, we feel more connected, DK have found, and inspired to improve, too.

What is Atelier S P A C E trying to do?

Consider possibilities. Try new things. Stay open. In a nutshell, it’s about helping people find ways to get out of their box. Comfort zones can be places where it seems cozy, but actually, lulls us into a creatively deadening complacency.

Our atelier is about designing a custom framework in each place that will set the stage for really interesting thinking and human connexion to actually *happen*, and DK select very carefully the venues, times of day, and themes so that guests of Atelier S P A C E can experience a relaxed, intellectually stimulating, space for dialogue. Dialogue of the kind with a center, and not sides.

It isn’t for everyone, this style of looking for the new and making zines in-situ, on the spot, with those we are inviting to play in S P A C E, but it works for people seeking a personal challenge to try new things and grow. Especially useful for people who have done a lot, careerwise, and seen firsthand that there are massive limits to what anyone can do on her own, yet few ways to invite truly engaging collaboration.

So we created Atelier S P A C E for this set of us. It is best for those who are interested in developing a creative voice, and making what is artful. DK has been practicing this since 2008 in Seattle, Durham NC, and Phnom Penh in workshops for a wide mix of people, and is sharing now through these popup ateliers tools, tips, and anecdotes that equip guests to become more confident creatively. Atelier S P A C E is a self-funded project.

Read about what’s coming up in 2018 at our calendar, here.

Atelier S P A C E || Penang

Click for ticket registration page.

ARE YOU INTERESTED in publishing? How about real life, and conversations that have a center, go places, and involve a wide mix of perspectives? If yes, this is for you.

Make an 8-page zine with us, and join the global series Atelier S P A C E.

The curious, as well as writers, artists, designers, editors, illustrators, photographers and others who make 2D works are invited to take part in Atelier S P A C E.

DK is temporarily camped out in Penang, and will host this popup atelier at the space pictured, and other venues. The idea is to mix it up: DK want to gather new and different othera whose paths might not have crossed, for uncertainty, for the chance encounter to *happen.*

New thinking, new perspectives. These lead to breakthroughs, innovations, and space for flexing the muscles of human imagination. No ‘movie and chill’ excusemaking here. We will get to work.

It works like this. On the first day, at a kickoff reception, you’ll be part of an informal conversational salon at our popup atelier space (pictured). You will be welcomed and given a comfortable, easy selection of conversation-starting prompts. The idea is to get us all talking together, in new ways, and avoid boring smalltalk. From there, as a group, we will choose a theme for the focus of the zine. Over the next few days, (a full programme to be shared with registered guests), you will work independently as well as with 1-2 others to collaborate. From what emerges, we will together design the final layout for the 8-page zine.

Check out some examples. The zines S P A C E || Battambang and S P A C E || Singapore, currently at Gerak Budaya Bookshop.

Inspired by nonlinear thinkers past and present, this atelier programme invites you to expect the unexpected, from others, and also, from yourself. It’s hosted by DK’s creative director, Dipika Kohli, who makes spaces for people to discover more about one another through loose, prompt-led dialogues that often will lead to remarkable connexion. After founding DK and writing her own narratives in first-person accounts, she got curious about how to make ways for people to discover themes and stories layered within the everyday usual spaces and discover the new. Since 2014 she has been hosting salons and ateliers, like Choices at The 1961 in Siem Reap, Self in Palo Alto, Flow at Foo Cafe in Malmoe, and Beauty in Phnom Penh. Before relocating to Asia, she hosted a salon, Gather, in Seattle, and an atelier, The State of Publishing, in Durham NC. Google ‘There’s Not That Much Time Left’ and TEDx to watch her philosophize about the urgency of now. In keeping with that framing, this atelier is a once-off occasion.

Since mid-September we have been on the road hosting Atelier S P A C E.

This is what it is: An on-the-road journey that discovers people, places, and stories on the fly, packing them into short zines one-to-two months at a time. What we are interested in doing with you is engaging people in real-life conversation, in the form of salons, and also, in publishing some of those snippets (the best of, developed and refined, in further conversations) in a zine.

Tonight in Singapore! A 3-day zinemaking popup atelier begins

LAST CALL to register for Atelier S P A C E in Singapore.

Tickets for the 3-day atelier are SGD $180. Register here.

We are ready, and we are set. Look forward to meeting our registered guests tonight at the *secret meetpoint* at the National Gallery.

S P A C E. Meantime, if you are not in Singapore, but are wondering about how all this will play, do consider subscribing to our online magazine, S P A C E. It’s a weekly. Going since 2014. See what we will be writing, sharing, and co-creating. Find out more at this page.

Journey to S P A C E

IT IS SUNDAY. Laying low, conversations are being kept to a min. It’s that kind of mood, here, what with throngs of people out and about soaking up the city at the weekend. I remember this. All my city travels were like this… the weekend is when you really want to keep it to a minimum, the hubbub, at least, that’s how I feel about it. All scenester and hipster and instagrammy and it’s weird, and strange, but you could just go to the same places on a different day, say a Wednesday afternoon, for ex, and enjoy the space for much more airiness and lack of crowds. For a conversation salon space maker I am a terrible hermit, I suppose. But maybe that’s because I like to save up my energy and interactions with just a very small handful of self-selecting others. When people choose to take part in S P A C E, it means a lot to me because it says, ‘Yes, I, too, want to try new things. Show up. For something new. I want to try it.’ Maybe it’s just once, maybe we’ll never meet again, but wow, when we do this, it’s magic. Really. We can enjoy these things, can’t we? One real life conversation atelier or salon or just a bumping-into-you-for-this-moment space of time? I think so. Let’s see what happens, now, as we get ready for Singapore’s Atelier S P A C E. Only 6 days away. I’m here, I’m laying low, I’m readying, and I’m happy. The chai. I’m all about the chai. ‘One more?’ ‘But of course.’ ‘Yaar, you really look happy.’ ‘Chai, man. Haven’t had this stuff since Gangtok, Amritsar, and Delhi, way back before all the things that came.’ ‘Things?’ ‘It’s a long story. Meet me in S P A C E?