Prototyping S P A C E in Gangtok, India

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.

S P A C E || Bangkok // DK 2015
‘N’, the big blind date

(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.

Afterparty for ‘N’ Bangkok at jazZ happens! // DK 2015

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.’)

Real dialogue

‘Book of Blue’ is an art book, made in Bangkok, Phnom Penh. 2014

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.

Modern Sikkim // DK x Echostream 2013
Gangtok roundtables begin with the conversations about the role of government. Over chai and biscuits. Doesn’t everything good start with ‘tea talk?’ I think so. // DK 2013

But in the meantime, there’s this.

Philosophy of the moment

8 October

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.

Writing and designing, connecting and discovering in Aarhus, 2015. This was where we learned about ‘relational art.’ It’s been all relational art, everything, ever since. (HT AP, BM and SCH).

 

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
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.

Art.

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.

IMG_1087
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.