Welcome to the party

SATURDAY AFTERNOON we hosted Arts & Letters Society at the cafe of the National Museum here in Kuala Lumpur.

Have moved over to Southeast Asia for the autumn tour to make more zines, meet more people, find new stories, and co-create works of creative nonfiction. (If that sounds like a tall order, well, maybe it is. But we’re on for the challenge.)

Why host popup salons?

‘Designers Korner,’ Stumbling Monk, Seattle 2006-9

I HAD GROWN tired of the usual meet ups around the places where I was living in the past. Seattle for tech events. Durham NC for the feelgood community spaces where, you know if I’m really honest, I never felt like I could be part of because me being me, I had one foot always ready to jump out the door and exit the country. See things. Go places. Meet people. Discover. Why? Because… the new. Searching and drifting, looking and listening. Managing to do this, somehow, in a wobbly way at first (2013 was difficult), but then, with growing confidence, and practice, and, hey, people who were interested in the same, and co-creating, and then, amplifying our work together because we’re moving in the same vein. Let’s do this, I’d say. Let’s play.

Things in S P A C E, 2005-present

 

 

An art of the moment

‘Breakfast in Cambodia’,TINI Phnom Penh,  2016

HAVING BEEN AT IT making Atelier S P A C E for a year now (pics on instagram, zines in our store), we’re getting more practice at the ‘how’ of designing the spaces in which new and different others can find remarkable moments of connection. It’s very airy, I guess, to say it that way, but what it really looks and feels like is a cozy, fun, light and casual conversation party, and, when it’s good, you’ll see ridiculously deep moments of insightful breakthrough that occurs when we are talking together. This happens between, and this bit is important, because this is what makes it S P A C E and not a general meet up, it’s between people who haven’t ever met.

Zinery! in Chiang Mai, with SB, 2014

Shifting and growing.. Moving and changing. The art of noticing. The art of paying attention. Less talking. More ambient being-together. Not over-intellectualizing. Calming down. These are the shifts, of late. This fall there will be more of them, I’m convinced. But what, exactly, and how, are still open to discover. If there’s anything I learned from Finland, it’s this: we are where we are, right now, at the moment.

Everything ahead ‘depends.’ Katsotaan, ‘let’s see.’ You don’t have to know everything up front and have it all pre-defined, agendas outlined, bullet-point lists typed up to distribute.

‘Origin,’ Embassy of Bulgaria, Phnom Penh 2017

The old style of DK (‘let’s get to the point, and make it snappy’) is morphing a little into a mellower, kinder new one (‘let’s play’). Why? We were always more about the play side of things, I think. Somewhere along the way we lost sight of that because DK turned into ‘a business,’ or ‘work,’ or ‘a consulting boutique,’ or, um.

What would you call it… ‘A job.’ A job? A job? WTF. DK is never a job. DK is DK because it’s a space for play, exploring, experimentation, discovery, co-creation, shifts, drifts, meanders, and the rest. I don’t want DK to look or feel like a job. So I’m writing this blog again, first-person, directly.

I hope you can enjoy with me the new stuff. Which, honestly, has been about stripping all the facades and getting back to exactly where I started, in 2005, right here. Blogging every day, from DK World HQ in Capitol Hill, Seattle. Telling whomever might find it interesting what my personal opinions were, back then. Embarrassing, really, when I think about it. But if it wasn’t for the blog I never would have found people like Seattle-based CE, or Durham NC’s JM, whose mentorship and patronage gave DK the boost it needed in those days to continue to evolve, to develop new programmes, and to test out some of the things that we had no idea about. I’m writing this as if it’s a big moment of reflection or some kind of wild milestone, or something, and it’s just… not that, but it… feels really good to go back to the original DK. Where we just played. A lot. Almost every day.

‘N’ Hanoi, Nhọ Nồi, 2017

In real life with people we liked, going to the parlors and bars and cafes and parks and museums and theaters and otherwise ‘third places’ and designing S P A C E. Who remembers the party ‘Dazzle?’ Or ‘Sugar?’ Or ‘Pop?’ I still remember when one of our guests said she’d driven past the house, then circle back when she saw a giant plastic floor lamp, a kind of round thing that looked like a big fat flower, blaring light from the doorway. ‘I knew when I saw it that had to be the place.’ It was. It still is. Now our lamp is blaring in a different kind of way: conceptually. I know, I’m getting esoteric here again. Sorry about that. It’s really not that hard, or intellectual, or anything. We’re kind of um, just. Um. Always. I guess this makes it really not-work. But I’ll say it. We’re just having a really good time. Like a party.

‘Expat’, Havana Durham NC, 2012

Remember Primal Scream?

Remember ‘Loaded?’

Yeah.

Now, that’s what I’m talkin’ about.

The writing process

‘SHOW, don’t tell.’

That’s the advice writers get when we are starting to write.

I think that’s pretty marvelous advice, except, um. We’re writing. So how do you ‘show?’

Well, it’s a good thing I brought the new camera. I’m borrowing it. From BOSS. It has a bunch of cool lenses and I’m enjoying the depth of field play, for the first time in many years. I don’t have an iPhone, so I don’t take camera pics. I don’t carry the old digital camera (the one you can put in your pocket) around because that means having to bring the battery charger and remember all the parts and figure out how to load up things to the computer. Of course I don’t bring around my old Minolta X-375, because… film. And where is it, anyway? I hope it’s in some box safely tucked away in one of the many, many attics and behind-the-staircase closets of friends and relatives on another continent, where I remember seeing it last. But this new camera. Is reminding me of the old one. Except, you don’t have to advance the film. And, it doesn’t make that oh-so-satisfying shutter click sound. But there are pros. I never have to worry about running out of film. I’m not the kind of person who constantly checks the picture to see how it looks, either, so I do really stay with the subjects when I’m with them. That’s just how I am. I feel pretty strongly about paying attention to the things you photograph, which might be why I’m always complaining about people talking selfies indiscriminately here and there and everywhere, or meeting someone for two seconds and wanting to grab a picture with them. Howcome? What is the emotion there? There isn’t any. It’s not going to make an artful picture. So what is the point of making it? 

STRONG OPINIONS. If you meet me in real life, you will know that I talk about this a lot. About the lack of attentiveness to relationship-building. It has to start slow. Slow and steady. I feel. For it to last. Maybe not everyone wants a thing to last. But I don’t like this insta-pic culture, and I don’t like throwaway relationships, either. I like quality. I think I’ve been blogging those three words quite a lot in public and password-protected pages, here. I do. I want that. And for quality to happen, you have to build the space so that it is welcoming, inviting, comfortable. THEN you can get intimate. You know, I feel this way about the subjects I photograph, too. It’s not always portraits of people: sometimes it’s my zines. Or art books. Sometimes it’s butterflies, and lately, it’s birch trees. Koivu.

Some news…

  • There’s a two-page spread coming together for the zine, about Koivu. I’ll be sure to write about that in today’s issue of S P A C E. But that’s for the inner circles, people who are members of this community, and whose monthly subscriptions make doing this work even possible. (Thank you.)
  • This week I’m writing S P A C E | Karsamaki. In July, I’ll interweave the real-time writing process with the online salon, ‘Slow Moment.’ See if you want to write with 8 of us, when you check out that link, and apply.
  • I took some photos to mock things up, rapid prototyping being my favorite thing in the word. How is it going to look and feel? I need to sketch it out, quickly, to see if it’s actually worth doing. I think this one is. There were a lot of mini-tests in my first two weeks her win Finland, and I have a bunch of time before the International Zine Day event that will be the date I launch this new photozine. So I’m going to lay low, write some more, see if I can get a poem or two translated into Finnish.

This is my process. Thinking and jamming with people who are resonant with the things that are beginning to emerge. Letting go when the rapid testing shows, ‘Hey. This is a dead end.’ Getting over it. Being okay with it when your expectations fall short of the reality of a thing. Learning to enjoy the unexpected highs, like five-star cooking that appears every so often when you couldn’t possibly have imagined it, and it’s good, and what’s better, it’s warm. Friends, company. Learning, sharing. Making new kinds of books. Exploring needle and thread and improvising on bookbinding. Gathering more materials. Looking around. Walking outside. Talking to trees. Winston Churchill did that, I read once. It’s not crazy. Philosophy isn’t irrelevant, either. In fact, it’s the only thing that will get us out of this weird loop we’re in, of navel-gazing and anxiety-making, and othering, and line-drawing, boundary-making, political ensnarements, and the all around slap of ‘Really? This is the best we could do, as humanity, after all this time?’ But then I remember MB’s advice and conversations with him about this topic. Yes, this is the best it’s gotten. And it’s not all rotten. Remembering the slow moments. That’s the work, for now.

UPDATE. This is what the zine is looking like, so far. Not bad, huh? Now. Let’s get to writing. –DK

2 July | DK’s online photography x writing workshop-salon

NEXT MONTH, we’re going to host an online conversation called ‘Slow Moment.’

It’s designed for writers, photographers and people who practice slowing in all its many, many forms. In this post, I’m going to tell you a little bit about how the online projects here at DK work, and also, why we’re doing the 12-week sequence on the theme, ‘Slow Moment.’ I’ll start with the latter.

The idea started when we hosted ‘The Mirror‘, in which one prompt was ‘Slow Moment,’ and the responses that came were so fantastic that it led me to dedicate an entire 12-week block to just this subject. We talked about family, the woods, walking. Hikes, oceans, and being on our own. We talked about wanting to go places, going there, and what happened when we did. Relationships. Journeys. Endings, and new starts.

‘Slow Moment’ starts 2 July. Learn more >

 

OPEN SPACE. Popouts. Allowing people to spend more time talking together about the topics they are most interested in. That’s how Open Space works, and that’s how we’ve been conducting our four-years-and-counting online project, S P A C E. It’s a salon. It’s a workshop. It’s a community. (And it’s just celebrated its fourth birthday.)

For me, moving towards the focusing in 2018 on the conversations that have developed and progressed is a really cool, fun step. Maybe we’ll create an anthology, perhaps a photozine, to share sometime in the fall, based on where we take things now. You never know how things can flow, they can meander, they can fizzle, they can blossom, they can die. It’s not a big deal, really, what happens. It makes room for new things to grow. New input. Original thinking. Freshness, space… that sets the stage for innovation.

Now. Next. All set for the 2 July start of ‘Slow Moment.’

 

Designing more and better S P A C E

HERE’S THE THING. I could have continued doing design for the next hundred years, when the work was happening and I was getting into it, and clients were referring DK, and so on. But what did I do? Move to the other side of the country, start over. That’s how it changed into more of consulting work; but also, salons. Started doing weirder and funner things, like ‘Aether: Is the Medium Still the Message?’, a series in which we invited guests to talk with us about the old ideas and the new ones when it comes to making media. Took that from Durham NC up to Washington DC, then New York’s Bryant Park, then Boston. Came back and made even more, even weirder installations. (Like ‘I Went 2 the City (And There Was Nothing There’, and more. I can talk about them for pages and pages, but that’s not the purpose, here.)

I want to invite you to join us in S P A C E, if you are getting a link to this page from me personally, especially. When it comes to making this invitation, what I care about is the spacemaking. I show up. I have the thing designed. If people enter the box of S P A C E to play, and they do, they really do, sometimes, then I’m happy to host. That’s how it’s been and that’s what’s going to happen now. I’ve just received the first application for the 2 July start of ‘Slow Moment.’

 

New things

IT’S A PLEASURE as always to read these applications. It feels like getting letters in the mailbox. It’s personal, it’s warm-hearted, it’s sharing. People write a lot of beautiful things. I can’t tell you what they are, because of confidentiality, but the whole thing makes me feel very humble. If writing for the sake of writing were all there was, we would keep our manuscripts in drawers and never show them to anyone. Of course, that happens, and it’s cool, if that’s your thing to just write and be a writer or photograph and be a photographer, and never share, then cool. That’s you. But it’s not me.

 

The Mirror 2018 welcomed guests in online forum-spaces from around the world.

 

Rapid prototyping for S P A C E events in Finland

Sharing is a part of the experience, to me, of making art. And being ‘in’ on the process of how a thing is made is something, I’m just realizing as I write this, and as I make zines with people here in Finland, is a huge piece of my own approach to art. If you can’t see how it’s been made, what is the fun of seeing it in its final form? Especially now that we have this two-way medium of communicating (web!), why not enjoy the process of developing our works, as we are making them, with others to write with, share with, post pictures to, engage with. But I’m not talking about 1:N. I’m talking about very small circles. Like, four people in each. I’m inspired by my way back in the day fifth grade class, and the style we used to have there, in small groups. Four of us would have desks facing each other, and we had these little ‘pods.’ I’ve since learned about the ‘jigsaw‘ method of teaching, and realize what an impact it had on my own way of learning, approaching things, and asking peers for their ideas on what I want to know more about.

That’s probably why I’ve reached out, in recent months, to more than a dozen of my favorite photographers. People whose work I’ve seen in real life, or really admired and reached out to and subsequently met up with just to talk art-shop. People who are doing really cool things. Whom I wanted to ask, ‘What do you think about really seeing, really noticing, really going into the quiet spaces and enjoying them, and then, somehow, photographing or capturing them through written words? It’s a big question, for sure. But… what do you think?’

Some of their answers are already prepared for you, in the upcoming workshop… ahead.

But to give you a sneak peek, here’s some of what I learned.

 

Slow art

‘Slow Moment’ starts 2 July. Learn more >

SLOW MOMENTS let us remember what our story is. To ourselves, about ourselves, but also, who we are in relation to others. (And in an existential way, to the cosmos). In many ways, I think for many of us taking part in DK’s online salon-workshops, we’re just talking together in these online circles because it gives us a place to share.

I’ve been making S P A C E salons in real life for a while now, and the goal is to create a cozy space where people who don’t know one another can simply be together, and talk if they want, or not-talk if they feel inclined that way, and simply be who they want to be, which I hope, in S P A C E, is who they really are. So many other facades are out. So many guards are up. In the real world, I mean, and in the social media world, too. But who are we really? When I connect with people in S P A C E, I feel I’m talking directly to them, their real selves, without all the layers. That’s a privilege and a responsibility. But I think, I do really think, that I’m getting kinda good at this. That’s why I’m not quitting the salon-hosting online, not yet. I’m going to keep hosting as long as I get amazing applications. And I do. So I will.

 

S P A C E is where we write, talk, and comment; it’s asynchronous, and it’s international. I encourage pen names, too. It’s not about google-ability or sounding smart, or anything weird like social media commenting status quo goes. I don’t understand how social media got so out of hand. I really miss those days when twitter wasn’t algorithm-y, nor did it have promoted ads, and we could just say ‘hi!’ to @anyone, and it was chronological, and not driven by… agendas… Of all varieties.

Slowing into the moment. Seeing it. In S P A C E. Read more about S P A C E projects.

BE A PART of this. We’re taking applications currently, and we’ll select just 8. See you on the other side. –DK

 

 

 

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. ✨

Lifehack

LEARN DESIGN KOMPANY’s top 4 tools to uncover the answer to a very important question:

What will be your legacy?

SUMMARY. Here’s what it is. Get four top tools from our toolkit, which DK’s creative directors developed in-house over more than 10 years while working with different kinds of people and engaging with their unique learning styles. Here is what you will get. A workbook from DK with our best-of collection of 4 modules, which each give you the spreadsheets, tools, and instructions we will work through together. You’ll be able to apply what you learn right away to manage and direct your career, make better-informed decisions, and look forward to the next steps with confidence. This is our agenda:

Module 1.Self (as seen in Bangkok)
Module 2. Choices (as seen in Siem Reap)
Module 3. Flow (as seen in Malmoe)

This will be in English. It is aimed at mid-career professionals. It’s for people who are interested in doing work they really care about, work that matters, work that will leave a true legacy. ‘We’ve been working with people in Europe, N. America and Asia for 12 years, and we are ready to share the highlights of what we know works,’ says DK’s creative director, Dipika Kohli (TEDx ‘There’s Not That Much Time Left’). ‘This is a unique workshop where you can explore with others also interested in taking time to look at what work is personally important to each of us, and why.’ You’ll walk away with a 5-word ‘self-concept,’ and a professionally-worded summary statement. Useful for resumes, especially when looking to work abroad.

Register here.

The Village II

THE VILLAGE is an online conversation salon. It’s by invitation. It’s for people whose paths we are crossing, and with whom we’d like to develop a continued correspondence. This time, themed around the idea of The Village. Together we will ask, in this 12-week sequence, ‘To which tribe do I belong?’

Mixing our experiences and backgrounds is the goal. Co-discovery and co-learning, through writing together in protected-page posts at this blog. You’ll meet people from other timezones, writing asynchronously in response to the weekly prompts. Prompts are sent Mondays at 7AM USEST. There is no need to be anywhere at any particular time, it’s all done by email. No video, no tests, no homework. Just… weekly prompts. Each one is designed to take less than 20 minutes.

Lifehack

LEARN DESIGN KOMPANY’s top 4 tools to uncover the answer to a very important question:

What will be your legacy?

Get four top tools from our toolkit, which DK’s creative directors developed in-house over more than 10 years while working with different kinds of people and engaging with their unique learning styles.

Here is what you will get. A workbook from DK with our best-of collection of 4 modules, which each give you the spreadsheets, tools, and instructions we will work through together. You’ll be able to apply what you learn right away to manage and direct your career, make better-informed decisions, and look forward to the next steps with confidence. This is our agenda:

Module 1. Starting & Self (as seen in Bangkok)
Module 2. Finding Flow (as seen in Malmoe)
Module 3. The Chart & Choices (as seen in Siem Reap)
Module 4. The Plan
This will be in English. It is aimed at mid-career professionals. It’s for people who are interested in doing work they really care about, work that matters, work that will leave a true legacy. We’ve been working with people in Europe, N. America and Asia for 12 years, and we are ready to share the highlights of what we know works. This is a unique workshop where you can explore with others also interested in taking time to look at what work is personally important to each of us, and why. You’ll walk away with a 5-word ‘self-concept,’ and a professionally-worded summary statement. Useful for resumes, especially when looking to work abroad. This is designed and hosted by Design Kompany’s Dipika Kohli (TEDx, ‘There’s Not That Much Time Left’).

Your ticket includes lunch, tea, and snacks. Lunch will be a Khmer meal, served family-style.

ABOUT DESIGN KOMPANY. DK started in 2006 in Seattle, USA, working with discerning architects, software developers, artists, and other process-oriented people to design or redesign their brand identities (Capitol Hill Chamber, Baltic Room, NW Asian Weekly). Since arriving in Phnom Penh in 2014, DK branded NUK Cafe, and took on several ad hoc projects to get people thinking more clearly about how to clarify goals so as to optimize for the right metrics. ‘Lifehack’ is part of a fall series of workshops and programmes in S P A C E, an online community that meets regularly in destinations around Asia. Find out more about that here.

FAQs

Are there ID or minimum age requirements to enter the event?

Ages 25+. Best for mid-career professionals.

What can I bring into the event?

No need to bring anything. Everything will be provided on the day.

How can I contact the organizer with any questions?

Use the form at our website to contact us.

How can I order tickets?

Register here.

 

Up II

‘MADE IT.’

‘What?’

‘The accountability thing.’

‘What thing?’

‘You know. Getting you to write down what you want to do this week. And then asking you if you did it.’

‘…’

‘You said you wanted that, right?’

‘That was like, half a year ago!’

‘Yeah, sorry. But. I’ve gotten some other things going that reminded me of how it’s important to check in and stuff. And so I got back into it, not because, you know, it was highly urgent or anything, it’s just that, I know how to do it, at least. I have a hunch. A minimum viable thingy. But yeah. I think this will work. Mechanically. You know. Automating, but not getting all carried away with figuring out code. I’m not a code guy, you know that.’

‘…’

‘I think sometimes people like to overdesign the tools. The tools aren’t important, though.’

‘What is?’

‘The doing.’

Breakfast in Cambodia

MEMBERS OF S P A C E who are in Phnom Penh will be invited to this exclusive event, a reading and conversation about life in a rapidly changing Cambodia. Meet the author of Breakfast in Cambodia, DK’s own Dipika Kohli. You’ll be able to talk about publishing, editing, and writing as well as the process of putting together a finished piece. Or just enjoy the short reading, on the day. To book your spot, just order the eBook. When you do, we’ll share the location details directly with you by email.

Order here: http://gum.co/villagereport

 

3.14159

THIS MORNING, it started to become clearer.

‘What?’

‘The new thing. There has to be a new thing, always.’

‘After..?’

N.’

‘But you’re not finished with N.’

‘No. But I don’t want to get bored… well, not bored, but do you know how hard it is to try to get 16 people to commit and showup and pay and actually really, like, you know, do it, when they don’t know who I am, whew, wow, but so cool… and it’s… stressful and taxing and takes a lot out of me, even though it is magical and rewarding and beautiful, but you know, you can’t have that kind of intensity all the time, so in the meantime, less intense but more often kinds of conversations would be cool, and so rather than trying to expend every ounce of my energy trying to make 5N happen, which, it must and it will and it has to have enough space to enjoy itself when it is ready… and yeah. Not try at least to invent other things to try in the meantime… that would be stifling, wouldn’t it? It would be… silly. To get overly attached to N. Even though yeah, I turned this whole blog into the N journey thing there, for a while. Strange.’

‘So what is the next thing?’

π.’

The number π is a mathematical constant, the ratio of a circle’s circumference to its diameter, commonly approximated as 3.14159. Wikipedia

 

This Tuesday, everything resets

FOR THE LAST TWO YEARS, we’ve been publishing a weekly eZine, S P A C E. There is a fee for this magazine. There are a very small group of subscribers. But that’s good.

I’m telling you this because we are at the verge of a new chapter, this junction of DK. It’s 2017. We started in 2006 in Seattle, as a humble LLC thinking that ‘making it’ was landing enough gigs to pay your bills. But that’s so… boring, just paying your bills. What about interestingness? Intrigue, learning, growth? Beauty. Over the years there’ve been many shifts, and this Tuesday, I press a big red reset button. Killing the mailing lists, outside of the new one. Many things. For sure. Are informing the downsizing of the ‘who I know’ database and an inward press to focus, instead, on just a handful of people with real attention, real is the important word here, real because there’s caring, and understanding, and mutual respect. No more ambient stuff. No more keeping in touch. I’m moving everything into the new box, the new S P A C E.

Happy, so far, with the way it’s been a slow cook build. Because small is beautiful. We are consistently creating conversation-sparking instances, I think, really, it’s working. We aren’t overly in touch, but we are quality in touch. We are developing conversation space that is progressing, with richness and complexity. Delving deeper than the superficial, going beyond the happy facebook post and going into places that, for better or worse, are opening us up to one another, and ourselves. The online course SELF started it, then there was THE MIRROR, THE FORUM, THE VILLAGE, and some other things that were invitation only for just a handful of people because… I felt… they might like them.

S P A C E meetup in Phnom Penh, at Zino // Photo by DK 2017

***

 

 

DK ARE STILL MAKING AND DOING. Thanks to our subscriber base, we can explore more interesting dimensions, and get to better and better ideas, which takes a lot of room and improvising and testing and… belief in the point of it all. Some of us are more interested than others in the pursuit of beauty, the search for meaning. And those are the people who DK now works for. It’s been quite a trip, discovering this. It’s been a long slow process of carefully and sometimes less than artfully letting go. Of the deadwood, that doesn’t contribute, but only takes. So Tuesday, I kill the mailing lists. I get started instead on who is newly arriving in the orientation rooms for S P A C E.

 

Outtake. Zine making and collating bits // Photo by DK 2016

***

Who DK works for…

HERE’S WHAT’S COOL about the online programmes, to me.

‘So like how do you do that?’

‘What?’

‘Whatever you’re doing.’

‘What?’

‘Whatever it is. Does it pay the bills?’

Total stranger asks me this. Like it matters. Like anyone cares about the things I care about, and what matters to me, except me (and maybe 1-2 others whom I randomly find out of every 100 people I meet). Interesting, I thought. But I kind of just went all into it. I said, ‘You know what? You have to create your own value, now. You have to show up, and do great work. You have to deliver. This is the digital economy, now.’

 

First meetup in Phnom Penh of 2016, at SOR

***

 

WHAT I DIDN’T SAY: Asking me about how to make money in this field (which is what, exactly, anyway?) is not just overly personal and out of bounds, but it’s okay, I’m over these things, being a self-employed person you get this a lot, but you know, boring. It’s just… such a 1990s question. DK are not making widgets (anymore. No more brand identity designs, those process books that we would deliver, they were about the conversations… the arrivals at terribly insightful moments of ‘yes! That’s IT!’… which was the fury and the love of doing these collaborations… but when we got googled about design and identity and Seattle, people saw the images and portfolio things, I think, at first blush as products to buy off the shelf... Only our clients at DK know how much time and energy went into the early part of the process… getting to know you, designing something uniquely authentic and… well, anyway, we’re not doing them, now. Around the time we finished up NUK Cafe we said, that’s enough).

The people who subscribe to S P A C E are the people who are making it possible for us to continue to conceptualize, design, develop, test, prototype, test some more, research, understand a glimmer of something about, but not fully, and that’s okay, because we can keep at it, we can fail flat, or flatter, and then, try againthey are the people who are supporting us, in the most important way (for viability, that is): capital. I used to think that the people I wanted to keep in my inner circle were those whom I had known the longest. Those who had, in some way, been part of my most intimate conversation spaces. But I was wrong…

WHY? Well. It takes years of life to learn that you were wrong, in a big way, about something you held as basic. People I imagined would be part of my S P A C E community, the one that matters to me the very most, were… those from my past. But I was wrong. Of course they weren’t. They were… the people I was finding now… in life, the world of this place and time, where I am. Bricolaging and finding us together, expressions of moments of exchange, collected instances, is my new work, now. And I can’t cling to the past connections, I can’t hold on to every single… old tie. Were we teenagers, hanging out getting tacos or ice creams or something bad for you, as teens do? Maybe we were in the same dorm, or maybe we shared some kind of experience, like a concert or a theatre performance, or something lifechanging like… well, you have yours and I have mine, right?

Too personal to share out loud, here. As so very much other stuff is, too. Work, life, family, relationships, conversations that happen in the private rooms of dialogue that go into weird and fascinating directions. Letters. Poetry slams. These kinds of things are not high-profit, but they matter. I think. I really, really do. Which is why I’m not going to break down and get some gig in digital things I don’t understand the point of. Why would I want to market someone else’s things, when I have S P A C E to send out into the world. Why???

I still want to make conversations happen, which is why we are hosting online programmes to continue the dialogues that spark an interest. If you are on for sharing with us more, then do consider applying for something, or show up for something when it comes around in your town (next stops: Berlin, Copenhagen, Budapest, maybe). Thinking. Planning. Devising. Dreaming. Here we go. Next!

READY TO CONTINUE THIS conversation? Good.

I invite you to S P A C E!… the orientation is free… just click any of the boxes to go to the page to add your name and contact. More from there.


 

From new angles

THIS WEEK IN S P A C E, some sharing.

Of how we got to ‘N’…

  • 1997. ‘Let’s start a design studio. I’ll set up a hotmail.’
  • 1999. ‘You what? You want to hire us? Oh… Sure, yeah. I’ll do that. I have Freehand.’
  • 2000. ‘Let’s move. You can work at __.’
  • 2004. ‘Let’s move. I’ll work at __.’
  • 2006. ‘Let’s do that design studio thing we talked about. Should we get an office? Official! Shall we get an $800 color laser printer? Yes!’
  • 2007. ‘What the? People think design is Photoshop. Like, it’s the tools that matter, or something. Why? It’s not! Design isn’t about the pixels. It’s about the conversation. How good the conversation is will be a direct influencer in how strong the concept will be. Because it has to come from the person who wants to… It’s about… getting there… together, learning about the story of them, and listening… Isn’t that… obvious? No? Well, hm.’
  • 2008. ‘Let’s host some conversation parties.’
  • 2009. ‘This is. Interesting. But why is it so intense? Why is real life conversation so hard? Should we do this more? Should we make them into workshoppy things?’
  • 2013. ‘Argh. I prefer just mini-conversations to workshoppy things. People have too many… expectations. Half the fun is exploring! Let’s forget workshops. Let’s forget design in general. Let’s focus on conversations. Of quality. Yes! Conversations of quality are getting really tough to make happen. Outside of my couple of standing dates with __ and __, I just don’t feel like things are progressing. So, hm. What should we do? Maybe go on the road. That’ll shake things up.’
  • 2014. ‘I like this place. Phnom Penh. Can we stop here for a bit? I love this architecture.’
  • 2015. ‘This is fun. I’m going to do this thing. ’16N’. On NORMALITY. You know, I think I’ll give it a whirl…’
  • 2016. ‘Wow. That was fun. How about taking it on the road?’
  • 2017. ‘How about making ‘N’ in Hanoi?…’

HELLO, there, Hanoi…

Shall we play 16N?

Yes! >

 

 

Starting all over

A NEW THING started today.

We are opening a new circle of conversation participants in virtual dialogue. It’s called THE VILLAGE. Reading the applications always gives me such a feeling of great warmth, because, as much as I want to quit all this email and blogging and have high-quality real life adventures at the salons, the truth is… bunches of people don’t really show up for those, anymore. I mean, they did, in the 1990s and the 2000s, it was like you throw a party and wham, it’s packed, and you have people coming in off the street to your office, ground-level (the one in Seattle) or up a hill (the one in rural Ireland) and mixing and joking and jamming with you about philosophy, art, food, design, jazz, software, architecture and making meaning.

But things are different now, aren’t they? We are emailing. We are texting. We don’t really talk in real life when we meet. Sometimes we go out of our way to avoid meeting when we might meet, when we see someone and literally avoid their eye. (This is why I left Seattle, ultimately, to return to North Carolina… where I used to feel people might smile and say hey from the front porch, and say, ‘How y’all doin’?’, and while they did, they really did, it just… it just wasn’t the same as before… all this… internet.)

A. says I should embrace technology instead of hating it. I guess that’s fair. I use it. Really, if it weren’t for internet I wouldn’t be able to write and share like this, like I’m doing right now. Connect. And connecting is important to me. So I feel… sad about disconnection. I miss the fervor and height of actually enjoying being in a place in real life—freely conversing, unrecorded, undocumented. Where people eat their food without taking a photo of it first, and they can sustain a dialogue without having to go and check something online, or type while pretending to listen to you. Ugh. That’s the worst. Is technology making us less human? I wondered. Wrote a little more on this topic, not so ranty, I hope, at this post.

THE VILLAGE. A lot of people have been in correspondence with me through the last few years about ** work, family, and relationships ** and I thought it might be neat to bring us together in a forum-style space. Working title is THE VILLAGE. The idea is to convene a small group, as we design and build this next thing (a book? another co-created anthology? something else?) together as we go. Does that sound interesting to you? Connect with me through the form on this page, if  yes… Plus, I’ll share with you the ‘why’ of this stuff, if you want to know? Ask me. I have a one-pager, now, thanks to a hearty conversation with MC.

SELF Ha Noi

MAKE A SPACE for reflection in this relaxed, prompt-led evening workshop.

SELF offers you a chance for you to discover, along with a small group of new and different others, a Concept of You. Built from 10 years of experience designing brand identities for curious and inquiring people in Seattle and, more recently, hosting conversation salons on a wide mix of topics to explore ways of talking together in Bangkok, Malmoe, and Phnom Penh. Walk away with a clear, three-word summary that describes with flair and accuracy Who You Really Are. ‘To thine own self, be true,’ et al. Limited seats, advance bookings only. More here.

Image: ‘Magazine pieces’ from the Distracte series by Design Kompany 2015