Coming to your city to host a 16-way blind date

THE MOMENT.

The sharing. The conversation.

The !*. The a-ha.

Call it what you will, I’m looking for it. That snap that happens in an intuitive, time-slowing way is the stuff of what, lately, I’ve been calling in my head, and DK rambled about here, ‘the good stuff.’

It’s not about any particular style, place, personality, or setting. I used to think it was. There are lists in my journals about those kinds of things, the sorts of conversations that are really great happening in X particular circumstances, say, and the noting of that. But what came next, when, after 20 years of looking closely at how to design great space for dialogue, was disappointment. You can’t really engineer everything. Flatness happened. A zen master had warned me, with the scribble in an old, old notebook when I was a student in Kyoto on exchange: ‘You can never set foot in the same river twice.’

Twiceness is impossible.

Tried it. Failed to find the magic moment.

Noted.

So what, then, about framing onceness?

Onceness

WHAT IF WE COULD do THAT, frame ‘onceness,’ then? Focus. Instead of designing how the chairs and lights and tables and floor-to-ceiling windows and weather and patio and particularly curated groups of people are arranged, I’m thinking of those namecards some people who like to throw parties will put up on fancily laid-out tables in some setting where there are also carnations and you feel like a wedding photographer might be lurking by. [What are all these lifestyle blogs about, by the way? Is that the way it is now? Bicycle says things are now about food porn and not geekiness, as they were in our day, but still. Food porn? Emojis? Really?]

So let’s do this. Let’s talk about ONCENESS, I said, back in 2015, when there was a mountain in Vietnam and I was on it, week of retreating, without the devices, getting offline and being by myself. ‘Sitting,’ as some say. With the uncomfortable awareness that time is moving fast, and slow, and rivers and currents and eddies and ports and harbors and oceans and flows, flows, flows are shifting and assenting, alighting or embarking and here we are, in the midst. Poised, for a second, or maybe an eternity?, on a rock, there I was. Spacing out. And, that was when it came to me. The idea of making ‘N’. Sixteen people, who don’t know one another, making a commitment. To the other people, to the host (that would be yours truly), but mostly, and this is the important part, which it took me two years to figure out, to themselves. To themselves! Yes. The work of making space is about intention-setting. I had thought this meant laying out a nice theme or topic or picking a great venue. I’d imagined, too, it was about the people who chose to show up, but no. No, no, no. It’s about showing up. And I have been talking about this for a while now, in many unpopular ways, amongst peers and colleagues and acquaintances and strangers. I am doing ’16N’ in a couple of great cities of the world (which have ‘N’ in them) to bring strangers to get her to talk for a short while about a topic that starts with an ‘N’. Yes, these are arbitrary constraints, but they are the frames that bound the ‘bounded box.’

I gotta talk about the ‘quality of space’ checklist to you, or to you if you are interested, I should say. Ask me about that. I can send you the PDF. I am fine with sharing. I like that. But just, more recently, not so publicly. (Can you tell?)

This one’s for the people who are on for it, with me. I’ll show up, that’s a given. I commit. I’ve put it on the Internet, so see? I’m gonna be there. But.. The question is… Are you? Read more about ’16N’: http://designkompany.com/16N or check out the unfolding story: http://designkompany.com/blog/tag/play16n

Made in S. P. A. C. E.

A story in Ha Noi begins: ’16N’

IT IS TIME to go to Viet Nam again.

A lot of conversations in virtual space, lately.

About Ha Noi, and ‘N’, and what that is. And why we’re doing it.

‘You know, if you want people to be interested in what you’re doing, you should show that you are doing it because you get something out of it. That was the number one question I’d gotten, from N in Phnom Penh and Bangkok and in person when I was in London and Copenhagen, too. I wanted to get sixteen people together for a conversation salon, about a topic that would start with an N, and in cities that have N’s in them. That was the criteria. I thought it was a fun game. But you know what people wanted to know?’

‘What?’

‘What’s in it for you, DK?’

‘…’

‘What the heck is the point of it all? Some were more vocal and opinionated than otehrs. But I think the point of it all is very obvious, to me, anyway. And then I find little bits and pieces that other, smarter people have written and posted about how as human beings what we really do well is connect in person, eye-to-eye, and when that happens we can normalize our own ideas about things and we can feel more lively, alive, you know?’

‘…’

‘So I know to some it seemed like a social experiment. I got some really strong hate mail from the Phnom Penh person who professed to be a creative person but was totally irritated with me for trying to ask him to come to something and pay a whopping sixteen bucks… that was the first one, and you know, how in Phnom Penh everyone’s so ketchi, yeah?, Yeah. At first these notes used to make me really cringe inside, like I was doing it wrong. But then… then I found out from the OTHER people, the ‘whynotsayyes’ types, that it was a GOOD thing to be of an opinion. That it MATTERED to take a stand, take a side, and ‘push back on the culture of maybe.’ Oh, I want so much to go into the details here… how it got planned, designed, why I am going to be doing it in Ha Noi, and then back to Europe… Bologna…’

‘But what’s in it for you, DK?’

‘Yeah! I know, right? This is the stuff of living, if you ask me. Being around other people who are interested in big questions, but aren’t getting space to ask them because it’s uncool to talk about metaphysics and cool to talk about [DELETED], which has NO bearing on the quality of my life and has no way of adding to it in any way but seems to be the topic of interest not because it’s interesting but because it’s socially acceptable! MORES, and what’s ‘socially acceptable’ IS NOT WHAT IS GOOD FOR US, most of the time, because what’s SOCIALLY ACCEPTABLE is drudgery and ennui and living in a box of computing and digital messes and head games and disintegration of integrity and flakiness and banality and the Society of the Spectacle and media outlets that are buying up all the spaces so that the good stuff is getting drowned in the sea of irrelevance that Huxley talked about but OH, I can’t get all… I can’t do that… I can’t get all ENNUI and WOE IS US about HUMANITY, did you konw HUMANITY is ending? This month? That next month the theme for S. P. A. C. E. is swithing to KAIROS? It’ll be good for me to get out of this doomy gloomy spot where I think a lot of artists, writers, and scientists were back when they came up with the A-bomb, back when there was all that sadness around the fact that humanity had this thing to it, this streak, the sorrow… Krishnamurti’s eloquent take on it… the sorrow within us, and then that Dao stuff… I did a lot of research for this sequnce, you konw. I might need to put a little paper together summing it up, a PDF. I’ll do that. I’ll make it available to people who join me at N for Ha Noi, how about that. And maybe for the new subscribers to S. P. A. C. E., too. There is good stouff on the tables, for it… I’m looking forward to it… wow. I’m looking forward to the KAIROS. And N! N is about MAKING IT HAPPEN. Kairos. Framing the moment, designing rooms for great dialogue and connection. Celebrating the urgency of NOW.’

‘Dude. That sounds really esoteric and inaccessible.’

‘Well. That’s who I am. And this is the kind of stuff I make. And I am looking for 16 people who want to talk about a topic starting with N in Ha Noi when I get there. We’ll make it up, together. We’ll do this one differently from the other topic-setting ones. I will ask the people who are asking me, WTF is N, DK?’ And we will design it, together.

ARE YOU IN HA NOI? Want to be part of it?

Get ‘N’…


Get N

STAMMTISCH #5 || A salon about the creative process and why we bother to make, design

Update: In April 2018, DK are hosting this event for creatives in Phnom Penh and who are passing through to talk about the process of “making” and “making a living,” and how those two things relate to one another. Inspired by conversations with “digital nomads” in Indonesia, Thailand, and Malaysia, plus a budding interest in something *new* that will get us offline and looking at one another, made DK become interested in restarting the real-life Monday meet ups that we used to do in a past life in Seattle. The fifth ‘Stammtisch’ is going to be in Phnom Penh this coming Monday. Limited seats. Advance bookings only. It’s $15 to participate. Register here.

***

Artrepreneurship: ‘Is it right for me?’

Photo: OMNI Photostudios

SALON & MEETUP FOR DESIGNERS. This is the fifth time that we will host STAMMTISCH in Phnom Penh. We’ll make it short, sweet and a chance to mingle with creative people based in this city or just passing through. STAMMTISCH #5 in Phnom Penh on Monday is designed to be very small, and a chance to share some of the creative projects we are all working on.

DK is seeking creative people to connect and interconnect in real life. STAMMTISCH is s a traveling series. This started in an earlier form as ‘Designers Korner’ in Seattle 2006-2009 at Stumbling Monk and Vermillion Gallery in Capitol Hill. After that we circled to other places: Durham NC, Raleigh, Bangkok, and Phnom Penh. Join us for the next conversations. Details will be announced on our calendar for where, but it’s always on Monday, 4-6:30PM. (Can’t come because you have ‘work?’ Well, this is by design meant to be for people who are in charge of their own schedules. Makes for a more intriguing conversation, we’ve found, that way.)

Design Kompany events have been featured in GOOD magazine, North Carolina’s Independent Weekly, Seattle’s The Stranger, and Asia Life Cambodia.

WHO SHOULD COME TO STAMMTISCH #5. You also have a difficult time accepting ‘schools of design’ or fads. You will have earned your chops, but know when to keep your eyes and ears open. You are naturally curious and want to connect with the world in a meaningful way. You care about quality. You know that ultimately, your toughest client is yourself. You are someone who has worked in a design field for long enough to know that networking with others who’ve also got some experience is time valuably spent. That’s because we have different approaches to overlapping concerns: choosing our clientele, continuing to innovate and grow our businesses, how to best develop new products and services, and where to uncover new opportunities.

WHY THIS MATTERS. The world is changing, and the ‘how’ of making work work is something we can learn from one another in a conversation salon like this: real-time, real-life conversations with others also doing, making, sharing and growing. DK seeks others who are interested in learning about the way others think, that is, who are open to new ways of trying things. Ultimately, we make a break from the old thinking of ‘this is how it’s always been done.’ Status quo kills beauty in design. That’s what we feel. Let’s meet and connect and share what’s been interesting and new, in person, on this Monday afternoon. STAMMTISCH is one of our many kinds of  S P A C E. Making spaces for us to meet and talk, like for real, and about things that matter, and in ways that connect and engage us, is the ‘why’ of making S P A C E.

WHAT YOU’LL GET. Are you a designer? Do you work with people? Are you interested in talking more with others who do both? You’ll get a chapter of Design Kompany’s collection S P A C E || Circumference, when you register for a ticket.

LIGHT PROGRAM. Perhaps you’re interested in talking shop—about international business styles and how they vary, about lessons lessons learned from growing a business that continues to evolve, about trends and chapters in the emerging fields of digital technologies, communications, and how we relate to others through visual composition, through words, through Snaps… Let’s meet and talk more. A light program will be shared with those who confirm attendance. Meet us on 2F of Java, the one by Independence Monument.

HOW TO REGISTER

Very limited seats, and advance bookings only, please. This is where to go to register for a ticket.

Get a ticket. // Photo: Phnom Penh Post

How to want less so you can experience more

‘MILLENIALS. I just…’

‘…’

‘No.’

‘Hm?’

‘Can’t work with them.’

‘Hm?’

‘You know. People in their thirties, for example. Mostly those ones. They get all weirded out and want to investigate every opportunity in the universe. But they don’t actually decide on anything. And then, when they don’t, they can’t really… well, I don’t wanna judge or anything, but they seem… really… um… Well, it’s not nice but… confused. Or at least… something that… Hm. Let me put it this way. I wish people could just relax, you know? And notice that if you want less, you can experience more.’

*nodding*

rlcK7DX5

But really I love millenials, I think

‘SO I’VE JUST DECIDED. I’M NOT GOING TO TALK TO THEM. Okay. Maybe that’s not fair.’

‘…’

‘But really, what it comes down to, I think, what I’ve learned from 20 years of design, is that it’s about editing. What was that famous quote? About essentials?’

‘Simplicate and add lightness?’

‘No, no, the other one.’

‘This one?:’

‘Perfection is finally attained not when there is no longer anything to add, but when there is no longer anything to take away …’

‘YES.’

‘…’

‘But distractions get in the way. Other options are distractions. FOMO is a distraction.’

‘…’

‘And phones. PHONES. What really kills me is the phone thing. How a phone becomes a kind of appendage and it’s weird, you know?’

‘…’

‘I can’t do it anymore. They talk to you while they’re looking at screens. It’s so awkward. How can you have a quality conversation with that kind of stuff going on?’

‘…’

(you don’t have to take my word. you wanna hear it from someone else? Like this famous white dude?)


‘I’m not saying they have to pay attention to me or anything, well, maybe I am saying that, but yeah. Okay. But I am saying… well, there is this other person sitting there and looking at you and giving you their whole attention and well, it’s just… it’s annoying. I think it’s a different kind of culture. Yeah, if I put it that way, it’s not personal. Anyway, I can’t be bothered.’

‘You sound like you’ve made up your mind.’

‘I think [Millenials] could use some simple framing. Simplicity-making. To get clarity on things. Anyway I like the new young people. The like, 22 year old and stuff ones. They don’t talk with their screens always on and poking at you, like it’s no big deal to call up a picture of someplace to illustrate with a digital thingy what they want to tell you. Like information is more important. Than eye contact. But the younger ones, they actually look at you. And listen. They listen! I’m…. I was really shocked when I met a few, this past trip to Europe. I met them and they listened. Like—without phone-checking.’

‘Phones. Bother you, huh.’

‘Yeah. I don’t have one.’

‘You don’t have a phone?’

‘No.’

‘… wait. How does that work?’

‘It’s not that complicated. It’s like the nineties, is all.’rlcK7DX5

Phoneless in Phnom Penh

‘YOU ASK THE YOUNG TWENTYSOMETHINGS simple questions and they don’t go all frenetic on you. You can be pointed. You can say, ‘What are you worried about?” or “What’s next?” You don’t have to worry that they’ll take it like you’re their uncle and interrogating them. They accept the challenge of it, and answer honestly. They really do. They entertain the questions and they are careful in their response-making. They don’t waste their breath or get all crazy about FOMO. They just don’t. I like that. I like these new people, coming up.’

‘So what are you going to do?’

‘NOTHING.’

‘…’

‘Okay. Well,. I think I’ll do SELF.’

‘For the Millenials?’

‘Mostly. Yeah. Or for whoever thinks it’s cool to think about things slowly and work out what’s important to them.’

‘What’s it about?’

S P A C E.

More like this, and exclusives

THIS POST originally appeared in our online eZine, S. P. A. C. E. Get it and discover what people around the world are saying about their creative process, when you become a patron of DK.

Become a patron of DK

‘You need a net, though’

‘YOU MEAN THE GUY WHO CAME OVER, and slept on the bed, in the extra room?’

‘Yeah.’

‘That room, really? The one with all the mosquitoes? And NO NET?’

‘Yeah, yeah. When we used to live there.’

‘I can’t believe… That room had no net, dude.’

‘I know. But it was him. I had to like go over there and talk to him and ask him, it was you, wasn’t it? You’ve been to my house? And then, he was like, “Hai.”‘

‘Japanese people. Shy.’

‘…’

‘TOO shy.’

‘…’

‘What’s all that shyness gonna get you?’

‘…’

‘Say.’

‘No.’

‘Anyway, he seemed nice. I hope he comes to game night.’

S P A C E || Washing yarn and drawing mangoes

‘HEY.’

‘Hey.’

‘How did it go…?’

‘Really, really well. I am so… Inspired. To keep doing this sort of thing. You know, I keep on wondering if anyone’s reading or listening or anything and then, wham! It hits, like a juggernaut, heh, I just wanted to say “juggernaut.”‘

*smiles all around*

‘But you know? There was this moment of suddenly waking up, like as if, as if the whole thing about collecting scraps of Camus and Poincare’s stuff and bits and pieces over time, how many years now?–‘

‘Twenty.’

‘–yeah, twenty!, jeez, anyway, I think it has been worth it. Taking it on this journey. Around the world, and all that. I have the handful of books, the books that when I hold them give me a feeling—that’s what I was talking about with—‘

‘Hey. I uh, Um… Can you, um?’

‘Oh, oh. Yeah, sorry. What time is it? Lunch in a few? And you have to get across town for that meeting, okay okay. But the point is, the point is!, that you know what? There isn’t really a point, but the thing I learned is that there is definitely room for this kind of thing. Space making and stuff. Getting it up and organized, the dialogue rooms, even if they’re borrowed spaces, that’s actually part of it, I think the charm of the special focus and thematic arrangement, as if a composition is coming together. I’m not musical, but I like it, and no, I love it, when there’s something fusing in a way that feels right. Feels good. Quality is what you like, remember? Remember that big ol’ book that had that in it? Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance? That you wanted me to read in the 1990s? And I was like, duh, no way, that’s a book about some dude and a road trip, and you know, later, way later, it was way more than that…  It was about seeking things that are more interesting and intriguing and feel good.’

‘…’

‘So yeah. I’m gonna keep going.’

‘You’re gonna keep making conversation salons? But I thought you were done with real life ones. That you were going to do the online things, like the magazine and the workshops?’

‘Oh, well, yeah. I have had such a great time with the conversations in S. P. A. C. E., and so, I got distracted. I stopped really doing anything with people in person anymore. And I guess not since Denmark, not since showing up and running about to see what might happen have I made any efforts in that dimension because, because, well, I think Phnom Penh is a bit slow on this sort of thing. I mean, not Phnom Penh… The expat scene here… The people I’m talking to, or I think I’m talking to. I think they’re a little bit too by-the-book, you know? Like, no scruffiness, no out of the box, nothing out of the extraordinary. So in form are they with the status quo that something that purports to buck the status quo—as simple and quiet as a salon is, in raising questions about how we are existing and the beliefs we buy wholesale without critique–well, I think it’s just… Sort of… Um. Odd to them.’

‘Uh-huh.’

‘I mean, the whole thing is just too esoteric, or at least, that’s what I thought. But I’m reading a lot online and going through all these bits and notes like I said and yeah, I’m seeing the commonalities. The big thinkers in physics and psychology and even the motivated business leadership they talk about doing the thing you’re the Best in the World at, and I think… I think.. It’s starting to be clear, after two DECADES, that there is… There HAS to be a way to enjoy the engagements that come together in offline, non-agenda, common space in semi-public rooms where people converge from very disparate backgrounds and origins in order to discuss that which touches our core, as humans. As human beings, you know? Not cogs in wheels in some system that’s been designed by people who just want us to Work so Hard that we are constantly Busy (with what? For who? To what end? And how is it adding to our own long-term value-making, by the way?) for some reason. It’s gig to gig with people here, contract to contract. They’re not even trying, some of ’em. The quality—the competency—is dodgy, mate. It really is. It’s disappointing that people who aren’t interested in aspiring to be more, but just complacent with the paycheck and the pretense of being busy with something (though they can’t succinctly tell you what that something is), I mean… It’s… Gobsmacking.’

‘Uh….’

‘Don’t worry. I won’t write it up or anything. I won’t make a big noise about how disappointed I am when people aren’t, uh, very good… at seeing there’s way the hell more out there to do and be and seeking is part of it and it’s a choice…Whew, sounds harsh, but I think my people know already that there’s the rest, out there, way closer than anyone lets on… I need to gather them into these salons, so they can relax and engage and talk—I think that’s my Thing, you know? What I have to do, what DK is about… What Making Space can be for people is pretty… What’s the word… I guess you just have to experience it… Plus it could evolve, you know? It could… Be something. I can see myself taking this to Seattle and Portland—I think they’d remember DK from the past, perhaps? It’s not like there’s SUCH a big populace there and heck, why not just reconnect with a few… And…

‘…’

‘Well, hey. I just promise I won’t complain. I’ll just…’

‘What?’

‘Keep going with the salons. Or whatever comes up next. Maybe they’ll catch on, in time, when there are enough people embittered with a system that takes and takes and doesn’t give them anything in return that makes their lives feel good. Feeling good, right? I mean, quality, right? I mean, yeah! I’m gonna do it.’

‘Do it. I’ve gotta—‘

‘Yeah, okay. Say hi to C.’

‘But dude, what’s that thing about yarn and mangoes?’

‘Oh, right. Remember when you said when we were younger that if you want to start knitting, and you were in Japan, and you were serious, you don’t just start with a set of needles, right, you have to kinda start from the very VERY beginning. Washing yarn.’

*laughing* ‘I didn’t say that. Did I? Someone else must’ve.’

‘No. You did.’

‘And?’

‘And when it comes to drawing, like those ones from The Cloud place the other day that I made, when I followed some people over there? Yeah, that time. I mean, live drawing isn’t something you just go in cold and start, the same way you don’t just go in and start knitting without knowing the yarn through and through, right? So I said, I said to people there, if you want to draw the human figure, I recommend starting with something else. And they said, “What?” And I said, maybe cause it’s the season, I said, “Draw mangoes.”‘ –JP

 

Choices

This event has ended. Stay connected. Get tips, notes, essays, and exclusive Q&A interviews on how we decide the steps that come next in our work, lives, and the universal that ties them: the creative process. Subscribe to our eZine S. P. A. C. E.

The work is in the doing

GOING THROUGH THE EMAIL. Doing the work. ‘N’ work, that is. I have got a new list of invitees to reach out to, an old one to follow up with, and the rest.

Got to talk to more than 100 people if I can find 16 to say ‘yes’ to ‘N’. (Learned this from ‘N’ Phnom Penh and ‘N’ Bangkok last year, phew.)

MAKING ’16N’. This is the biggest project DK has taken on so far: gather strangers in one moment of a conversation, in a space designed and hosted by one of us. In a city that starts with an ‘N’. It’s kinda nuts.

But why? Why even bother?

People do ask this. A lot. Why does this work matter to you guys? Why does it mean anything to get people who don’t know each other to meet, and talk, offline, in real life?

Long story, this. I’ll cut to the chase. Without discovering people and their ideas—of new ways, new to a person, that is—that person can’t grow. Adapt based on new inputs. Learn.

Part of maturing is, sure, about being open-minded.

But you can be as open-minded as you want and sit alone in an armchair reading books and not really having active knowledge of what it’s like to look directly at the eyes and straight through them, into the heart, of the Other.

Other doesn’t have to be Scary.

Other can reveal something to us about… ourselves.

(Enter Jung. Exit Jung).

Othering.

This is a term that just walked into my world one day in recent conversation with DM. It’s weird. I never thought… But then, of course…. And so….

My Western colleagues and I have been programmed to fear or disdain or isolate ourselves from Others.

Others who think about a different kind of clothing to wear (this as teens).

Others who are not like us in physical appearance.

Beliefs, dogmas (dangerous, this last one, but I’ve said why in 30K words in a book you can find here).

Others who may, just maybe, judge us. Fear.

Fear is put into us because we don’t know.

But physics! Physics at the very small scales is ALL ABOUT not knowing!

‘We have no idea where that bit got off to,’ et al.

The mystery of the universe becomes a fun thing to think about, to conjecture. I talked about this with a particle physicist, SW, who had been touring about in Asia with some kind of software. It was a random encounter and an unlikely conversation, but taht was the upshot. ‘Where did it all start? Where soup did we all come from, anyway?’ More just me marvelling into the cloudy nothing, awed about the whole of the every. (Kind of gets metaphysical, huh.)

No one has to be right. Contrary to all the stuff that we’re taught to believe (getting famous is good, the great genius and his remarkable breakthrough is to be sought, etc), it’s not like anyone can ‘figure it all out’ without any sort of input. And the richness of that input is what invites fertile ground for sowing the sorts of seeds that lead to brilliant blooms.

Getting poetic, now. Sometimes that just happens.

Anyway, the point: No one human being alone can know.

But what if we could know, at least a little, the feeling of Other and the Unknown? Through bit by bit engagement? As in, a little bit at a time of learning what another way is like? You don’t have to take a college course to experience a little bit of, ‘Huh, that’s new.’ You can just have a conversation salon.

NEW DIRECTIONS. Starting things up. In the staged spaces of Designful Meetups. More than anything, the work is about the invitation. Which is why there are so many of these going out, this week and through the weekend. Why?

The invitation is THE most important part.

Of quality spacemaking, that is. Subject for another day.

Unless you feel like you’re personally invited to something, unless you feel like the sender is someone who actually cares if you’re part of the story they’re making, then it’s going to fall on deaf ears. You know what else? Everyone says they’re so busy and stuff, but what are people so busy with? That kind of intentional decisionmaking of where to spend time on what and with whom is kinda important. Because before we know it, our time’s gonna be up.

When people get together for ‘N,’ for example, when they meet to talk together—16 people per city—and talk on topics that start with an ‘N,’ it starts to be clear.

The arbitrary nature of constraints like ‘Has to have an N in it (the city, the venue)’ and ‘You have to get a ticket ahead of time, since I want to really make sure this is going to happen and not just let’s just talk about it)’, these.

These are frames.

To design a space.

To hinge a great dialogue—but maybe that’s too heavy a word—a great conversation jam upon.

The secret? It doesn’t matter WHO comes or WHAT happens in the box. The point is that it HAPPENS. Which means all the work of designing ‘N’ is, quite honestly, in the drudge work of slogging through email and making tons and TONS and EVEN MORE invitations. Because I’m looking for the magic set of 16. Sixteen in each of 16 cities, eventually (2 have happened so far), who will say, ‘Yes.’

If you’re a new invitee, I get it. You don’t know me from Adam. Don’t know what’s involved. And I’m asking you to just trust the process. Walk into the unknown.

When it works, it’s cool. I love it.

A wide mix opts in, I’m noticing. (Gotta start with 100, though.)

But…

That means no cliques, clubs, or preaching-to-the-choirs. It’s hard, this, because everyone is programmed to think, ‘Wait. Is this about ME? Or is this something ELSE? Is this OTHER?’ Which makes it kinda tricky.

Hm.

Okay, yeah.

The box.

You get enough framing up (date, place, time, people) and you have a bounded box.

A safe space.

You step into that space and meet.

We meet.

Guests and me. Their hos for ‘N,’ for example, and other conversation salons, workshops, commissioned facilitation thingies, and so on.

BUT THE MOST IMPORTANT PART OF THE LEARNING for DK has been to discover that whatever happens IN the box isn’t the point.

All salons and events—for commission or for fun—are about gathering people in spaces where they might feel a little out of their usual routine, meeting people they might not have otherwise have met. Most consistent feedback is, ‘I had so many great conversations. We talked about __, but I never thought about  it that way before.’

You get a lot of molecules together and they start heating up and guess what, they get ‘excited.’ That’s what we called them, in science class, in seventh grade, didn’t we? Molecules are getting excited. Excited states are fantastic. You get amped. Wait, no. That’s voltage…

So what am I doing today? Making the invitations.

Emailing like mad.

The new invites.

For ‘N’.

London, Copenhagen, Ha Noi, Bologna. The work is in the doing… We have to get 16 per city… That means 100×4… 400 invitations…

It’s gonna be a little busy, hunkering down over the internet these next few days.

Making my way around the world, looking for people to play 16N.

When 16 vectors cross in a bounded box: ‘N’

SO TO REMOVE SOME OF THE MYSTERY behind ‘N’, which you may have been invited to in recent days, I wanted to let you in on the story.

Because after one year and a little bit, ‘N’ is becoming clearer.

As clear as a variable can be, that is.

A variable that also happens to have the little arrow above it, indicating it’s a vector.

A vector, recall from geometry, is a point that has a line poking out of it, extending infinitely in that one specific direction. ‘We’re on a particular vector here…’

So when the idea of getting 16 people together who didn’t know one another in a designed, hosted and comfortable space for conversation that’s not boring or predictable came up, the image of sixteen vectors crossing in a point sort of popped out of the chaos of the randomness of that which was around me, at that time, in that particular moment. It started to be clear then that the moment was important for me. Not just when I make my zines and collages and try to go with the feeling, to celebrate the sensation of just improvising on the spot and making it up as I go, but in reality, too. (Reality? Whatever is reality? That’s a philosophical conversation for another time, perhaps in S. P. A. C. E.) But for now, the story of ‘N’.

BRICOLEUR. I LIKE THE IDEA OF HAPPENING upon things. Of finding small bits and pieces around me, and collecting them. Those who know me well know that I am a terrible hoarder of magazines, especially when they are beautifully laid out with lovely typesettings. And typefaces. And general colors, and the paper is nice, and, and… Happening upon the spaces in which I discover these pieces is as much a part of my zinemaking as the materials that collide, somehow, together to become the booklets and studies and once-off collages that for some reason seem to me to do that thing I realize now that ‘N’ also wants to do. Freeze-frame a moment.

A particular coincidental crossing of… people, in the case of the real-life event ‘N’, or in the case of the making of tickets for ‘N’-going guests, the pieces that happen to fall into my space in the just-beforeness of the events.

So it seems natural that the tickets for ‘N’ Phnom Penh were built of magazines I found around the time that was about to happen (April 2015), and that the ones for ‘N’ Bangkok were made of a draft for an eBook I was writing all about that city—some highlighted where errors needed attending to, all of them 8-page minibooklets, and some of them with messages from guests of the first ‘N’, here in Phnom Penh…

Pictured at the top of this page is today’s work: starting to create tickets for the ‘N’ event in Hanoi. Just 16, as always. See 16N >

Making them from bits and pieces I picked up in Denmark.

These tickets will be distributed to guests who’ll be invited to register to ‘N’ in Hanoi.

It’s all very lighthearted, I think, in the approach?

I mean, I’m not sure of how to answer people’s questions that pop up over and over again as I invite guests to ‘N’ salons around the world…

‘Why are you doing this? What’s in it for you?’

Um. Hm.

Can I punt on that, for now?

I think in my heart of hearts, I just can’t help it. I can’t help doing this because I see that it brings people together for awesome conversations. The kind that aren’t boring, and the kind I just love. I imagine this is what people aim to do when they have receptions for various giant occasions—but it’s small-scale and differently approached. Still, the bringing-together of people for a moment of great dialogue with those whose paths they’d not have crossed, really excites me.

I’VE MADE MORE THAN 400 invitations so far for ‘N’ events in the four cities:

  • ‘N’ London: NOTEWORTHINESS (6 ‘ticket-yeses’ so far)
  • ‘N’ Copenhagen: NEARNESS (5 ‘ticket-yeses’ so far)
  • ‘N’ Phnom Penh: NORMALITY (16 ‘ticket-yeses’ with ‘N’ held in April 2015 at NUK Cafe)
  • ‘N’ Bangkok: NOW (16 ‘ticket-yeses’ with ‘N’ held in October 2015 at Nikko Cafe)

THE GAME. Of the four cities, 2 have seen ‘N’ happen. Sixteen people got tickets, and mutually agreed a date. If that sounds bizarre, it kind of is. But I’m more interested in finding people who say ‘yes’ than those who say ‘when.’ If that makes sense? I’m looking for commitment, and yeah, it’s probably not the easiest thing to say ‘yes’ to, this idea of pre-registering and then deciding a date with someone you’ve never seen or worked with in the past. But you know what? I love the people I am meeting through ‘N.’ Not in an overly intimate, ‘best friends’ kind of way. I mean in a mutually respectful, ‘Yeah, I see you, and I see you saying, what the hey, it’s only a couple of quid and a couple of hours—who knows what might happen?’ way.

I’m looking for the spirit of start, taking a little chance on a thing. Just… a small one. Onceness is the thing. That’s why invitations expire, too.

‘I’M NOT JUST A NUMBER.’ Because did you ever notice how people collect friends, as though we’re numbers? That’s part of why I don’t have a personal FB page, and why I deleted my personal twitter. It’s why I don’t like it when people ask me first thing for my FB, because I’m pretty sure they don’t really care about what I care about and most likely we’ll never have a real conversation online. I guess what I wanted to do was to create an event like ‘N,’ in which 16 variables (16N) represent 16 people, who become real and complex and three-D and have feelings and opinions and can say things in a way that we can never say them online-only. Once. One moment. Of conversation. On a topic that starts with ‘N’. In a city that has an ‘N’ in it. And why 16? Oh, that’s because of 2^8. Clearly.

The framing of the moment is the big work of ‘N’… At least it is, for me…

WHAT HAPPENS NOW. I’m not even going to be able to predict this but that’s okay. I’ve been feeling great about the cool people I’m in conversations with about ‘N’ in London (NOTEWORTHINESS is our theme) and ‘N’ in Copenhagen (NEARNESS). Because I think this is a time when people really do want to connect offline, and in person, and without all that pressure that there is because wow, real life is intense. And often loaded with expectations (let me refrain from spelling these out—I think most of us know what I’m alluding to? and if not, send me a note through our contact page and I can share and we can start a conversation). Because quality comes when we can see each other, hear each other, and feel like we’re being seen and being heard.

So that’s what I task myself to do at each ‘N’. Allow everyone space. To feel included. Seen, and heard. It’s a big month, this one, for me and for invitation-making for ‘N’ events in London, Copenhagen and soon, Hanoi. As soon as I get these things glued together and finish each ticket with an ‘N’ vector insignia… Soon.

Trusting the process. Looking for whomever might become my guests for ’16N.’ Curious? Go here.

GUESTS. Did you attend an ‘N’? How did you receive it? Does this stuff resonate with you? I’m still ruminating, but I’d love to hear your thoughts. If you’ve been invited, well, feel free to ask me anything. Except, um, ‘The exact date is when?.’ I’m working on that, in a poll, with registered guests, right now. To be continued! —AS

Trust the creative process, find the art and magic

[Update: AS OF SEPTEMBER 2017, DK is making Atelier S P A C E. But before we began roving the world gathering people in real life for conversations about the creative process (and hands-on programmes designed to get us doing instead of just thinking about doing), we used to have these conversations in virtual spaces. The Q&A series that we made for our online magazine, S P A C E, continues to be a place where we return for inspiration. A past life in journalism led to the style of asking questions and diving deeper to explore what it is a person cares about most, what she wants to say about her work and how we can contextualize it to make what we learn relevant to a broader audience. Everything we do in S P A C E has to do with the connections between people, with interstitial spaces. That is why we are starting to share more openly some of the early Q&A’s that were originally exclusives for our online community, S P A C E, which subscribes each week to our ongoing conversations, learnings, resources, links, and musings about how we make, who makes, where we are, and why we do this work. For more information about S P A C E, go here.]

 

A CONVERSATION TODAY with North Carolina ceramics artist and a personal friend, Ronan Kyle Peterson.

Here is what he had to say about our theme this month, IMAGINE. We are discovering some shared interests in, amongst a few other things: work, cycles, and practice.

DK: I’ve seen your work evolve quite a bit in the last decade. What is it you are up to?

RKP: Essentially, I am dealing with effects of agents of growth and decay and how these agents shape and embellish the surfaces of stones and the skins of trees. Employing an earthy background palette stretched across textured but quieter surfaces, I wanted to upset that quiet earthiness with intense splashes of vibrant color, patterns, and glossy surfaces not commonly associated with tree bark or the rough surfaces of rocks amidst fallen leaves.

DK: Tell us your thoughts on ‘work’—what is it, who is it for, and why does it matter?

RKP: ‘Work’ noun-wise, would be the pots that I make to sell. Which references my ‘job’ or the verb ‘work’ that I do to make a living. The work for me is learning about color, how colors work together, how color and pattern changes perception of form, and how color pattern and texture can affect a person’s mood or perception of a pot.

The work that interests me, or the energizing part, is figuring out forms for functional purposes—cups and mugs for drinking, bowls for eating or serving from—and decorations or surface treatments that complement and complete the form.

DK: Why do you do what you do?

RKP: I make… because it makes me happy, fulfills a need, keeps me searching. I’m just infinitely blessed that others, customers, want to buy my pots and are interested for the most part in what, the work, that I am doing. It doesn’t matter in a larger context, but it does matter to me, because in the doing I am happy.

DK: Is that where the magic is? In the doing?

RKP: For me, the magic is in the making or the doing. Talking, wishing, and hoping do not get the job done. The magic is in the doing.

DK: A lot of people say they wish they had more time be an artist, make music, travel, write a book, and so on. What you would say to them?

RKP: I guess I would say, you just have to make it happen. And it will not just happen. A lot of times there has to be a sacrifice of something else: sleep, long meals, vegging out, tv, income, family time, socializing… Making time or sacrificing something else to make time seems to be hard for some people, because they are energized and content through socializing, etc. For me, working, making new work, exploring new forms, colors, combinations, that is what energizes me.

DK: What does rhythm mean to you?

RKP: Rhythm recently is not contained in one working cycle. Work is started, but not finished until later, spilling into the next cycle, and the next. It used to be frustrating, but I have found that through continued experimentation with form, color, and pattern, that ideas tend to belong aside one another: they are a continuation of thoughts I build on. I guess this speaks to an overall rhythm? I’m making a healthy offering of cups and mugs each cycle, but I have more larger pieces waiting to be finished. Now it is kind of nice to think more about the larger pieces, figure out different decorations and surface approaches that fit better, better than my original plan. I’ve started reglazing older pieces, [and] making different lids for jars. Revisiting sometimes resolves some deficiencies of the pieces. I have a general set of forms, but I’m trying out new things, mostly decoration-wise, every cycle.

Testing
PROTOTYPING. RKP’s instagram feed (and this image, in particular) caught DK’s eye for our sequence RHYTHM. ‘The image is from a kiln loading with a friend,’ he tells us. ‘Just showing how potters test glazes, not actual product or work, more process to figure out what glazes to use and how they will look in the firing.’

DK: Imagine two young people, maybe teens, who are thinking about artistic pursuits having a conversation, perhaps at a museum somewhere, and they know virtually nothing of the real experiences of people like you who have reached some sort of acceptance, it appears, in the methods you are using to make and do and share. What would you tell them?

RKP: I would say be patient. It takes a lot of time, and failing and observing, to figure things out. One thing that I try to keep in the forefront of my mind is how much help and support I have: I’ve worked for many potters with different styles and aesthetics, I have in-laws who let me use some of their space for a studio, I have galleries who work with me and for the most part allow me to bring them work that I choose to make. Growing that network, that support system, I think, is pretty crucial. And being patient, humble, and open to comment, advice and opportunities.

Discover more about RKP at his website.

Get S P A C E

Order the Book of Songs

IT’S NOT QUITE A CHAPBOOK, nor a novella, but rather a curation of some of the most intriguing people we’ve met in the last two decades. A curated collection of poetry and line art drawings. Some images are photographs of collages.

WANT TO ORDER the Book of Songs?

Order here >

WHAT IT IS. It’s not quite a chapbook, nor a novella, but rather a curation of some of the most intriguing people we’ve met in the last two decades. A curated collection of poetry and line art drawings. Some images are photographs of collages. Visuals were mostly made on the spot, live to music. Mostly jazz. Paired with poems, collages, most of the time done right there, on the spot. The Book of Songs is 8 poems and one short story. Each is inspired by someone pretty darn amazing, and there are links in the back to some of their sites. It’s also a dedication: this book is for the memory of Soknea Teang.

SPECIAL OFFER. Get a free track from the Norwegian free jazz band Gunslinging Bird Quartet when you order the Book of Songs. Pretty cool song, ‘If Your Mother Was a Hamster,’ comes with your order.

Get both in an instant download here.

Book of Songs
Book of Songs

 

‘Et eksempel er frygten for at udleve mine passioner’

Frygt og Lykke. A short essay by Aske Pedersen

I VIRKELIGHEDEN HANDLER det ikke om at skrive, men om at åbne mig op for andre mennesker. Og for mig selv. For at gøre dette, er jeg nødt til at smide min facade, mit uigennemtrængelige skjold af forsvarsmekanismer, og hvad sker der, hvis modparten ikke kan lide det den ser? Noget af det mest uhyggelige er at gøre sig sårbar, blot for at blive såret.

Update October 2018: S P A C E the zine begins in print with the new zine, ‘Janteloven.’  Learn more here.

 

image

TODAY, a guest post by Aske Pedersen from Aarhus, Denmark.

(English version here.)

Frygt og Lykke

JEG ER BANGE. Ikke for mørke, højder eller for at dø. Nej, jeg er bange for ikke at slå til, at være utilstrækkelig, og derfor foregår der en konstant kamp indeni mig. En kamp mellem frygt og lykke. Et eksempel er frygten for at udleve mine passioner.

Når folk spørger mig, hvad jeg virkelig godt kan lide, siger jeg næsten altid at skrive. Men hvorfor har jeg så ikke rørt tasteturet i snart et år? Jeg ved, at det gør mig glad, men noget holder mig alligevel tilbage. En del af min identitet og selvforståelse er bygget op omkring forestillingen om, at jeg er god til at skrive. Hvad sker der med mig, hvis forestillingen ikke holder? Hvis jeg virkelig giver det bedste jeg har, men det bare ikke er godt nok. Denne frygt holder mig fanget i en magtesløs og narcisistisk stilstand, hvor jeg gemmer mig for frygten og udskyder konfrontationen. “I dag er jeg træt, jeg skriver i morgen. I morgen har jeg travlt, men der er tid i næste uge.” Næste uge bliver til næste måned, og næste måned bliver til næste år. Frygten vinder kampen, og min selvfølelse bliver baseret på en løgn, som jeg ikke længere tror på. Men der er sket noget i kampen mellem frygt og lykke. Jeg skriver.

I virkeligheden handler det ikke om at skrive, men om at åbne mig op for andre mennesker. Og for mig selv. For at gøre dette, er jeg nødt til at smide min facade, mit uigennemtrængelige skjold af forsvarsmekanismer, og hvad sker der, hvis modparten ikke kan lide det den ser? Noget af det mest uhyggelige er at gøre sig sårbar, blot for at blive såret. Denne frygt holder mig fra de mest spændene samtaler, nye venskaber, kærester og evnen til at kunne elske rigtigt. I mødet med andre mennesker vælger jeg den nemme vej, hvilket for mig, er humoren. Ironi er blevet en så stor del af mig, at grænserne er blevet udhviskede. Jeg ved ikke længere, hvornår jeg er ironisk, og hvornår jeg ikke er. Måske har alt jeg siger en grad af ironi, hvilket betyder, at jeg kan sige stort set alt. Men mister mine ord så ikke betydning?

Det er ikke kun det jeg siger, det er også måden jeg lytter på. Ofte tager jeg mig selv i at udtænke mit næste svar, før modparten er færdig med at tale. På den måde er jeg sikker på at undgå den akavede stilhed, og samtidig kan jeg fremstå mere intellegent. Dog går der noget tabt i processen. Jeg glemmer at lytte, og jeg formår ikke at se mennesket overfor mig. I stedet kommer samtalen til at foregå på mine præmisser og ofte til at handle om mig. Måske er jeg nutidens narkissos, eller måske er jeg bare bange, eller måske er det én og samme ting.

Hvis man koger det ned, handler det om at tage den sikre vej i samværet med andre mennesker. I samtalen kommer vi ind på alle de selvskrevne emner som studievalg, vejret og geografiske placeringer, og så kommer der et par vittige bemærkninger. Bare så det hele ikke bliver for kedeligt. Det er ikke pinligt, ingen er blevet såret og alle har det fint. Fint… Hverken mere eller mindre. Men jeg gider ikke længere have det fint. For når målet er at undgå fiasko, udelukker jeg samtidig muligheden for succes. —AP


Fear and Happiness

I AM AFRAID. Not of darkness, heights or of dying. No, I am afraid of not being enough, of being inadequate. And because of that, there is a constant battle inside of me. A battle between fear and happiness.

An example is the fear to live out my passions. When people ask me what really lights my fire, I almost always say writing. But then why haven´t I touched the keyboard in almost a year? I know that writing makes me happy, but something is still holding me back. A part of my identity and self-understanding is based on the conception that I am good at writing. What happens to me if that conception breaks? If I really give it my best shot, but it´s just not enough. This fear keeps me in a powerless and narcissistic standstill, where I hide from the fear and delay the confrontation. “Today I’m tired, I will write tomorrow. Tomorrow I’m busy, but there should be time next week.” Next week becomes next month and next month becomes next year. Fear is winning the battle, and my self-esteem is based on a lie that I no longer believe in. But something has happened in the battle between fear and happiness. I am writing.

REALLY IT’S NOT AS MUCH about writing, as it is about opening up to other people. And to myself. To do this, I have to throw away my facade, my impervious shield of defense mechanisms, and what happens if the counterpart doesn’t like what it sees? One of the most frightening things is to make yourself vulnerable, only to get hurt. This fear holds me back from the most interesting conversations, new friendships, girlfriends and the ability to really love another person. When meeting other people I choose the easy option, which to me is humor. Irony has become such a big part of me, that the boundaries have become blurry. I no longer know if I’m being ironic or if I’m not. Maybe everything I say has a touch of irony, which means I can say almost everything. But then what significance do my words hold?

It’s not only what I say, it’s also the way I listen. Often I catch myself devising my next answer while the counterpart is still speaking. That way I’m certain to avoid the awkward silence, and at the same time I can appear more intelligent. However something gets lost in the process. I forget to listen and I don’t manage to really see the person in front of me. Instead the conversation happens on my terms and is often centered around me. Maybe I’m the modern day Narcissus or maybe I’m just afraid, or maybe they are one and the same.

IF YOU BOIL IT DOWN, it’s about taking the road of comfort in the companionship with other human beings. In the conversations we go through the even written topics such as education, the weather and geographical locations, and then a couple of jokes are thrown in just so it doesn’t get too boring. Nothing is embarrassing, no one has been hurt and everybody is fine. Fine… No more, no less. But I don’t want to be fine anymore. Cause when the goal is to avoid failure, I exclude the opportunity of success. —AP

Pushing through the dip: on process and perseverance, or something

I WANT TO MAKE ‘N’ for London and Copenhagen and Ha Noi this year, and I’m going to just have to keep on inviting people until we find the magic sets of 16 per city. Bearing with me are the guests who’ve joined so far. I’m so lucky and grateful that a few of us are on for new things, for challenges, for learning as we go, for mixing it up, for giant blind dates, and for, yes, the human connection that can happen when we unplug, show up, say hi.

DK’s 16N project gathers 16 strangers in 16 cities. Cities that have an ‘N’ in them. On topics that start with ‘N’. This began in April 2015 in Phnom Penh with ‘N’ Phnom Penh: NORMALITY, then in October that year continued with ‘N’ Bangkok: NOW. We are now inviting new guests for ‘N’ London: NOTEWORTHINESS and ‘N’ Copenhagen: NEARNESS. Here is an update from the series, ‘Diary of N’.

Published in S. P. A. C. E.

Get new insights every week in DK’s eZine S. P. A. C .E.

MAKING MY WAY OUT OF THE BOX. It’s true. I’ve been hiding, sort of. I’ve been avoiding the work of actually inviting more people, because it takes a lot of mental effort and huge emotional reserves. I mean, not like the kinds you would need to go through trauma or anything.

Just—when you are idealistic and hopeful and optimistic and believe like anything in the power of people to work together collaboratively, beautifully, together when they only have a chance to meet and get over their initial seeming differences then yeah, you get discouraged to see that most people, I’m talking about 99% or so, but I haven’t done all the math yet, will not agree with you.

Maybe they’re scared. Worried. Not into it. Don’t think it’s important to ‘go outside the comfort zone.’ Is that what I’m asking people to do? It seems that way. That is what I hear, mostly, in the responses to my invitations—

‘You’re asking me to go outside my comfort zone.’

And sometimes, that is a welcome thing. I guess now that I’ve been hiding for a while I’ve had a chance to regain my enthusiasm for ‘N’. Some cool people are joining and I have made a promise to them, that I will make this happen. I am the kind of person who does what I say I will—it’s a huge value I inherited from my father, who is stout, and stubborn, sometimes keeping us from getting along, but boy, do I love that about my dad: his consistency in doing what he says he will. Later in life, I learned that is the best way to build trust and quality relationships—for work and for personal stuff, too. Show up. Do what you say you will.

I want to make ‘N’ for London and Copenhagen and Ha Noi this year, and I’m going to just have to keep on inviting people until we find the magic sets of 16 per city. Bearing with me are the guests who’ve joined so far. I’m so lucky and grateful that a few of us are on for new things, for challenges, for learning as we go, for mixing it up, for giant blind dates, and for, yes, the human connection that can happen when we unplug, show up, say hi.

I’m sharing the journey in some updates on our blog, but mostly in email conversations with people who have opted in to our mailing list at Design Kompany. (Just go to the contact page and click ‘get updates by email’ if you are curious.) I’m guessing most people are not aware of the quality level I am looking to make for ‘N’.

I AM GUESSING THAT they would see this, initially, as some sort of quick buck thing. They don’t know that it’s actually running at a loss. That is to say, the sponsor that everyone asks me about is actually my own studio. And we’re not rolling in it, like. We’re just… we care about uncertainty, trying things, taking chances, showing up, making something beautiful if we can find people also interested in those things. (Lately, business execs, generation Z, and innovation R&D heads.) It’s not everyone, for sure. And that is the learning, to date. It’s actually very, very few people. But then again, it wouldn’t be worth it if, through this giant maze, I didn’t find my way towards them.

TO BE HONEST, I don’t know how I would respond if the tables were turned. That is, if someone from the internet whom I didn’t know asked me if I wanted to get a ticket to some event that had never been done, with people I didn’t know and couldn’t read up on beforehand, and on a date ‘to be determined’ together by the registered guests, Hm, what would I say to that? Maybe it’s because of the challenge of trying to be more open this year, to say ‘yes’ more, to try new things myself that I wanted to keep going with ‘N’ after Phnom Penh and Bangkok and really try to make it to 16. I’m not saying it has to happen all at once, perhaps a break after the UK-DK tour this year. The rest can wait. It can happen over sixteen years, if it must, because what counts is the moment of it happening, in those places, not the hurrying through… I care about ‘N’. I guess I care about it because it is introducing me to a very neat set of people, (you know who you are), and the future ‘N’ guests to be determined, and it is for them, for meeting them, the chance to know them for a bit, that I want to keep pressing forward, and push through this awkward ‘givey-uppy’ moment, the one that some people call ‘the dip.’

To be continued….

#whynot #sayyes

Published in S. P. A. C. E.

Get new insights every week in DK’s eZine S. P. A. C .E.

On quality and intrigue, a conversation with line and music

A Q&A WITH ERLING SKORPEN, a jazz artist, on what makes something intriguing. ‘When you listen to a concert, and you notice that the musicians are really into what they’re doing. When you can feel the energy in the room, and there exists a special atmosphere there. That’s the feeling that best describes intrigue for us.’

IN DENMARK I got to hear a pretty neat collection of intriguing bands at a weird and fascinating spot in Copenhagen called Mandags Klubben 5e. (More about them, another time—so fun.)

But for today I want to share an interview with someone intriguing I met, whose upcoming album is another thing I’d like to share about in a future post as it has a connection to one of our own pieces of work, The Book of Songs, in an abstract, tangential sort of way. Abstract and tangential, now that I think about it, is exactly what was awesome about being there on that day last autumn.

Let me expand.

Loved the sound of a young group called Gunslinging Bird Quartet, and started drawing in ball point pen and off the page—two new things for me, at the same time. I later asked trumpeter Erling Skorpen about the style of music he and his bandmates play, and why. Free jazz.

DK: Cool show, can you tell me about your band?

EK: Through years of playing and exploring different types of music, we all found a common interest in this type of jazz music. It’s merely a process—we might part ways with this aesthetic in one year or ten years. This is the music we all love, and which inspires us right now.

DK: What makes you happy?

EK: When we are playing music and it really works out. Drinking coffee. Pleasant surprises.

DK: How do you define intrigue?

EK: When you listen to a concert, and you notice that the musicians are really into what they’re doing. When you can feel the energy in the room, and there exists a special atmosphere there. That’s the feeling that best describes intrigue for us.

DK: How do you define quality?

EK: When music is honest and it connects with the audience. When you really hear that these people mean what they do.

MEMBERS OF the band are: Trym Daniel Rødvik – alto saxophone; Erling Skorpen – trumpet; Alex Riris – double bass; Amund Nordstrøm – drums & percussion.

Discover Gunslinging Bird online here: Soundcloud.com/gunslinging-bird.

Arts and culture, conversation and the story

IT’S NOT FOR EVERYONE, as Erling says and which is exactly why I enjoyed being there. Mainstream can get in the way of real connection, in my opinion. When you bumble into the unexpected and find intrigue, there is something *! that happens.

Magic?

Magic.

It’s delight these days, I’m convinced, that makes up the aesthetic of a new kind of ‘beautiful.’ And when I say ‘delight’ I don’t mean some user interface or an app. I mean, real life. What is the role of music in society? What is the role of poetry, of design? To make artfulness, I think. To meander, to open hearts.

But what’s your take? Comments welcome. —DK

This post originally appeared in the INTIMACY sequence of our eZine, S. P. A. C. E.