Eavesdropping in Kuala Lumpur

‘Not a suit. But suitlike.’

I’VE JUST ARRIVED. It’s twenty to one. A man in a nice cotton blue suit-jacket, not quite a suit, mind, but a suit-like thing, was hanging around momentarily. Ostensibly waiting for his coffee to be made, fresh for a take-away (a pet peeve of mine, personally, the take-away cup). But there comes a woman. Equally well put-together. Both wear light cotton pants, hers are white, his are a little less white, but still, nicely offset by the blue. I think I mentioned the blue already. Yes, yes I did. I think I was thinking about the color emerald green… yesterday… I was thinking about a certain otherworldly Northern Europe color palette, a tendency towards the muted colors. Yes, I like those, too. Had gone through a phase of that. Bluegreys. Seattle. One of my homes. Another one is turning out to be Kuala Lumpur. Keep coming back here to host things, it feels like. And I love the atmosphere, the color, the texture, the city vibe. And all this great teh halia, too. See stuff DK and friends have hosted here, at this page, DesignKompany.com/Malaysia. (HT TS: ‘Don’t ask me where I’m from, ask me where I’m local.’)

 

Beyond the edge of the world

Seattle

SEATTLE. I remember. A lot of rain fell, and then, the cloudburst came, in the form of ‘The Dive,’ (Kismuth Books // 2012), which I realize I must have talked about a lot, in many places, but in short fragments, a lot of things come in short fragments, don’t they? And then you go into the quiet zones, and stay there. Perhaps too long. Because when you forget how to speak up, speak forward, speak without muting your voice too terribly much for fear you’ll be chastised, chided, critiqued, questioned, challenged, humiliated, or otherwise made to feel bad about the fact that you are you, and you alone, unique as DNA, then being purposeful and insistent in holding out and sharing with others the very you that is you becomes, well… hard. Because you’re worried. Anxious. Uncomfortable. It’s uncomfortable to be the very you that is you. Of course it is. But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t—it’s okay and it’s easy to say and words are cheap; sometimes they are, of course at other times they are very exquisite, not cheap at all, not cheap… but then there comes his coffee.

One now. Almost the time for the office workers to come in. I’m taking up two tables. I better collate this stuff. Maybe get going. Too many people; it’s uncomfortable. I might say I’ve become more Finnish, in this regard, but I think it was always there, and underscored when I had lived in Seattle. A tendency towards being more alone, than with others. Wanting a lot of room around me. Not liking the oppressiveness of being in the airspace of too many people in too small a room. It’s happening. I’m starting to feel it. Suffocation. But, wait. It’s not that bad. It’s still Malaysia. It’s still developed. There isn’t going to be a lot of noise and there won’t be dust or dirt. The people will shuffle in, and as quickly, shuffle out. They will. They are in motion. They are on the clock. Time. Time is a thing, for some people. I get it. They have to go punch in, punch out. Me? What am I? Slowing down. Slowing in the moment. But maybe this is the wrong environment for that. I’m wishing I could be in Melakka, too. I was there. I liked it there. The weekdays are a better time to be there. But I’m here, preparing for Phnom Penh. Sounds odd, writing that. Haven’t I tried, many times, to ‘move on’ from there? But… the question is a real one, and smacks and smarts: to where? Where is the next home? It’s a big, open field, and you can go in any direction. Instead of getting lost in the amorphous not-knowing, though, I’m learning to embrace it. The field is one of my homes, too. Like the road. And North Carolina. And Seattle. And, and…. Phnom Penh. Four years is a long time to be parked there. Four years, writing nothing much, really, except for, oh yeah, Breakfast in Cambodia. A two-year anniversary of that little book just passed. I’m happy about this. I can try again, for something different. Maybe finally finish ‘Socheata’s Comb.’

Back to KL. Back to right now.

 

Kuala Lumpur // DK 2018

Real life is the stage

I AM READYING to make a move. Or maybe not. If they leave, I’ll stay. If they stay, I’ll leave. She is asking him something. He is saying something else. They are acquainted. They talk about weathers. Not the hurricanes, like I am doing in emails with people in North Carolina, because of the flooding in the east of that state, but about… well, the sun and Melbourne and smalltalk. Smalltalk is nice, has its place, at times. No? Of course it does. Work colleagues, maybe. I try to assess. They are cordial. Do they work in some kind of fashion retail outlet? Perhaps they are middle managers. Perhaps, perhaps.

My mind makes up stories. Connects dots that aren’t quite there, but might appear to be in places if, after some amount of time observing the stage of real life, always the most exciting, could become rather realistic. Reality. The strangest sort of fiction. Or is fiction real? I don’t know. What am I talking about? These are the kinds of things that gather momentum here, when it is not yet lunch rush and the caffeine is starting to find its jolt. The jolt that makes the story. The sentences place themselves, one in front of the other. I go back to writing, perhaps. The man leaves, in a hurry; it is abrupt. She is not worried. She is not even moved. She barely acknowledged him, anyway, I noticed, at the start. No one was trying too hard to start talking. That’s okay. That’s fine. You don’t have to talk all the time. Gosh, if I didn’t learn that in Finland.  She was on her phone. So was he. Both of them distracting themselves or pretending to. Looking at things. Texts and so on. He had tried to make eye contact. That is a thing unknown to some of the younger ones. They may dress impeccably, but they don’t notice the noticing. And that’s where the breakdown begins, isn’t it? Of communicating from ap lace that’s honest, real, raw, and unfiltered. Facades get in the way of relating. And I guess that’s why, for the first time in a long time, I’m okay writing again, in first person. More on the way. More to share. More, in the form of short books, long books, poems, novellas, plays. And, best of all, co-creations.

Listening in to other people’s conversations… stories of: moneymaking plans, insurance, school and work, weather banter, international transit, general exchanges on the exchange of services and goods, rubber, fear of other, mistrust, putting up with things, and, of course, celebrating a new government, with an optimism. The kind that says, ‘Some glimmer of things to come shan’t be smothered, now.’ That’s the feeling, this go around, here in Kuala Lumpur.

Back in November, for this.

Join S P A C E and be part of the international, asynchronous forums and online salons from October. (Which is when we begin again with a select set of candidates from around the world newly discovered, for the salon, ‘Philosophy of the Moment.’) Scholarships available. Application required. Learn more here

Popup art installation in KL: ‘Art of the Z I N E’

A party. A popup art installation. A conversation, or a set of them, in something we like to call S P A C E. This time, DK and friends are gathering for an informal party to share with new guests the feeling of going into the unknown, looking around, finding a story, and sharing it out. We’re celebrating zines and zine culture.

We’re connecting with people we know already, and inviting new acquaintances to join us. DK makes Connecting and interconnecting you. A remarkable, once-off event lies ahead–the question is, will you experience it? Take the S P A C E challenge. Meet us in real life for a special event like no other on the 2F of FEEKA. Explore, experience, connect, and discover. That’s what we’re doing, at 15 September’s party ‘Art of the Z I N E.’

Zines. Conversation. Real life.

***

Art of the Z I N E

 A popup art installation

#atelierspace

“ZINES” adalah koleksi artikel pendek yang disebarkan dengan quantiti yang kecil. Dalam era dimana berita internet yang boleh mengelirukan dan tidak benar #fakenews, “Zines” boleh membawa gambar dan kata-kata yang benar dan tidak ditapis. “Zines” juga membolehkan kita menyampaikan pendapat dan cerita antara satu sama lain.
***
Zines. Conversation. Real life. In an age where the internet can confuse and lie to us, ‘zines’ (xeroxed short publications we make ourselves and give our friends) give us a tangible grip on the *here and now*, and remind us that at the end of the day, *we* get to create and write our own stories: the stories of our lives, the stories that remind us who we are. Eat. Drink, and relax with us and others interested in zines, zine culture, DIY publishing, meeting new people, and trying new things. Hosted by artist Dipika Kohli, Design Kompany.

FEEKA Coffee Roasters
19 Jalan Mesui
Wilayah Persekutuan
Kuala Lumpur 50200

Saturday, 15 September

6-9pm
Ages 16+
RM 10

R E G I S T E R

***

Dipika Kohli

About Dipika Kohli

This event will be hosted by our founder and creative director, Dipika Kohli. She is an author and artist. She was an editor for newspapers in southwest Ireland and in Seattle, WA USA. Dipika was a speaker at TEDx (watch) and a guest author interviewed live on NPR (listen). Lately, she’s hosting Atelier S P A C E to bring people who love to write, talk together, and learn new things into conversation salons and workshops in which they can co-create short, 8-page zines. Discover the collection, S P A C E, at http://designkompany.com/space-the-zine.

 

DK 2018 | Finland

 

** Special thanks to KJoe Wong for his help on the Malay descriptions.
Also to Alex Anthony at Feeka for co-hosting Atelier S P A C E | KL events with us.

Point and Line to Plane

FOR THE FIRST TIME, probably in a long time, instead of a long ramble, I’m going to tell you a story. About the time I met L.

The reason I want to bring this up is manyfold, but begins and ends, I think, in Kuala Lumpur. Which is where I have just returned to, and where I keep popping in, it seems, for two- or three-month blocks. Looking for the story, is what I had said, before. But it’s more than that. It’s looking for the life.

‘It’s not that I want to make a living from these zines,’ I had said, at that tea place with many shelves of carefully arranged books on feminism, cooking, and LGBTQ features. ‘I want to make these zines live. And you need to have great stories for that to work. To really work, I mean.’ What was I talking about? The dream quality was there, that day. You know that one, right? When time slows, almost stops. You notice this kind of thing, especially when you are alone, on the road, waiting for tea, waiting for the rain. Looking at the bookshelves, but only kind of. Most jacket spines were writ in Chinese.

The Book of Ennui // DK and friends, Phnom Penh, 2016

So in the end, I was reading nothing at all, for once, instead writing in my head, writing blank columns into the aetherspace of just-zoning-out. Same like the moment I chose to amble up those stairs (unmarked, curious, vaguely intriguing), and into the cafe-cum-bookshop’s front atelier. But I peeked over the edges of uncomfortable-looking but perfectly-colored red sofas. Of course I did. Was there a backroom?

There was.

It had a large window that looked out onto a balcony. Floor to ceiling windows. I love those. I followed the sightline.

That’s when I saw her. L.

Her things arranged meticulously around her, but I could tell, for a long time, she wasn’t paying attention to those bits. Paper, a laptop, some cords, some phone stuff, maybe a few more electronic things that I couldn’t identify, really, because I’m out of touch with that kind of thing. I stick to paper, still, believe it or not. Pencil, paper, scissors, glue.

But.

L.

She was elsewhere. In the just-beyond, in a way, at least, that’s how it seemed, to me, on that afternoon with a soft rain, not the monsoon, but the lighter kind, about to fall.

‘Ever since I met you,’ she would say in not that much time, ‘which was ten minutes ago, I feel like I could really… connect.’

Et voilà.

Enter the heart of S P A C E.

 

Kandinsky’s window

AS IT IS WITH BEGINNINGS, it is, too, with the middles, I think, of the space that is shaped when we go around the bend, see what might be there, and begin to go quiet into the space of just-being. Maybe a couple of minutes passed, maybe a few hours. I can’t be sure. I’ll never be sure. She was there, and I was there, and we talked at length about many, many things related to, hey, feminism, and showing up, and real life, and circumstances, and how things change, and where we are, and, of course, uncertainty. My beat. I write about this, I talk about this, I calculate nothing really, anymore. The second law of thermodynamics was how it all began, in a summer classroom half a world away, sitting there, Mann Hall, N. C. State. Was that where? It was. A summer of learning how things flow, where turbulence arises, how entropy works (or how we think it does), what professors can do with a constricted schedule that blocks classes into longer hour-periods, instead of longer weekly semesters. Summer and then. But… I’m getting nostalgic for another time; that won’t do. That is a distraction. That takes away from here, hijacking the moment. This moment. Now. (Not to get distracted further, but um. The future. Ask me sometime about an upcoming salon, ‘Kandinsky’s Window,’ which is about the viewfinder of the street window, and the life that’s just beyond… ask me sometime about the book Point and Line to Plane, too. I’m always more than happy to talk non-Euclidean or multidimensional bric-a-brac in the forum-space, ‘Strange Geometries.’) But first, let me quickly recount the short, real conversation that happened when I met someone who reminded me in every way of the people I love discovering, on the road, in the moment, away from everything, because they have that expressiveness in the eye that says, ‘Well, hello, who are you?’ But she said—

‘Hi.’

And I said–

‘Hi.’

(Things start so simply, don’t they?)

Geometries and strangenesses, the ever-changing shape of space. Is L. in Kuala Lumpur? Will we meet again? I don’t know. I can’t know. Nothing is for sure. (Remember, uncertainty is my beat.)

‘There is so much bad art in the world.’

‘Yes. Yes there is.’

Conic sections

What’s good? What’s quality? Where can we go to find it? We can seek theories in books, or write essays that philosophize about these big questions. But we can also go into the quiet space. The in-betweens—where, I’m finding, at least for me, things like ‘good’ and ‘quality’ and ‘beauty’ and, yes, I’ll say it, ‘magic,’ exist and co-exist. Here in the edge-finding rooms where we go, now, me and the people I write and talk deeply with, at length, in conversation salons or put-together-in-this-now gatherings that may be impromptu, spontaneous, planned or unplanned, well, here is where we are headed. The magic moment. I know, I know. You want me to spell things out. ‘Make it clear, DK, what this is and why it will make my life better.’ Well, truth is, I can’t do that. I can only show you what I feel when I feel the magic moment happening to begin. It’s really… um. It’s… well. It’s personal. I can’t share that kind of thing in the public blog space, which is why I resort to protected-page forums.

In which there is… well. Sharing. Conversation. Connection and interconnection. One designful moment at a time. I can’t really begin to describe all the magical things that happened when people connected across S P A C E here and there, like in The Mirror in the early part of the year, and currently, we’re going to be finishing something soon called Slow Moment. I’m humbled and grateful for the chance connections that have led to new thinking, new input, new… feelings. It’s where the world of imagination and heart can take us: it’s where we can begin to slow down, let go of our inhibitions, disclose things that might feel very hard to open up about, and, in this way, build new shoots and germinate anew.

On the bus on the way from Helsinki city center to Vantaa for the airport, I met someone from my part of the world. With my very accent. My style of speech. My idioms, my cultural references, my diction, my slang. But: we did not relate. I couldn’t. There wasn’t the same quality of space there that there had been elsewhere. Just because we share the same passport doesn’t make us familiar. What makes us familiar is the intricate and curious longing to go somewhere else, to seek, to quest, to discover. And not make it into a big deal: to just go.

 

The magic of now

‘The Book of Time’ // DK and friends, Phnom Penh, 2016

LATELY, I’ve revised my thoughts about what ‘art’ is. Dislcaimer: I spent like ten minutes in art school, this was in Brooklyn, this was a zillion years ago, and I’ve been pushing around in the world, ever since, I think, trying to feel it instead of think about it. In moments, it arrives: that feeling. The one that says, ‘This. This is art.’ I’ll tell you more about that in a second. But first, what is not. (To me. Everything is relative, after all.)

It’s not a book or a novel or a painting or a YouTube video. It’s not a song or a worked-over collage that no one will ever see. It’s not the words in the diaries that someone who wrote them wonders if their great-grandchildren will read and somehow recall them, or at least, know a hint of a whisper of their having-been. No. Art is closer to us than any of those things. Art happens, to me, in the quiet stillness, in the noticing of: being here now.

Which happens at a specific kind of moment.

The moment of something that has turned, somehow, into a kind of novelty. A real life meeting, eye to eye.

These days, to me, the making of art isn’t the accruing of ‘stuff.’

These days, to me, art is simpler.

Art is showing up.

The good stuff follows, thence.

 

This is a part of the series, ‘100 conversations,’ inspired by real encounters with real people, and is supported by members of S P A C E.

This post is for L.

7 Sept | Popup zinemaking atelier in KL

ZINES. Conversation. Real life. In an age where the internet can confuse and lie to us, ‘zines’ (xeroxed short publications we make ourselves and give our friends) give us a tangible grip on the *here and now*, and remind us that at the end of the day, *we* get to create and write our own stories: the stories of our lives, the stories that remind us who we are. Make. Eat. Drink, and relax with us to put together your own 8-page zine. We’ll show you how.

*** UPDATE: Be sure to grab a special discount when you apply the code ‘DKlovesyou’ at the event page (where it says ‘Enter promotional code.’) ***

 

Zines at Oulu Arts Night in Finland, 2018 // Photo by DK

Continue reading “7 Sept | Popup zinemaking atelier in KL”

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.

Salon: Origin

ORIGIN: ‘What is fromness?’ is inspired by ‘Ask me where I’m local’ by Taiye Selasi: ‘When someone asks you where you’re from … do you sometimes not know how to answer?’ Selasi speaks for “multi-local” people. In other words, people who feel at home in the town where they grew up, the city they live now and maybe another place or two. How can I come from a country?, she asks. How can a human being come from a concept?’

Origin: What is ‘fromness?’ Join Design Kompany in an informal setting for a conversation salon, ‘Origin.’

We’ll be talking about questions that help us all reflect on self-identity, whereness, and the notion of ‘where I am from.’ The program is light, and a slight redesign of our 2014 Origin conversation salon in Phnom Penh, in which 16 people gathered for an unusual experience of talking with complete strangers about close-to-the-heart questions. Since then the event has also been seen in Bangkok and Hanoi.

Come meet people from a wide mix of backgrounds. People whose paths you might not have crossed. Who are interested in taking a good, honest look at questions like: Who am I? Where am I ‘from?’ Who is my family? Where is my home? Questions that, we learned in 2014, truly open the heart. And help us learn more about one another, as well as ourselves.

  • ‘I never imagined I’d meet so many different people.’
  • ‘I wish we’d had more time! Thank you.’
  • ‘Weird and interesting!’
  • ‘Refreshingly honest.’

This event is for members of S P A C E and their guests. Learn more about how to become a member of S P A C E here.

Arts & Letters Society Kuala Lumpur

DK and friends together co-host a very special, once-off conversation salon at the National Gallery in Kuala Lumpur. This is a conversation salon about design, as well as a chance to pop in together to see the exhibition ‘Contemporary Design.’ Meet us at the 2F of the National Gallery at PCLO Cafe. (When you go up the escalators, turn to the left. You’ll see PCLO and a sign for ‘Arts & Letters Society’ on the A-board, there.)

‘SHOULD I GO?’ I want to answer the question, ‘Why should I go?’ It’s a good one, and for a long time I’ve just avoided answering it because to me it’s a natural thing to want to go to things where I have no idea what might happen, or whom I’ll meet, as long as it’s not ‘Saturday night-y’ stuff. I don’t much go for the drinking and bar thing, and I don’t care to ‘connect’ through WhatsApp texting strings. I prefer real life, in which someone is designing a kind of conversation space that has a set intention and by design makes it small in scale. And especially at a venue that I’m curious about anyway. So I’m looking for people who are looking for me.

Why take part? Maybe you’re ready to talk with new people about new things, in real life, without having to do the hard work of setting up the social space. Let DK do that work to design and host you in S P A C E, which is where we are talking with people internationally both online and in real life conversation salons and ateliers together, in order to build a frame for dialogue, exchange, new input, and fresh ideas. Mix it up, catch the art show, and take a break from everything that is your ‘usual routine’ to pop into S P A C E for a moment with us. DK will be hosting this pop-up Arts & Letters Society in KL for the second time, after having returned from a summer series of real life pop-up art installations and conversation salons in Finland. Lots to show, share, and dialogue about in real life on 1 Sept. Who should come? Those who are ready for something different, a change of the normal kind of meet up or party, and are wondering what happens when people who don’t know one another come together in a DK-designed ‘moment’ that we call ‘magic.’ The magic moment happens in S P A C E; we can talk about how, and all of that, later, but for now, this page is here to make the invitation. Will we see you? Why not show up, say yes. –AS

Ages 16+. Very limited seats. Max 12. RM 12 per person. Be sure to register to confirm your spot.

Book your spot by registering here.

 

 

Arts & Letters Society | Kuala Lumpur

WRITERS, designers, artists, business execs, marketing coordinators, communications consultants, and digital agency directors are all invited to talk in this new and different conversation salon. Arts & Letters Society is an open circle that will meet just two times. You are invited to connect with Design Kompany at two A&LS meetups in Kuala Lumpur (25th of April, and the 25th of May).

Join in the conversations about art, design, the work of making, and the way we each engage with the creative process. Last seen in KL to host Atelier S P A C E, DK welcome a chance to invite the new, the different, and the serendipitous to see what magic we might make, together. Free for anyone who connects with DK through our new [S P A C E] 2018 announcements list. Find the link to that at our homepage, for Design Kompany. Hosted by A. Spaice. (Special VIP guests to be announced, will share the agenda and meetpoint by email.) Men, women, and other, are all welcome to this inclusive, yet small in scale, conversation salon. Arts & Letters Society looks forward to meeting you.

Add your name to [S P A C E] 2018 announcements list for more.

25 May | KL ‘Kaunter Tiket’ zine launch party

*Happening.* Free with registration.

Register at: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/arts-letters-society-tickets-44788701211

Open invite, +1s welcome. *Secret location* to be shared with registered guests only.

Make a zine with us in Kuala Lumpur

A LOT of learning on our last trip to Malaysia! Three months of getting to know the place and people, a little, in Penang, Cameron, Melaka, KL, and Ipoh, pretty neat. We discovered a lot of smart, creative women and young people, especially, who are ready, we think, for a challenge, artistically, philosophically, and intellectually. So we are back to host some new events in S P A C E to invite a few of these good people to mix it up a bit, and connect with others also interested in the same.

In KL at the end of May, DK will gather new and different others in remarkable S P A C E. Designing for connexion. That’s our goal. Perhaps this sounds like a big project, but to us, it just means hanging out and talking and letting things flow. At ateliers like the one ahead, we can also cocreate… let’s make something together, in this instance, an 8-page zine. Learn more about Atelier S P A C E || Kuala Lumpur.

Advance bookings, very limited seats.

Welcome to Connection, welcome to S P A C E

REPORTING TODAY from a secret location in Malaysia. For a bit of space, to reflect and connect, with some whose paths I’ve crossed very recently, and with those who are still engaged with DK through our mailings in [S P A C E 2018].

Allora.

‘New starts’, part LXII

I love starting over. I really do. It’s like when you open a new sketchbook and you’re just like, ‘Wow. Here we go. Where, though? Let’s go find out.’ I told some people in recent days I was in art school for like 10 minutes. It was way too early to be there, or really, it was way too wrong, for me, even then, even then I had a gut feeling about it… that style of making is just like production-oriented other schooling (commercial arts), and while I’ve no problem whatsoever with artmaking for a client (heck, that’s how I’ve lived these last 10+ years), I don’t think we should mess around with the ‘art of art.’ I will love to talk more about that in S P A C E when I get to interview someone whom I am sure you will adore meeting. I certainly have.

Anyway! This kind of quick-and-dirty art-for-the-sake-of-fame is just… not what I feel like real art is about. Real art is about experience, to me. About life, and about connexion-making. Not just you know, the usual kinds (love, work, blah blah), but about unusual and remarkable connexion. People whose paths might not have crossed, intersecting in fascinating new ways.

You know what most people say when I talk about this? ‘But, why, DK? Whatever is the point?’ These are the people who will never believe that I haven’t held a day job since 2005. The beginning half of the conversation with this set of people tires me. I stopped. I only talk now in S P A C E and with people I think would get into S P A C E aesthetically. It’s really weird. But anyway. Really, I should answer.

Why? Because quality. A pursuit of beauty that means we are noticing each other, for real. Not just superficially, gosh. Really? Come on, like how many of your ‘friends’ are going to show up for you when you ask them to come around to your show, or meet for a beer because someone just died, or something? Come on, be real about it. Ask yourself. Is all that stuff where you want to be spending your time? Not me.

Someone asked me for my facebook yesterday. I said I don’t have one. I don’t think he believed me. Then he asked for my number. I don’t have one of those, either.

‘How do people get in touch with you, then, DK?’

Mailing list!

Just being honest about it… about how I really… don’t collect people. I share, and interconnect, I hope, when it’s working that’s what happens, when we are all showing up for that kind of thing. It’s not arbitrary and it’s certainly not for everyone. The reason you have to get tickets for stuff we are hosting is because I want to filter out the people who are just bored and looking for something to fill their time. I want people to show up who want to show up for this kind of jam. New. New and different. New and different others, seeking meaning in a distracted world. Shall I add, an indifferent world? Because certainly this work we are up to at S P A C E and DK in general is morphing away, and very quickly, from simply being bored with boring (which is how it started, as a design studio), and catapulting headlong towards being intentional about noticing people who are not like you. Does this make it political? Possibly. I don’t know how this happens; wherever I go, I get involved somehow in things related to ideologies that move towards human connexion that builds, together, something interesting. Self-governance or maybe just art.

I’m not sure. Is it the same? Does one necessarily fertilize the other? What precludes these things? Is where we are going as a global society something to talk about, more? I wonder. (I’m just riffing here. Let’s talk, if you want to: there’s a form at this page.)

Day in KL

(Side story: ‘I studied the philosophy of art. A guy named __.’ ‘Oh yeah! What did he say??’ ‘It was a long time ago. I can’t remember.’ ‘…’ ‘…’ ‘…’ ‘Are you bored?’ ‘YES.’ <—- This is why I don’t go out, often, to the ‘normal’ places where it’s socially encouraged to mingle. And the exact reason I made S P A C E.)

I’m bored, of course, (of course? Is it a given, really?) with the status quo. Always have been. Always will be. The status quo is where stuff gets sucked into the pockets of mediocirty, the whole ‘We’ve already run that kind of a story,’ thinking or, ‘This is just how it has always been, DK, can we just go back to the way we’ve always done it?’ Me: Please, no. Please, let’s try something new. Can we? No? You don’t want to? Well, okay. Goodbye. How many times have I been stuck? 61. I counted. And now, let’s move forwards. Let’s go to Malaysia. Let’s go see who’s around, and what we can experience, together. Ready, set.

And… hello.

‘Kaunter Tiket’ the zine launches on 1 May. Hosting a few events with friends to kick things off. // Photos by DK and, immediately above, photo by: Araujojoan96

 

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Arts & Letters Society | Kuala Lumpur

WRITERS, designers, artists, business execs, marketing coordinators, communications consultants, and digital agency directors are all invited to talk in this new and different conversation salon. Arts & Letters Society is an open circle that will meet just two times. You are invited to connect with Design Kompany at two A&LS meetups in Kuala Lumpur (25th of April, and the 25th of May).

Join in the conversations about art, design, the work of making, and the way we each engage with the creative process. Last seen in KL to host Atelier S P A C E, DK welcome a chance to invite the new, the different, and the serendipitous to see what magic we might make, together. Free for anyone who connects with DK through our new [S P A C E] 2018 announcements list. Find the link to that at our homepage, for Design Kompany. Hosted by A. Spaice. (Special VIP guests to be announced, will share the agenda and meetpoint by email.) Men, women, and other, are all welcome to this inclusive, yet small in scale, conversation salon. Arts & Letters Society looks forward to meeting you.

Add your name to [S P A C E] 2018 announcements list for more.

‘Kaunter Tiket’

S P A C E || Kuala Lumpur

AVAILABLE in both print and soft copy, this issue of S P A C E is a 2-volume, limited edition zine. It was released on June 1, 2018.

It’s set in Kuala Lumpur in December, 2017, when DK and others were gathered there for Atelier S P A C E to look for the hyperlocal story and make a zine. It relates the honest dialogue between two women (‘both middle-aged, single, and tough with men’). In the story, two main characters, both brassy in very different ways, open their innermost vaults of secrets to one another, swapping candid stories about ‘the way it is,’ in their respective opinions, when it comes to love, admiration, power, and sexuality.

Sweet dreams are made of this/ Travel the world and the seven seas/ Everybody’s looking for something… —Eurythmics

These are the print version. Get one by postal mail, just click that option at the order page.

THE HEROINE of this piece is a woman whose real-life story left DK so speechless, that we completely overhauled the story originally published last winter. Since then, the team collaborating on the zine continued shaping the story, to refine the so that it is much more a portrait of one particular strain of a life, a style, and a philosophy.

In this work of creative nonfiction, ‘Kaunter Tiket,’ corporate exec Ritu Raj meets a remarkable and unexpected chance encounter, and sees in an insightful instant it will reframe her perceptions of material, and personal, success.

Worlds apart, but joined in their experience of a series of life experiences with common denominators, two women enter an all-night dialogue that will touch on all angles they can manage to delve into on the subject of love relationships.

Look forward in this short, packed zine to discovering an unexpected intrigue, witnessing closehand a superior poise, cutting up mainstream media’s images of female beauty, and being allowed to witness a bright, passionate resilience.

Set in the smoky billow of neither heartbreak nor apathy, but reality, the story starts somewhere behind Jalan Sultan Ismail.

New recountings of age-old narratives invite you to rethink painted facades and false illusion, to re-examine your own storages of untested so-called certainties that may just disintegrate when challenged arduously, (as was the real life experience that inspired this story), by someone who simply knows a thing, by living it, a thing very basic and primal, and yet, a thing that many of us will never be able to access. DK insist that true connexion starts with showing up, that means paying attention, noticing and being there when someone begins to let the floodgates open. In this case, an honest beginning of just such a kind of personal connexion led DK and the team at Atelier S P A C E to revise theories about ‘status’ and ‘motive,’ and to note with alacrity thanks to one woman’s wisdom, how nothing and no one are as they may at first seem.

How to order a copy of ‘Kaunter Tiket’…

Order here.

 

S P A C E || Zines

NEW. Zines. Creative nonfiction pieces. Are now for sale here at Design Kompany’s site, exclusively. These were created at Atelier S P A C E, a popup, roving, zinemaking atelier that seeks to interconnect people in hyperlocal narratives. We write them, on the spot. With the people who take part. It’s pretty fun, light, conversational, and really all about seeing what emerges when we frame a space to ‘get lost, together.’ Improvisation, poetry, philosophy, breaking out of boxes: and yet, doing all this, within the confines of a specific time-bound and space-bound frame: that’s it. That’s the whole thing. That’s Atelier S P A C E. See the journey so far in pics at our instagram, or follow the posts here.

Currently available for immediate download and pre-order:

The collection, shown below, is set to be completed by December, 2018. The entire work will interweave narratives of people, place, and story. The first story is set in 1996, in Kyoto. The last store is set in 2018, in Phnom Penh.Each zine will be released to members of our S P A C E community. Join here.

 

S P A C E || Zines

Research. Reporting. Creative nonfiction. Digital publishing. Limited edition photocopied zine-making. Popup atelier hosting. Welcome to the S P A C E collection made at Atelier S P A C E. Started in Sept. 2017, and is moving to new places to discover people there, get us all talking together, and publish the stories of here, and now, in new editions of the zine, S P A C E.

‘The world is a beautiful book, but of little use to those who cannot read it.’
–Anon

Atelier S P A C E || Kuala Lumpur

JOIN DK in KL this May for a short, popup zinemaking atelier. Atelier S P A C E is an international series in which people meet to work on an 8-page zine, together. Be a part of the international conversations unfolding in real life, online forums, and at these workshops. Make a space and join Atelier S P A C E for just RM 60 per session. Four sessions. Discover more here.

Arts & Letters Society | Kuala Lumpur

Two dates. April 25, and May 25. Follow the instructions on this page to find out what is going on, the agenda, and meet point for this twice-off event in Kuala Lumpur. (Friends of Design Kompany will have a pretty good idea of it if you’ve heard us talk about ‘N’.)

Atelier S P A C E || Kuala Lumpur

MAKE A ZINE with just a handful of others, in this international atelier series, Atelier S P A C E.

ATELIERS. These pop up from real life when we converse offline with new and different others. It brings storyfinding back to person to person contact, while ‘journalism’ becomes increasingly less human-centered. Who will we tell our real selves to? Each other, in real life, offline, away from package-making for others and towards more listening for common threads and similar experiences. In so doing, we feel more connected, DK have found, and inspired to improve, too.

Starting in Battambang in Cambodia in Sept. 2017, we are moving in Asia to discover people who are curious, creative, and ready for something new. Our cocreated Battambang issue was on the topic, Ennui. In Singapore (10-12 Nov) our zine was on the theme The Third Place. In Penang (6-11 Dec) we took a different focus, Growth. Each theme is based on what conversations emerged when we meet new people in real life in those places, and simply take time to talk. Then we work to make a zine that is cohesive, and is hyperlocal to the place and the contemporary narratives. What will happen, whom we’ll meet, who will join, and what zine we will then together produce is an open question. Let’s consider the possibilities. Let’s make a space.

Meet us there?

Order tickets for Atelier S P A C E || Kuala Lumpur here: https://atelier-space-kualalumpur.eventbrite.com

Questions? Contact us through the form at this page.

S P A C E || The travel bug

I THINK we have it. A theme. For our next zinemaking popup, Atelier S P A C E || Kuala Kumpur. Travel. Transit hub that it is, it makes a great setting for the kinds of meandering that wanderers love. Let’s talk travel, new places, showing up, taking chances, favorite music, best of’s, and more. And let’s do it in real life, with our phones turned off, in a box. Yes? Hit us up for details. Or check out this page.

Hello Kuala Lumpur

IT IS INCREDIBLE. The road. How it teaches. You just have no idea where you are going to go, and then, there you are. Writing today from a small unexpectedly well-connected wifi place. Fast. Lucky. Reflecting lately on the journeys, typing and sharing the gems in S P A C E. Enjoying offline random conversations. So many! A few intriguing people; no, no, that’s understating. More than a few. A dozen? Atelier S P A C E has brought me to them. A Programme that is by design about bumping into chance encounters, during specific windows of time in selected spaces. Going and finding these ‘boxes’, be they cafes or lounges, bars or museums, whatever and however it works it works, but the important part is that there has to be a good feeling about them. Chemistry is big. What is the quality of the space that we are shaping? Something like ‘the third place,’ is the closest I’ve found. But with a spark: a little twinge of !*, an ‘I didn’t see that coming!’ And ‘Huh!’ I like to think of it as the magic moment. You have to design for it. And you can. It’s pretty neat.

There was more here, before, but I deleted it. I guess it just felt pretty personal, and it was hard to get so full-on intimate outside of the boxes that we make, in our ateliers, and in our online ‘rooms’ for conversation. Something has changed, I guess, for me. More interested in small scales, human scale dialogues. With new, and different others. So many of the people I *just met*, for example, are exceedingly interesting—for a time. in the shape of space that moves and shifts, these encounters linger and press a kind of memory. But the new news is this. Memories of memories change, in fact, too. What do we think about, how we feel, where we were, what’s next… All questions to think about, if you are the thinking-about-questions sort. If you are, let me know. We have more things ahead, in S P A C E.

Blink, and 2017 ended.