S P A C E || Loaded

‘DON’T EXPECT ANYTHING. When you come back! It’s not like people are going to come flocking around just to see you!’

‘I know.’

‘It’s not like they care!’

‘I, um. I know.’

‘I don’t want you to get it in your head that someone or something is going to come into shape according to your head’s picture of it just because your head has a picture of it! I want you to know that there are high likelihoods that nothing at all will happen, at all! I want you to understand that!’

‘I understand. I have no expectations. Promise.’

‘That includes talking so much! To me! I’m so needing not to talk so much. We go around Intellectualizing everything and it is such a drag, and it gets in the way of actually communicating with actual people who aren’t US. Do you understand? I want you to understand this. I so, so do.’

‘Kay. I do.’

‘You promise?’

‘Yeah. I already promised once.’

”Well, what are you going to do do then? When you come back?’

‘To Phnom Penh?’

‘Yeah, yeah. Unless you want to go somewhere else?’

‘No, no. Where am I going to go? I have nothing planned until June.’

‘So?’

‘So yeah. They give you a month visa, right? Then I’ll just not extend it. I’ll find somewhere else to move to and I’ll go to that other place, after.’

‘After what? You said you didn’t have expectations!’

‘I don’t! But I do…’

‘What?’

‘Think it’s nice to have a bit of…’

‘What?’

‘Comfort. Familiarity. A sense of place. Home.’

‘Cambodia? Is home?’

‘Bangkok sure ain’t! And yeah. Phnom Penh. Is… One of them. Homes.’

‘Hm.’

‘So it’s not that I want to go and make a bunch of projects or try to round people up for esoteric conversations. That was hard to do even in Seattle! In Copenhagen! In London! I mean, really! If people in the big city whose native languages or closely studied second languages are like mine and people in other places I’ve lived whose culture is like mine, whatever that is, well, if THEY don’t get it, f**ing hell, damn if I can show up in PP and try to conjure something out of thin air!’

‘…’

”Then again…’

‘What?’

‘That’s the magic of it. For me. For us. We have some kind of special privilege because we’re not local. And that means lots of scope to just write and draw and make zines or whatever. Four years of this. That’s a long time. Cambodia! Yeah. You can just go there and be responsible and not exploits or pushy about your religious views and don’t upset anyone or ruffle stuff or become a pain or generally be like a lot of people are you know what I mean… Just. No cultural imperialism stuff you know… and you can stay a while and out of the dusty streets and ornamented rigidity, out of the beautiful haute fashion hatwear that no one realizes is so damn intriguing, and the small kindnesses that show up when you find the people who are going to be your real friends, or just one friend, I guess, for each of us, right?, well that’s pretty good! A lifetime of living and I’ve only got two friends, really. One of them I haven’t seen since 2013! F. Is this the world we are in now? This lonely, lonely world?’

‘Yeah.’

‘Well, damnit.’

‘What.’

‘I wanna be free. I wanna have a good time. I wanna do what I wanna do…’

‘You sound like that Primal Scream Song. Loaded. I wanna get loaded…

‘Yeah! It IS like that long! Oooh! I’m gonna have a party.’

‘So you ARE going to do something. Just…’

‘”Don’t expect anything!”‘

3/100. This is part of a series of 100 conversations. Written in S P A C E. Ooh, yeah.  HT RKP I still have your tape.✨

SELF || Bangkok

DISCOVER YOUR SELF. Sounds crazy, right? You know yourself. Well, do you? In this era where layer after layer of facades keep us from truly relating to others, maybe it gets confusing. It’s a good time to take stock and reflect on who it is you are, under all of that. No cameras, no phones to distract, no documenting… That’s how we will host this very small-scale, intimate salon at the cozy Chong Nonsi venue pictured here. No need to bring anything. All materials will be provided. Hosted by Dipika Kohli. Which means you’ll get activities to facilitate insight-making moments through reflective writing. And a conversation party with other people taking part. No more than 8 seats for this.

Last seen at Neilson Hays Library in 2014, one guest had this to say about SELF…

‘Overcome my fear of writing’
I AM WRITING because I wanted to thank you all for sharing ideas and memoirs, I am very much impressed and really enjoyed the workshop [SELF]. I’ve been working on my writing, and finished one short story which I feel so happy after I finished writing it (it’s in Thai.) I’m working on its English version pretty soon and will send to you all for the feedback. Bottom line is I’m happy to let you know that I’ve somehow overcome my fear of writing, though there’re times when I got stuck with the stories, get distracted, or feel like it’s not good enough – if it was before, I was just going to give up. Now, I feel it challenged me and I find writing more enjoyable. Most importantly, I feel like my writing is getting better too. —J. Lee, Bangkok, 2014

In sum, SELF is a workshop that, intriguingly, also doubles as a conversation party. Meet people interested in exploring, through writing. Find your theme. Peel back the layers. Put your phone away, in a box. (Yes, really). And show up for yourself, for the others, and for a conversation in just under 3 hours that very well could change the course of your year. Are you on for the challenge? Register here.

Disclaimer: If giant life-changing steps follow this workshop, we are not responsible for the people in your life who get mad at us! This has happened. 

Readings from S P A C E

A POPUP CONVERSATION salon, with snippets from our 2014-2017 highlights from the ezine, S P A C E. We will be hosting this in real life at a venue in Penang to be shared with registered guests only. Free with RSVP. To RSVP, contact DK through the form here.

Wanderlust || Cameron Highlands

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

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

S P A C E || New things

MEET DK in Kuala Lumpur to talk about things related to creativity, learning, play, travel, journaling, and the journeys. It’s an open-space format conversation salon. If you’re curious about new and different others, and are interested in a chance to connect I ways that don’t involve hand phones, Google, CVs, or bars, this could be a good fit, for you. Ideas. Personalities. Really talking, and about things in depth, not trivially: that’s S P A C E. This is part of the Atelier S P A C E || Kuala Lumpur (17-30 January) programme. Location details to be shared with those who indicate interest in attending. Let us know you’re interested thorugh this form? Agenda, meetpoint to follow from there.

After Cameron

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

Let’s talk travel, photography, and wanderlust

TODAY AND TOMORROW, we are in Cameron Highlands hosting a popup salon-workshop. The theme this time is photography, and travel in general. Never thought that I would start writing and blogging and conversing about #travel, you know, with the hashtags and everything. It seems so overdone, these days. It seems like people all over the place want to write about all their places they go and all the people they meet and collect them up on social media and pretend like everything is supersaturated, perfect-perfect posty-posty. You know what I’m talking about, right? Anyway, I got inspired to host this when I found this place, and stuck around long enough to have gotten a feel for it. It is authentic. That’s why we’re doing the popup here. Let’s talk travel, wanderlust, showing up, real life, and authentically gathering and sharing stories. We will do this together in a very small circle, with those who opt-in to join me for Atelier S P A C E || Cameron. In Cameron Highlands? Discover more about this popup atelier, when you click ‘upcomings’ and the details are all there. To the journeys! The new, and the next.

Letter from the Editor

WELCOME. S P A C E is where you are.

S P A C E is an eZine, a print zine, and a series of real life ateliers.

It looks like this. We are making these ateliers.

WHY MAKE SPACE. We are doing this because we love new people, new places, and sharing from our 20 years of experience in calling out some of the best of conversation through carefully designed and well-facilitated space for real dialogue.

VALUES. Authenticity and sincerity over coolness and broadcasting, for us. No posers. No fakes. No phonies. (And no phones, please. When you join one of our ateliers, we will ask you to put yours in a box, stow it away, and attend to it when we are finished).

Who’s interested? It’s not for everyone, real life. But it’s where we like hanging out it.

S P A C E is invisible. But S P A C E connects us all.

Subscribe here | View upcoming ateliers

 

Atelier S P A C E || Penang

Click for ticket registration page.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

S P A C E || Games & Coffee

LET’S CONNECT. In real life. Meet Design Kompany for games over coffee.

Bring your favorite game.

Free with RSVP*. (*Exclusive of food and drinks).

To RSVP, send us an email through this form, and we’ll confirm your registration. If at least 4 say ‘yes’, we’ll make it *happen*:

 

Battambang vis-a-vis Singapore

JUST LANDED. It’s been quite a shift for sure, from Cambodia, and we have a hefty notebookful of things to say that we will hold off on saying until we meet in real life, for Authorities might not like us making Off the Cuff Statements (and we should also refrain from Generalizations and/or Snap Judgments).

I had thought that the Atelier S P A C E event next weekend would be widely welcomed (nope). I am learning that it is the practical and pragmatic, as J. told me yesterday, that will usually win out over the merely intriguing. 

It’s okay.

We are zinemaking today anyway, to get into the mood. Who will be joining us, how it will happen, what we will make together is an open question, but here at DK we are all about the open-ended query. The shape of space that emerges, when just-because-some-said-why-not showed up, and made a thing *happen.* Battambang was a good one, we made this zine from the stories that came together for the instance of P’chum Ben 2017. ONCENESS is part of it. The urgency of now. Fun to think in a week we will start on the Singapore issue of S P A C E. Here’s to the journeys, the new and the next.

Printed Matters || Atelier S P A C E pre-event

PRINTED MATTERS is a conversation. About printed matters. And about matters of printing. Playfulness is a prerequisite but this is for word-nerds, print-nerds, design-and-arts-and-crafts-nerds.

Atelier S P A C E is a zine-makery on-the-move, a global conversation about local voices, local stories. People getting together, sharing things, and creating something special, to them, for them, and by them. In a curated open circle.

Intrigued? Come join this pre-event, where we explore printed media and other high-octane cultural mumbo-jumbo in A Spaice’s hallmark playful, casual space-setting.

Register here.

Unofficial programming at Singapore Writers Festival: Atelier S P A C E || Singapore

I forget that so many people want to be sold to.

Click to read our full programme

 

Editor’s Note: Design Kompany spent most of October so far exploring the idea of going to Singapore for a popup zinemaking atelier. A new concept came into shape after more than 40 conversations. But A. Spaice tells the story from behind-the-scenes, of just how hard it is to co-create (and why making space for it is that much more important.)

I FORGET that so many people want to be sold to, not think. And certainly not to think with you. I forget that, when I make the initial overtures of, ‘What do you think? Want to explore something we could create, together?’ But lately, in the overture-making to possible co-hosts for Atelier S P A C E, I have re-learned this. It feels like I’m back at my old job. And that’s not a good thing. Openness is more interesting, to me.

Open Space. Which of course, is the whole idea behind Atelier S P A C E. When we meet together, just 8 of us next month, we’ll come up with ‘a thing that it is’ together. But only after conversations. Lots of them.

AFTER MORE THAN 40 conversations in recent weeks with people in Singapore about ‘what it is’, the unifying concept for Atelier S P A C E || Singapore has taken shape. (Will spell it out for you, in a moment). Finding it, though, had a lot to do (edit, had everything to do) with learning what it is people told me they thought it might be, or how it could be interesting for them. Of course. This, in design, is called ‘user testing.’ Which sounds weird. It’s just like saying, ‘Hey. I’m making ice cream. This is the sample. Do you like the sample? No? Why? What about this sample? Better? No? Why? Tell me why, or. You have a better idea? Great! I want to hear it. No, no. Tell me, really. Do.’

 

AN EMERGENT IDEA. While I was on the virtual journey towards this set of designs, selection of venues, and ideas for programming, a lot of things happened.

One: I found out I really prefer real life. (If you know me, this one is ‘duh.’) I forgot that I’m much more happy to talk to people in synchronized, real life conversations than online. Then again, it is easier online. You can send links and instagrams.

So there’s that.

But I also found out that I don’t have to do this. If no one whatsoever had played with the ideas with me, I would have skipped right over this and headed straight to the next stop. Already started putting out a call of interest for co-hosting venues, people, collaborators, design houses, scruffy cafes, slick clubs, cocktail places, all that. At the start, you have a wide, open field. Later, you close in on a concept, and once you have that, you do not veer. Which is why it takes so long. I don’t veer, so I need to know it’s this one, not that other thing that I thought of ten years go, or the thing you just said, just now. No. I need to know. This one. And for Singapore, I have this one. Meet in public spaces. Popup style. Off the cuff, off the official programme. See what happens. Make magic, because the real art isn’t what’s on the walls or in the vaults of institutions. the real art is us, showing up, right here and now. How magical! For this moment. Together. Shazam!

Many people left the early conversations. Or didn’t reply. The early conversations are the toughest ones, though they are also the most important. Because the early conversations are the ones that we use to design this thing. Talking. Talking with us. Helps. Maybe in the early conversations it’s clear that DK doesn’t seem like it’s going somewhere. Or, in a few instances, people just came back to us with an unwelcome hard sell. That was odd, and unfortunate. Like, are you gonna buy from us, or what? And we don’t do that. I mean, it’s not like we don’t buy anything, but until I get there and we start talking, then I can’t see you or know you. Maybe that’s how they feel about me? But co-hosting isn’t buying something, is it? Maybe people are worried to lend their name to something that’s unproven. A risk. But nothing cool comes without risk. Every single one of DK’s clients, 1995-present, knows this.

The weird part was when people wanted to sell me their products, or advertorials.

No. Definitely no, no no.

I’m just not into that. That’s okay.

New people have emerged, ‘getting it’, I imagine, or maybe it’s just better communicated and that massive question, ‘What IS it?’ has found a compelling ring of what seems to be a well-articulated answer. Which is what the early conversationalists who left were looking for. Tell me what it IS. At a time when I just couldn’t. But now, thanks to the early folks and their stated or implied ideas about this, I, myself, now know, personally, what this IS, why I’m doing it and why the people who I’m looking for should care.

Like on every other design journey, so far, the thing it is has emerged.

The earliest folks are gone.

Meantime, new ones are knocking and saying ‘hi.’ This good. This is how it happens.

THE CONCEPT. The overarching feedback was that the people in Singapore are looking for an experience, a nightlife kind of a jam. Not too much like a scruffy coffee shop jam session, mind you, which would be totally fun for me (and probably will put that together in Seattle or San Francisco, when the atelier moves to those places). But Singaporeans, we found through our conversations, are more interested in something that has style, elegance, poise, and gravitas. Does it connect to something prestigious? Does it have weightiness? Will it lead to something more interesting, i.e. new people, new connections? If yes, then it’s more interesting. That is what we heard.

So we’re gonna do that. We’re gonna do the nightlife thing, in unofficial popup style. Take the stages of public spaces, go where people are convening. Here is the kicker. Notice that the real art isn’t what’s on the walls, but what’s there, in the ambient interstitial space, the S P A C E that we will make, in real life, *together*.

Who’s interested in doing this?

Let’s *make* something.

Let’s play.

Hit me up.

A. Spaice
PS Or if you know for sure you want to really do this, go here and book your spot. SYT!

 

‘Let’s make zines!!’ Chiang Mai, 2014

 

‘Curious and intrigued’, a note from Singapore

NEXT MONTH IN SINGAPORE, DK are going to be hosting a popup, weekend zinemaking salon, Atelier S P A C E || Singapore. It’s not quite what, I think, fits into the usual programme of ‘writer event, go to the library,’ and ‘design event, go to a conference,’ and ‘open space, that’s some kind of tech thing, isn’t it?’ But rather, a combination.

Only eight seats for this, and it’s open-invitation, this time, but the idea is to gather quite a variety of perspectives so that the thing we make when we meet to do a zine together (S P A C E Singapore), will necessarily be inclusive and curiously unusual.

It’s going to be 10-12 November. Starts on the Friday night at 7PM at the National Gallery. (That’s the meet point on the first day, when we’ll kick things off in a light, fun, easygoing conversation salon. I’m looking forward to this so very much.)

Based on the notes coming back from the internet, so far, I’m seeing at least a few Singaporeans are ready for this kind of thing. [Update Very nice to read ‘curious and intrigued,’ when I opened one of the responses. But truly, I hope so. The real creative process which I think is missing quite a lot, not just in Asia but the world in general, is one that involves tons of room to invite lots of new and different perspectives (for input, for exploration, for hitting on something novel). How can you ever hit on something different if you always approach the same people, discuss the same things, never leave the boxes? That’s the thing. The silos are where the dullness, mediocrity and complacency set in, we feel. And innovation suffers, and we’re all left with just boring stuff, all around us. Boring because it was a sole person’s ‘idea!’, good for them, but what about the whole, the collaboration, the gestures that can be made when we go where we’ve never been? Outside the comfort zone. Mmm-hm.]

At DK, we’re a little zany, sure, but we are totally serious about our work. Quality matters. It’s important to me. There will be some interesting conversations ahead, for sure, as there always are in our programmes. Conversations! Zines! How fun the two of these things together can be.

GET INVOLVED. I’m excited, ready, and… busy. Skype calls all next week with potential partners. Curious how to get involved? Check out our new page to find out what we’re looking for. Reach out through the form there for the fastest response.

Launch of a new chapbook, Phnom Penh || S P A C E

MEET DESIGN KOMPANY this week to get a copy of our new chapbook, Phnom Penh ||  S P A C E. It contains some of the highlights from our 2014-2017 series of images. It gathers select short, quiet moments in a new collection, which has not been shared elsewhere outside of our online community, S P A C E. Many of these will be unexpected images: this isn’t what the ordinary passerby will make a note of, we are certain of that. Only by staying still in one place for a time can you really start to finally see it. Which means, of course, recognizing that you can never see a thing fully, no matter how long you look or how much you investigate, unless you see it clearly, with your heart.

‘How arrogant it would be for me to write about Cambodia,’ I said to VS yesterday, an earnest young man who, after working in international development, is freelancing as a translator of English to Khmer, his native language. He tells me I should write a story about __. I say, ‘No. __ is not mine. __ is yours. These are not my stories to write: these are yours. What I can do is show you the viewpoint I have, as a person who sees space in a very particular way. This story, this visual communication, without too many words that can clutter meaning, this is what the Phnom Penh || S P A C E chapbook is about.’ Curious? Get it when you join S P A C E this month.

Phnom Penh || S P A C E