Virtual salon: Philosophy of the Moment Section B

DK host a 4-week conversation online with an international, asynchronous circle of curious new and different others. Follows on the TEDx talk by DK’s creative director Dipika Kohli, ‘There’s Not That Much Time Left.’ (Watch it here.) Questions about what we are doing, where we are going, what things mean, what they don’t, and how it all pieces together (or doesn’t) abound in this philosophical exploration in a hosted, protected-page forum series. DK designs and moderates space for discussion in our interactive magazine S P A C E—for example, currently, these are the active spaces.

POTM. We are going to spend some time talking together specifically about ‘the moment.’ Travelers and artists, romantics and poets all know about the difference between time that is spent and time that is well spent. Kairos and chronos time, the shifting edge from one ot another. Can we focus and look at these questions: when is it good, what makes it great? How do you know when to change things up? Learn something new. Share. Perhaps you’ll write and read your way to discovery of what you don’t even know you know. The goal is to create a safe, welcoming and inclusive space for sharing and conversation–but there are very limited seats, and there is an application process to look for the right group. We are interested in building this unique forum for those who are asking big questions, but aren’t able to easily find others who are from other backgrounds, places, and who have had different experiences in life. Philosophy: the pursuit of making life more pleasurable through considering it from various angles. Let’s try this. Let’s converse. Let’s play.

 

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.

Atelier S P A C E || Kärsämäki

MAKE A ZINE with just eight people.

Meet new people. Make a publication. Short, sweet, and on the spot. Join us at Atelier S P A C E || Kärsämäki. 

DESIGN KOMPANY are hosting a popup workshop, Atelier S P A C E, at Kärsämäki in Finland.
This is a zinemaking atelier.

It will kick off on 21 July, which is International Zine Day. This is a family friendly event.

A zine is a short collection of images and words usually photocopied, in small quantities, and distributed by hand.

Here is why it matters.

Zine culture is making a comeback, as more people distrust the usual news media channels and turn their attention to what people they know personally, and whom they feel they can trust are saying, making, and sharing. That’s why social proof and social media are important. But there is the old, more traditional way of relating to people: in person. So let’s make time and come out for a real-life conversation series that gets us all talking together, with those we might not have met, in an unusual way. Working and collaborating to put something new into the world: a zine. It doesn’t have to be a big task, nor does it have to be ego-driven. Everyone knows what a pain it is to work with artists!

Art can connect us, but the specific kind of space that does it well needs to be designed. That’s where Design Kompany steps in. ‘I thought it would be neat to use the zine format to do the work of bridging silos,’ says DK’s creative director, Dipika Kohli. ‘Anyone who has ever worked in publishing knows how important the first few meetings are, where you simply brainstorm ideas together. That’s the fun part… seeing what others want to know more about, learn and discover in the world right around us. I remember doing that when I was in southwest Ireland, working with an alt newspaper there, very new, very fun, very loose, and very exciting. Given the times we are in now, we can try to engage people in ways that get us all talking, get us offline again, in public and semi-public spaces, to just simply be. Not work. Not home. Not the internet. But a place where you can just relax and talk with people about things that are going on. Conversation is important. Let’s make more of it, and then, let’s find a theme, and work together to make a zine.’

Atelier S P A C E uses the zine form to gather people’s voices, and interconnect those whose paths might not have crossed. The big idea is to make something new, together. Systems thinkers say that gathering people for spontaneous spaces that might lead to new insights is one way to begin the road to innovation. Breaking new ground starts with trying new things. Leaders in their fields recognize that finding a new way to discover is a real need. Creating opportunities for people to practice how to do that is one of the goals for DK’s ateliers. But so is good fun, and making something new, with people in a creative way.

‘Art, at its best, is a conversation,’ says Kohli, an author and artist who practices and studies relational aesthetics in her more recent work. ‘Making more space, and more quality space, for us to learn about and discover new perspectives, from new people, is what our ateliers, salons, and magazines are all about.’ Here’s how it works. ‘DK go to a new place, meet people and co-create something in a short, on the spot workshop that’s also kind of a performance art installation at times (when it happens in public space!). I think you can get a sense of it from our Instagram, dkompany. Generally, the idea is we’d make a piece with new writing and other visual elements for an 8-page zine, S P A C E. And add it to our collection of zines made in the same way in different cities.’

ABOUT DK. Design Kompany LLC started as a brand identity design studio in Seattle in 2004. In 2013, DK went on the road to practice the unknown, uncertain and different, which led to new connections, with new people, in new places. This set the stage for 2017’s and 2018’s intent to create zines, in the short spaces of time, while on the road looking for the chance encounter…. And folding it into S P A C E. Atelier S P A C E is a traveling zinemaking popup Atelier, designed in response to a new realization. People aren’t used to trying new things. People need space and time to get back to exploring, in a playful way, towards new approaches, and even innovations. Starting the tour in Southeast Asia in Sept. 2017, DK have created zinemaking ateliers in: Battambang, Singapore, Kuala Lumpur, Phnom Penh, and Bangkok. ‘The idea is to explore ways we can co-create hyperlocal, interwoven stories with new and different others who participate in the atelier’s salons. Through conversations, we find a theme. Together. It’s a collaboration to make a unified piece, and each issue of S P A C E highlights the conversations, places, and people we each discovered in the bounded box of either one, two, or 4-week ateliers,’ says DK’s Kohli. See the journey of S P A C E so far, at http://instagram.com/dkompany.

Special thanks to Kahvila at the campus of Kattilakoski Culture Cooperative. 

REQUEST INFO. We have limited seats for this event. Request more info by email to find out more. Here is how to connect with us:

 

G R E E D

THIS IS a conversation salon for people who are conscious about the state of the world and the implications of G R E E D. It’s a space for sharing and processing, together, with others whose paths we might not have crossed. The idea is to mix things up: social justice, activism, international development, sociology, political discourse… we are looking for people interested in these topics. As well as those in business, in positions of making policy, of tempering runaway G R E E D. Is this you? Let us know. A new prompt will post each Tuesday. You’ll have a week to reply in an asynchronous forum, hosted at this website, and we’ll move the dialogue to what emerges, the following week. This takes place on Tuesdays in May. Let’s talk about G R E E D. Let’s work some stuff out.

Apply to be a part of it. Use this form:

 

1 April | Launch of S P A C E Vol. III 2017 collection, ‘Circumference’

ON APRIL 1, a new collection, ‘Circumference,, will launch here at DK. It is a set of writing, imagery drawn and photographs made throughout 2017 in S P A C E. Our ‘Year of the Circle’ conversations in virtual and offline spaces led to dialogues that moved and shifted. In the end, we could see the gist of the thread: what makes for softness in our approaches to life, and work? Roundness, not squareness, that invites listening, seeing, empathy, and compassion. Which we need more of in this world, right? (Else we shall see more of the same: mansplaining, for example, and related irritations.) So DK examined those questions.

A new collection, highlights from Vol. III S P A C E 2016, ‘Year of the Circle’

We read from Inward Revolution (J. Krishnamurthi), and Lady Chatterly’s Lover (D. H. Lawrence), the latter of which was originally titled ‘Tenderness.’ Marketing can so spoil a thing can it not? The original intention for the title, though, is… Important. When the author wrote this book, he had already figured out what we are just waking up to: toxic masculinity, the pursuit of power, the conflation of money for prestige, and the lack of care (and respect) towards women is a giant problem, for all of us. The inattentiveness to what tenderness can bring us, and I mean tenderness, for real, is as Holden Canfield would call it a big black eye. The sheer obliviousness is crippling society from feeling well. Belonging, wholesomeness. Morality, culture. So much sharing on this topic informed the writings born here. (The back and forth nature of ‘call and response’ is how DK design and host space. So the meander, softness, intrigue, discovery and comfort that come with a rolling circle, bumping into walls and falling into holes (HT Shel Silverstein), makes this collection whole.)

We studied Non-Violent Communication, Cognitive Behavior Therapy, and Authentically Relating for this work of researching and corresponding with those members of S P A C E who opted to participate. This is how we grew, together, towards a new understanding. This is a co-created work, edited by A. Spaice.The S P A C E || Vol. III 2017 ‘Circumference’ collection includes the zine-stories S P A C E || Battambang (‘Here comes the Dance‘), S P A C E || Singapore (‘Dunlop & Perak’), and S P A C E || Ipoh (‘Highlands‘). Plus essays, Q&A pieces, features, and photo collections from Phnom Penh, Ubud, Kuala Lumpur, Bangkok, and Penang.

We are sharing it for free with our members, on 1 April.

In S P A C E.

Join here.

Notes on Synthesis and Form

This originally appeared on our blog in 2016, and more recently, in S P A C E as a conversation-starting prompt. Amazing things came from that thread, so I wanted to share it here. Mostly for EC.

AUSTRIAN-BORN architect Christopher Alexander says in Notes on Synthesis and Form, that achieving a “frictionless coexistence” between a thing you’re making and what’s around it is the goal for every problem. The premise of this book is that “good fit” between a form and its context is key to good design. (This “frictionless coexistence” stuff reminds me of a story someone tried to explain to me in Japan when I was a high school exchange student in the boonies of Tochigi prefecture. “In Japan,” he tried to tell me gently though neither of us spoke too many words of the other’s language, “people have to get along, right? Because there are a lot of us in a small amount of space? So, it’s like this… you have all these people all next to each other, like this, and you want everyone to go smoothly around each other. Like this. Round and not square, see? And the idea? The idea is that no one disturbs anyone else, because we’re all moving easily without smashing anything up.”)

Open the first page of Notes. It says:

Every design problem begins with an effort to achieve fitness betweeen two entities: the form in question and its context. The form is the simple solution to the problem, the context defines the problem. In other words, when we speak of design, the real objective of discussion is not the form alone, but the ensemble comprising the form and its context.–Christopher Alexander, Notes on Synthesis and Form

I have this nagging suspicion that most designers don’t really do a lot of thinking about the context. A problem that’s not new, it seems:

Today (1968) functional problems are becoming less simple all the time. But designers rarely confess their inability to solve them. Instead, when a designer does not understand a problem clearly enough to find the order it really calls for, he falls back on some arbitrarily chosen formal order. The problem, because of its complexity, remains unsolved. —Ibid

Here it is… ‘Some arbitrarily chosen formal order.’ This is what the book I’m reading right now (perhaps you’ll want to join another conversation, a discussion), Lila (by Robert Pirsig) argues, too. People just fall back on what’s already been done, according to… What the herd does. Status quo. ‘The problem, because of its complexity, remains unsolved.’

I wonder what you think? Why is this so, if it is, I am curious. What questions does this provoke, for you? Open format, today. No formal order… 😉

Comments were open from January – March in this (now archived) post, for members of S P A C E and The Mirror Section A. Learn more about The Mirror here.

Making more and better S P A C E

It has been four years since we began publishing our eZine, S P A C E. Which runs the gamut of topics relating to creating new, and better space, mostly the kinds that foster interpersonal dialogues that progress in a meaningful way. That doesn’t have to mean lifetime friendship, or anything. Just… It has to be real. Space for new thinking. New perspectives. New journeys, collaborations and friendships. New, though. New matters. New is where we push the edge, try new things, and grow. Meet me in S P A C E? Let’s play.

The Mirror Section B

Forget what ‘they’ say.

THE MIRROR is for helping you discover and listen to you. You don’t need anyone else to spell it out, but here it is: no one is going to regret it more if you don’t do the work than you. Did you read that article that went viral, a while ago?  ‘Top 5 Regrets of the Dying’? >

DK’s online workshop for 2018 is THE MIRROR. The unique reflection workshop THE MIRROR will give you a chance to discover your way to fresh, revealing insights. On you: the inner motivations that are moving you towards your goals, your dreams, and your heart’s desires. We are accepting new guests on a rolling admissions basis through the end of March.

WHO SHOULD APPLY. If you are questioning the goals and methods that you have or are using, then THE MIRROR is ideal for you to re-evaluate and confirm your personal values are aligned with what you are doing and making at work.

  • If you are in a period of limbo,
  • if you are in transition,
  • if you have just come out of something or are about to head into a new phase, THE MIRROR is a good programme.
  • if you have been through some difficulty or a change,
  • or something has pushed you to question your own goals, vision, mission and values, then THE MIRROR is an excellent tool.

SCHEDULE. Posts will be sent weekly. Each week’s is designed to be complete-able within 20 minutes. These are sequenced to help you discover with clarity the pop that makes you very much you, and only you. You will be invited to share also in selected pages of our concurrent conversations going on in very small circles in Design Kompany’s protected-page forums.

A few testimonials from guests of DK’s online programmes…

  • ‘Thank you for the opportunity.’ —Anonymous
  • ‘It’s a unique project and it’s pretty special. If you’ve been looking for some structure or accountability in your writing—and supportive community in very small groups, this could be for you… a compassionate leader… offers some accessible assignments that are helping to shift my writing lens. I love it.’ —MH
  • ‘Warmly recommend it.’ –SG
  • ‘[This] motivated me more to do what I wanna really do and kick some a**… Thank you, DK!’ —JH

JOIN THE MIRROR. You’ll need to apply, then to register: Apply. Choose an 8-week or 12-week option. Late registration fee is USD $160-200. Selected applicants will be invited to register.

S P A C E || Scraps and gems

THIS IS THE POST where I talk about the things that are hard to put into discrete bullet points, and that will not easily snap into some template that Spells Out Everything.

Like some of the early writings that had appeared here in the 2000s, I’m just going to talk to you without aiming at a spiffy conclusion. Like NB said once, ‘We are suspended in words.’ Inadequate as it is, here. Let me try to say a thing. If there is resonance, then that’s as good a thing as I can hope for.

SEARCH, QUERY. THIS BLOG is a response, in part, to the ongoing dialogues with the people right near me, and the new ones who have emerged from the aether of real life and laid out What I Am Missing. These things are part of being on the road. The blunt honest responses to things that are murky, that are unclear, that are esoteric, that are apart from the usual consumptions of what we intake, day to day, whether we are participant in the decision to swallow the so-called news wholesale, or not. (The buzzwords here are critical thinking, and resistance to the status quo, and innovation, and other things I don’t know but can imagine are trending in fancy-pants offices in high rises in the big cities of the world.) Which blips of the narrative are scraps, and which are gems? That is up to each of us, isn’t it, to determine.

To show up and ask questions is not popular.

To keep doing this and investigate towards the next thing that feels right (to you), is not mainstream. But, so? Now that DK are warbling about in the fourth dimension, it’s okay to ditch those old frames of thinking. The ones that say ‘Home is __.’ Or, ‘You should ___, and ___, and definitely ___. And you better do it before you’re forty, or else.’

The programmes today we intake, about beauty power success et al, are shaped by the obsession of social media scrolls, all over the place you see it… people on trains, buses, in their dinner jackets, with their phones glued to their hands. Locked in an endless, streaming stream of illusions of what beauty and power and status and food look like. (Maybe if you want to buy a lot of products, bags, clothes, shoes, items that make you feel smart, or important, or gadgets that make you feel connected, that’s your choice. But loneliness is big, with this consumption stuff.) Bangkok. Kuala Lumpur. Singapore. Am seeing it every day, the hard cold fact that More is not landing people where they thought it would. That the pictures they, hey wait, I and they, once held fast to are disappearing in our hands, like that photograph in ‘Back to the Future’ that Marty had in his hand, at the concert, when it was looking dubious he would get back to the Eighties.

SOCIETY OF THE SPECTACLE. But now, Now is a fading photo. Hijacking real life are the online spaces. Where there is ‘ambient community,’ and a sense of place. Sometimes, sure. But not always, and not enduringly, at least not in my experiences, so far. On the road or in one spot, doesn’t matter. You will have to eventually request the time, the space, to look and really see. Who do you ask this to? Yourself, of course. Distractions are there but it’s us who have to cut them out. Editing. Disconnection for connection. Which means selectivity. Which means knowing who, where, when, and how to show up for, not always the same answers, of course. Time, distance, and our pasts and emerging present change how we think about what’s important, what’s frivolous. Scraps can morph into gems, and vice versa. Love can burn us. We can die in any instant. There is no certain future. All this is uncomfortable for those of us who believed in the Programme that says just follow the rules, connect the dots, 1-2-3, there you go, and voila. You get a trophy…but… Did you really? And if you did, who cared about it?

Did you?

Did you win?

If yes, what?

Hard questions.

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. 

Timezones and persimmons

FRUITS. HOURS. It goes together, thinking about it. Sometimes, when certain hours go by, fruits come out of it. Yield. Is that what it is called? ‘Yield?’ Maybe it’s just fruit. Right? Let’s let it be. Fruit is coming, now. It took a while, to get things going, with The Mirror. I think that you could say that I almost gave up, a few times. You do that, when you get to the place where you think, ‘This is going nowhere. I’m going to quit while I’m ahead.’ It’s that ‘ahead’ part that gets you, I am learning. Because really, this isn’t a race. It’s not that linear. There’s no ‘going somewhere.’ There’s no ‘finish line.’ If there is, I think that’s the end of your life. Right? Why would you want to hurry towards that? Coming back to the hours. Timezones. I have software now set up for this so I don’t send mail at 4:22AM or try to get in touch with RS at the wrong time. Showing up out of the bluish, into the email inbox for R., who’s the first person I ever emailed, who is now in… Where? California?, and who might be like, ‘What the?’ (This next bit is for you, R. Remember? You were there, aesthetically, with me. About all this stuff. Relating, aesthetics, poetry. I remember. You, there, holding the light out. I saw. I followed it. Thanks for that.) A new year. Phone calls. The occasional letter. Real letters? Yes. I’m a fan. I have always, always been a fan of the long hand letter. Sometimes I lose addresses. I’ve lost all of them, now. Except two. Writing those addresses. Getting stamps. It’s not pressing ‘send,’ it’s dropping an envelope through a slot, sending it along with a little wave and a whisper. You do these kinds of things, when you’re… Interested. In round and not square relationships. In circumferences and not sides. In the shapes that emerge between people whose paths might not have crossed. In the art of just showing up, anyway, for this whole party. Reading the funny stuff. Enjoying the lightheartedness. A change. A lifting. And sharing that, more and more. But right. I already said this. In very small, trusted circles. Persimmons. I forgot to put in something about persimmons. Oh.

The Mirror

Forget what ‘they’ say.

THE MIRROR is for helping you discover and listen to you. You don’t need anyone else to spell it out, but here it is: no one is going to regret it more if you don’t do the work than you. Did you read that article that went viral, a while ago?  ‘Top 5 Regrets of the Dying’? > DK’s next online workshop is THE MIRROR. The unique reflection workshop THE MIRROR will give you a chance to discover your way to fresh, revealing insights. On you: the inner motivations that are moving you towards your goals, your dreams, and your heart’s desires.

WHO SHOULD APPLY. If you are questioning the goals and methods that you have or are using, then THE MIRROR is ideal for you to re-evaluate and confirm your personal values are aligned with what you are doing and making at work.

  • If you are in a period of limbo,
  • if you are in transition,
  • if you have just come out of something or are about to head into a new phase, THE MIRROR is a good programme.
  • if you have been through some difficulty or a change,
  • or something has pushed you to question your own goals, vision, mission and values, then THE MIRROR is an excellent tool.

SCHEDULE. Posts will be sent weekly. Each week’s is designed to be complete-able within 20 minutes. These are sequenced to help you discover with clarity the pop that makes you very much you, and only you. You will be invited to share also in selected pages of our concurrent conversations going on in very small circles in Design Kompany’s protected-page forums.

A few testimonials from guests of DK’s online programmes…

  • It’s a unique project and it’s pretty special. If you’ve been looking for some structure or accountability in your writing—and supportive community in very small groups, this could be for you… a compassionate leader… offers some accessible assignments that are helping to shift my writing lens. I love it. —MH
  • Warmly recommend it. –SG
  • [This] motivated me more to do what I wanna really do and kick some a**… Thank you, DK! —JH

JOIN THE MIRROR. You’ll need to apply, then to register: Apply. Choose an 8-week or 12-week option. Selected applicants will be invited to register.

8 January | Discover The Mirror

OUR NEXT ONLINE programme, The Mirror, begins on 8 January. Details are here.

What’s next for you?

If taking time to consider that very question thoughtfully sounds interesting to you (yes, we know it’s hard, of course it is, but is it interesting?…) then I invite you to apply for The Mirror. It is my favorite of our online workshops. I guess I like it because I’ve see transformations. So far, more than 50 people have taken part in our online programmes since we first opened spaces three years ago, all these would be online, for the kind of salon-style dialogue that: progresses; is carefully moderated; and is kept to a very self-selecting, small set of people. Real breakthroughs happen. I see it every year. You don’t have to be a pro at writing. Mistakes, drafts are welcome. It’s a journal, not a report. 😉 Since early 2014, DK has hosted The Mirror, this interactive and small-scale  experiment in journaling with others online. The framing question for its design was:

What if we could discover something together with those we didn’t know, but who were also exploring the same themes?

Great conversations emerged, resulting in a short eBook anthology, The Mirror. In recent days new conversations have inspired a fresh sequence of prompts, those that will, we hope, encourage people to break free of rigid thinking that ultimately confines us. For this I have CC to thank, in large part. (Glad I got to tell you.) If you are returning, there is more to share, on email, about the new things and a special group for alums.

The Mirror 2018 will circle in the new guests we are meeting in real life at our Atelier S P A C E programmes with our existing online community.

It’s fun, light.

And conversational.

Curious? Apply by 2 January. Apply here >