SELF Ha Noi

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

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

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

Discovering Origin

A CONTINUATION in virtual space of conversations near and far about things related to ‘fromness.’

Where are we from, what that means to us each individually, how multi-local identities shape who we are.

This is a build on something that we had run online last year, a series of 12 conversation starting prompts designed to open this kind of discussion. It was called ‘Home & Away’. Welcoming back those who participated, inviting those just connecting now to mix, together, in this one-week conversation, ‘Discovering Origin,’ in virtual S P A C E.

7-DAY PASS.
Be part of it when you join us with a 7-day pass, here’s how to get it.

Metaphilosophy and metaphysics, with clouds

MEET ME IN THE SKY?

Get together with a very small group of people to talk about things that feel more interesting than the usual drone of:

  • ‘How long have you been in Phnom Penh?’ (yawn)
  • ‘What do you do here?’ (Why? Are you job hunting?)
  • ‘Where are you from?’ (How about ask me where I’m local?)

The idea. After a series of four really amazing ‘Rooftop Philosophy in Phnom Penh’ salons, limited to just a few people and small and informal in style, we bring back Rooftop Philosophy in Phnom Penh, this time the #5 edition, by invitation only. Share your availability with DK by email and we’ll choose a date and time that works for most. Max 6.

Agenda. Guided, prompt-led conversation. No experience or expertise necessary. Proficiency in English is best, but all are welcome. Light, relaxed, nice view. How to design space for great dialogue? Conversations that, I promise, will veer far from the vein of the above. That is the work of DK.

Fee. USD $15 per person to participate. Free for patrons of DK. (Want to become a patron? Here’s how.)

RSVP through the form below. Details to follow.

Rooftop Philosophy in Phnom Penh
Rooftop Philosophy #1 – #4 happened here.

Seeking interesting people in Berlin and Hanoi

QUICKLY.

A short note.

About ‘onceness.’

And ’16N.’ I’m looking for interesting people to invite to a 16-way blind date. ‘Interesting’ has a lot of definitions, I’m aware. I guess for me, the kinds of people who would say yes and show up to something as wacky as an ‘N’ deems theme exceptionally intriguing. I can tell you now, why.

Making the magic moment *happen*

DESIGNING MOMENTS. Two years ago, I was sitting in a cafe in Phnom Penh wondering if I would ever meet Person A again. The conversation had gone so brilliantly, but it was just a passing thing. Wasn’t it? Yes. That was fine. Not everything has to be eternal friendship. But… what if it could’ve been a different kind of setup? As in, the stage-setting for the two hours or whatever it was, so that the actual time together was *better*? That is the work of designers, isn’t it? To make things *better.* So I started drawing on a napkin, thinking about nothing. I made an ‘N.’ It was weird. I put a vector sign over the top. Now it was ‘N’ vector. What the? Geometry?

And then, weirdly, it hit me.

What if 16 vectors crossed just ONCE?

What if 16, which is a nice number, people who’d never met were invited to join in on a once-off conversation salon? Of course the theme would start with an ‘N’. The place? A venue with an ‘N’. In a city with an ‘N.’ Just for symmetry or maybe poetry, 16N events in 16 cities. Yes. That. That is how ’16N’ got dreamed up.

Salons on topics like BEAUTY, ORIGIN, and ENNUI from 2004-2015 in Phnom Penh, Seattle, and Durham NC have been experiments to discover what works, what definitely doesn’t, and how to enjoy gathering people in bounded boxes of temporal, ephemeral space and time. Skilfully designed. For highly present guests.

The first ‘N’ events were in Phnom Penh and Bangkok. (NORMALITY and NOW). Next was London (NOTEWORTHINESS). Continuing. Making it happen. Improvising as we go.

Can you help me discover people? New and different others…

The kinds of people who’d be open to enjoy a short evening of playful conversation, some improvisation maybe, and ‘let’s just see how it goes.’

Know anyone like that? I hope yes.

Introductions are very welcome. All the instructions and updates are on this page: http://16n.strikingly.com

Discover more about 16N at this page.

Get more like this, and exclusive articles from DK

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

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Who I make N for

THERE COMES A TIME IN EVERY LIFE where we face a crossroads.

You know when you’re there. It’s a big deal, this noticing of the moment of having to make a very significant choice. Which way will you go?

Who are you, and why are you doing this? The guest had asked.

Sincere question, and yet, I couldn’t find a way to answer honestly, not quite. I mean, I had some ideas about what ‘N’ was about when I first hosted it, here in Cambodia’s Phnom Penh. I got clearer when I did this again in Bangkok. The goals for ‘N’ Phnom Penh: NORMALITY and ‘N’ Bangkok: NOW were, I think, more about making something interesting actually happen. Rather than, you know, sit around and imagine how much better everythign could be and complain that there is no good art anymore, and why is that, and the banal nature of everything that gets popular on YouTube (a woman I had asked on twitter about why her post went viral said she thought it was because there was an element of ‘hating on’ someone else, that those were the posts that went around quickly, and so, she was writing more of those kinds, to get attention, even though, she admitted to me, she really felt like her other works were better.) Quality, then. A space for something magical to happen. What does tat mean? It’s different for everyone.

But I think, really, when asked if there is a point or a purpose to gathering people in 16 cities around the world, cities which have an ‘N’ in them (two ‘N’s is better, of course), to converge with 16 strangers to talk about a topic that starts with an ‘N’ is that, really, well, these are quite arbitrary constraints, no?, and that, in fact, there is no point.

Let me reiterate..

The point is this: there is no point.

Something I learned from Man and Superman, last summer in London at the National Theater. Sitting in the audience in a place I had booked two days prior, while home and searching the internet for people to invite to ‘N’ in that part of the world and discovering, well, look at this, it’s Ralph Fiennes acting on stage, and this is Bernard Shaw, and, well, I simply must… attend this.

Is there a point?

No.

That’s what they said.

That’s what they said, right there, on that big stage. The world of theater is so brilliant, sometimes I fall in love with it, and it’s very good to keep going to things. I’m not the type to just up and go to foreign countries on account of plays happening, not usually, in fact this was a lark, but I am so glad I did. Because I care about learning, and people, and connection, and Art. Capital ‘a’ Art, that is. The kind that you can experience over time, across distance. I don’t think the same feeling would have emerged if I was reading it, but I did find it on Google books and got a few of the lines that most moved me. One of them of course, and I’m paraphrasing because the best bits that you feel when you hear them may not fit the agendas of those who post online with quotes that back up their own viewpoints (it’s really real, isn’t it? Bias.) But my own bias is this. I believe that the purpose of living is to live in the moment, the unadorned, unattached, unexpecting right here and now. And ‘N’, I think, is about onceness, chance conversations and connection happening in a closed, bounded space where someone (that would be me) is ‘holding the space’ for people so that they feel safe, included, welcome, invited, warm, and, if this goes well, and I think it has, judging from the past experiences with 32 people I didn’t know before in BKK and here in Phnom Penh is that, yes, that is valuable. Yes, people want converastions that go beyond the usual variety of ‘paid or laid’ agenda. I know! I’m saying that. Out loud. Here. I want to talk to people who want to talk to me, about the big things, the art the culture the light the space the beauty the moment the magic. The magic! It’s very exciting when we can discover one another, and arbitrary constraints are a big part of design projects. So the brief I made for myself went as such: Find 16 people in 16 cities. The people won’t know each other. They will show up for a ‘big blind date,’ they will have decided a date together, collaboratively, and they will do this by making a commitment first (in this case, purchasing a ticket). Such a commitment makes it easier to believe that it will happen. I have made a promise to the guests who have registered. 16 people. In one moment. To meet and talk, together, about NOTEWORTHINESS. That’s the London one. The Copenhagen one is about NEARNESS. Hoping that the dates for both will be kind of close enough together that I can just make one big trip there and go to both places, so that, you know. Airline tickets. Time.

Here’s another one, from Man and Superman:

‘This is the true joy in life, the being used for a purpose recognized by yourself as a mighty one; the being thoroughly worn out before you are thrown on the scrap heap; the being a force of Nature instead of a feverish selfish little clod of ailments and grievances complaining that the world will not devote itself to making you happy.’

Can you dig it?

#play16n on: twitter instagram facebook

Now registering for ‘N’ London, ‘N’ Hanoi, ‘N’ Copenhagen, and ‘N’ Bologna. Say hi through the note below, if you’re curious. I’ll share more.

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

THE MOMENT.

The sharing. The conversation.

The !*. The a-ha.

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

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

Twiceness is impossible.

Tried it. Failed to find the magic moment.

Noted.

So what, then, about framing onceness?

Onceness

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

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

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

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

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

A story in Ha Noi begins: ’16N’

IT IS TIME to go to Viet Nam again.

A lot of conversations in virtual space, lately.

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

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

‘What?’

‘What’s in it for you, DK?’

‘…’

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

‘…’

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

‘But what’s in it for you, DK?’

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

‘Dude. That sounds really esoteric and inaccessible.’

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

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

Get ‘N’…


Get N

A salon about the creative process and why we bother to make, design

SALON & MEETUP FOR DESIGNERS. This is the first time that we have ever hosted Designers Korner in Phnom Penh. We’ll make it short, sweet and a chance to mingle with creative people based in this city or just passing through.

Here’s everything that DK is currently hosting >

We have a LinkedIn page that connects people who’d participated in Designers Korner when we were based in Seattle. That was a lot of fun. It was a regular event, once a month. Let’s try this and see how many people show interest, and go from there. Tickets are available here.

It’s designed to be very small, and a chance to share some of the creative projects we are all working on.

DESIGN KOMPANY is seeking creative people to connect with in real life.

Designers’ Korner is a traveling series we throw from time to time when the feeling is right. Started in Seattle 2007-2009, and has since been seen at arts-friendly venues in Durham NC and Bangkok. This will be our first Korner in Phnom Penh.


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

THE WHY. The world is changing, and the ‘how’ of making work work is something we can learn from one another in a conversation salon like this: real-time, real-life conversations with others also doing, making, sharing and growing. DK seeks others who are interested in learning about the way others think, that is, who are open to new ways of trying things. Ultimately, we make a break from the old thinking of ‘this is how it’s always been done.’ Status quo kills beauty in design. That’s what we feel. Making spaces for us to meet and talk is the ‘why’ of Korner.

WHAT YOU’LL GET. Are you a designer? Do you work with people? Are you interested in talking more with others who do both? Come to this first-ever conversation salon of ours in Ubud and you’ll get Design Kompany’s eBook, S P A C E VOL I, an annual of our 2016 discoveries in the best thinking on the way things are changing in design fields and new inspirations. A $55 value, S P A C E VOL I will be yours for free.

A LIGHT PROGRAM. Perhaps you’re interested in talking shop—about international business styles and how they vary, about lessons lessons learned from growing a business that continues to evolve, about trends and chapters in the emerging fields of digital technologies, communications, and how we relate to others through visual composition, through words, through Snaps… Let’s meet and talk more. A light program will be shared with those who confirm attendance. A secret venue for this, which we’ll share when you order your ticket. Meantime, welcoming your questions.

QUESTIONS. We are open to all conversation-starters, and welcome you to join our space. Best way to connect is twitter, but we are also on facebook and instagram.