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!’
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.
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:
NEXT MONTH, we’re going to host an online conversation called ‘Slow Moment.’
It’s designed for writers, photographers and people who practice slowing in all its many, many forms. In this post, I’m going to tell you a little bit about how the online projects here at DK work, and also, why we’re doing the 12-week sequence on the theme, ‘Slow Moment.’ I’ll start with the latter.
The idea started when we hosted ‘The Mirror‘, in which one prompt was ‘Slow Moment,’ and the responses that came were so fantastic that it led me to dedicate an entire 12-week block to just this subject. We talked about family, the woods, walking. Hikes, oceans, and being on our own. We talked about wanting to go places, going there, and what happened when we did. Relationships. Journeys. Endings, and new starts.
OPEN SPACE. Popouts. Allowing people to spend more time talking together about the topics they are most interested in. That’s how Open Space works, and that’s how we’ve been conducting our four-years-and-counting online project, S P A C E. It’s a salon. It’s a workshop. It’s a community. (And it’s just celebrated its fourth birthday.)
For me, moving towards the focusing in 2018 on the conversations that have developed and progressed is a really cool, fun step. Maybe we’ll create an anthology, perhaps a photozine, to share sometime in the fall, based on where we take things now. You never know how things can flow, they can meander, they can fizzle, they can blossom, they can die. It’s not a big deal, really, what happens. It makes room for new things to grow. New input. Original thinking. Freshness, space… that sets the stage for innovation.
HERE’S THE THING. I could have continued doing design for the next hundred years, when the work was happening and I was getting into it, and clients were referring DK, and so on. But what did I do? Move to the other side of the country, start over. That’s how it changed into more of consulting work; but also, salons. Started doing weirder and funner things, like ‘Aether: Is the Medium Still the Message?’, a series in which we invited guests to talk with us about the old ideas and the new ones when it comes to making media. Took that from Durham NC up to Washington DC, then New York’s Bryant Park, then Boston. Came back and made even more, even weirder installations. (Like ‘I Went 2 the City (And There Was Nothing There’, and more. I can talk about them for pages and pages, but that’s not the purpose, here.)
I want to invite you to join us in S P A C E, if you are getting a link to this page from me personally, especially. When it comes to making this invitation, what I care about is the spacemaking. I show up. I have the thing designed. If people enter the box of S P A C E to play, and they do, they really do, sometimes, then I’m happy to host. That’s how it’s been and that’s what’s going to happen now. I’ve just received the first application for the 2 July start of ‘Slow Moment.’
IT’S A PLEASURE as always to read these applications. It feels like getting letters in the mailbox. It’s personal, it’s warm-hearted, it’s sharing. People write a lot of beautiful things. I can’t tell you what they are, because of confidentiality, but the whole thing makes me feel very humble. If writing for the sake of writing were all there was, we would keep our manuscripts in drawers and never show them to anyone. Of course, that happens, and it’s cool, if that’s your thing to just write and be a writer or photograph and be a photographer, and never share, then cool. That’s you. But it’s not me.
Sharing is a part of the experience, to me, of making art. And being ‘in’ on the process of how a thing is made is something, I’m just realizing as I write this, and as I make zines with people here in Finland, is a huge piece of my own approach to art. If you can’t see how it’s been made, what is the fun of seeing it in its final form? Especially now that we have this two-way medium of communicating (web!), why not enjoy the process of developing our works, as we are making them, with others to write with, share with, post pictures to, engage with. But I’m not talking about 1:N. I’m talking about very small circles. Like, four people in each. I’m inspired by my way back in the day fifth grade class, and the style we used to have there, in small groups. Four of us would have desks facing each other, and we had these little ‘pods.’ I’ve since learned about the ‘jigsaw‘ method of teaching, and realize what an impact it had on my own way of learning, approaching things, and asking peers for their ideas on what I want to know more about.
That’s probably why I’ve reached out, in recent months, to more than a dozen of my favorite photographers. People whose work I’ve seen in real life, or really admired and reached out to and subsequently met up with just to talk art-shop. People who are doing really cool things. Whom I wanted to ask, ‘What do you think about really seeing, really noticing, really going into the quiet spaces and enjoying them, and then, somehow, photographing or capturing them through written words? It’s a big question, for sure. But… what do you think?’
Some of their answers are already prepared for you, in the upcoming workshop… ahead.
But to give you a sneak peek, here’s some of what I learned.
SLOW MOMENTS let us remember what our story is. To ourselves, about ourselves, but also, who we are in relation to others. (And in an existential way, to the cosmos). In many ways, I think for many of us taking part in DK’s online salon-workshops, we’re just talking together in these online circles because it gives us a place to share.
I’ve been making S P A C E salons in real life for a while now, and the goal is to create a cozy space where people who don’t know one another can simply be together, and talk if they want, or not-talk if they feel inclined that way, and simply be who they want to be, which I hope, in S P A C E, is who they really are. So many other facades are out. So many guards are up. In the real world, I mean, and in the social media world, too. But who are we really? When I connect with people in S P A C E, I feel I’m talking directly to them, their real selves, without all the layers. That’s a privilege and a responsibility. But I think, I do really think, that I’m getting kinda good at this. That’s why I’m not quitting the salon-hosting online, not yet. I’m going to keep hosting as long as I get amazing applications. And I do. So I will.
S P A C E is where we write, talk, and comment; it’s asynchronous, and it’s international. I encourage pen names, too. It’s not about google-ability or sounding smart, or anything weird like social media commenting status quo goes. I don’t understand how social media got so out of hand. I really miss those days when twitter wasn’t algorithm-y, nor did it have promoted ads, and we could just say ‘hi!’ to @anyone, and it was chronological, and not driven by… agendas… Of all varieties.
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.
THIS IS HAPPENING. It really, really is. Four years of cojournaling. Two calls for interest in Januarys past. One short eBook anthology. And now, a small handful of people in timezones scattered who are saying ‘yes’ to the experiment and conversation that is this thing we made, together. Welcoming very warmly both new and returning guests to this year’s The Mirror. More is on the way, check your inbox. It’s exciting, isn’t it? This is my dashboard. Like it? More
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.
AN 8-WEEK or 12-WEEK online programme that prompts you to ask questions designed to elicit self-awareness. Reflection. Connection. Discovery. It’s a 1:DK conversation that is exploratory and emerges, week over week. You’ll be able to choose-your-own-adventure as we go, selecting from the grab-bag of more than 100 prompts that DK have built over the 2014-2016 period when we had hosted something else, called the ‘cojournal.’ Discover and share, co-discover with us. By invitation only.
Competing interests. Times that you were starting to do something, and then you didn’t, because… what? Distraction. Something came up. Something that you thought was going to happen didn’t, because of… what? Lack of commitment. Lack of conviction. Something else popped up on the other end. No worries, nothing gets done, time goes by, nothing gets done, because… why? Lack of commitment. Lack of showing up. Not caring enough about doing it, because you are too busy considering other options. Paralyzed into inaction because of… what?
CLEAR WRITING. Is important. Direct, to the point. You don’t have to get ornamental with it. These are the things I am saying to the person I used to be, not even two years ago. I guess sometimes you have to revisit the spots where you were, and look at what you said and wrote and did, and maybe shake your head a bit. ‘Really? I wrote that?’ And suffer a bit of embarrassment, but mostly to yourself. Because at the end of the day, it’s really about personal growth, isn’t it? When it comes to making something that you think is ‘art,’ and that’s a giant debate, in and of itself, but for me, art is conversation: when sender and receiver are locked in a timeless, wordless dialogue whose content only they can know. Maybe that’s because of intuition, or the zeitgeist, or the collective unconscious (all things I read about incessantly, and used to blog here, but don’t now, because… editing.)
But there is good motion ahead. The Book of Songs is returning. I’m reworking it completely. It’s so very good to see where the old threads left off (January 2015) and tie them up with some of the new ones (2016, 2017). So it’s going to be part of the next bundle of writings, which you can discover more about here.