DESIGN KOMPANY’s co-founders are Akira Morita and Dipika Kohli. Our editor in S P A C E is Michael Bridgett, Jr.
Akira and Dipika set up DK in Seattle in 2004. Prior to DK, they worked in: journalism, architecture, tourism, event management, and graphic design.
The pair first found synergy in the mid-1990s, when in the midst of a generally boring gathering, they discovered a shared interest in ‘going outside of the margins.’ So they got people to meet in small groups of conversation circles, inviting *new* and *different* others to convene, connect, and play. Later, in the 2000s in Seattle, these took on a different form: big parties like Sugar, Pop, and Dazzle. People got into it. So did DK. Now, DK exclusively works on facilitation of ateliers. Sometimes these are for client projects. Sometimes for sheer fun.
‘You are building community,’ one guest said at an office party that doubled as an art show reception. Another time: ‘I had some amazing conversations with people I never would have met before.’
How to do this well? Elegantly, artfully, and with respect to the whole picture: that is, the people who show up and want to take part, in a real way. Meaningfully. Not trivially.
DK continue to design more and better S P A C E.
Cool, fun and *awesome* space that invites room for everyone to be heard, which is, of course true dialogue, the kind that has a center, and not sides. Since 2014, DK are based in Phnom Penh, where Akira is focused on design thinking. Dipika makes art books and zines, and comes up with ideas for conversation salons that ‘get us all out of our boxes.’ From late 2017, DK took to the road, to begin a popup zinemaking series in real life with mostly new acquaintances. That’s Atelier S P A C E.
THE SITUATIONISTS HAD A CONCEPT, of Drift. To allow oneself to wander and stumble upon the new could open wildly exciting and unforeseen doors, and shake things up. DK: ‘Any creative person who isn’t pushing herself to continue to grow just isn’t going to find anything out, so we are designing spaces for people to engage with this kind of approach, to let themselves discover through their own experiences how to feel one’s way towards what’s cool and fun and new.’ Worlds change. People quit jobs, move across the country, shake up their relationships. They also say that DK’s salons are ‘refreshingly honest,’ and ‘a breath of fresh air.’ Shaping space for true dialogue, the kind with a center, and not sides, is DK’s big work. ‘Are you growing, are you learning, are you continuing to try new things? No? Then go back to the drawing board, come up with a new idea. No, come up with 49 new ideas. Then we’ll talk again.’