Work: Design Thinking in Phnom Penh


DK is a design thinking consultancy based in Phnom Penh.

Heads of organizations and businesses engage DK so that they can improve on the work they do.

  • Together, we look at big questions,
  • The kind of questions that invite thoughtful engagement, room for new perspectives, and emergence of innovative ideas, too.
  • Note: How, exactly, DK set the stage for this will, very often, challenge the status quo. More on that below. But first, !*…



!* is for Fun. It has to be fun. Remarkable connexion doesn’t have to be hard to make happen. We can design for it. How? Through the simple act of hosting sessions in ways that are inviting, engaging, and light. Workshops, salons, installations that juxtapose people and ideas, plus low-key get-togethers are how we have been practicing, here at DK, over the years since we started in Seattle in 2004 as an LLC. In 2015, we started the international salon series 16N. Why? A fast, light way to engage with people. And have fun, too. And discovery. And… going to the edge of the ‘bounded box’ which is the box of us here at DK, just a small team, and looking for new people to connect with, in a new way. And… more.

BIGTALK. Not everyone is on for this kind of a journey. Truthfully, making more time and space for ‘let’s do this better?’ requires firstly admitting that there is a gap between where we are and where we could be. In a world that rewards narcissism and beats down ideas that come from humbler sources (due to so many things), we can’t really do ‘better’ if we’re not open, can we? So yeah. Here at DK we are at work to gather people in circles, of all kinds. SN called this ‘circle time.’ Which really fits. But it’s very decidedly about moving towards a better mode of operating, not the other kind of circle times (pre-school, work, family, etc. We are on purpose asking people to meet with those whom they normally wouldn’t sit down and talk to. Which opens everyone’s eyes to new modes of thinking, perspectives, and of course the serendipity that we must have in order to build towards better, and more progressive, ideas. We’re all in this together, right?) Over the last 10 years, through our conversations we have seen people take actions that are astonishing: changing their entire company focus, selling warehousefuls of equipment, discovering that they want to open a different line of products, leaving their jobs, and even opting out of their marriages. Like we said, not for everyone. But if you are interested in taking a good look at yourself, the work you do, and why it matters, then you can talk to us. Consulting for people who are interested in that, but also, check out our current programme offerings, some of which are self-guided. Whether for work or play, DK are making room for people who might not have otherwise crossed paths to see and be seen, hear and be heard, in a way that’s often described as ‘honest’ and ‘refreshing.’

Do what you do better. Challenge yourself to ‘N+1’ it. Ready to take a test drive? Open the box to get started with a four-week free trial of S P A C E.

What people say…

‘I had such a great experience with N, the whole way home I was smiling from ear to ear. You really should be proud of what you accomplished.’ ‘Thank you so much for inviting me… it was really nice to connect with free thinking ‘strangers’ in such a safe setting… I found it very inspiring and I have so much more hope and feel more positive…’ —Guests of ‘N’ Hanoi
‘Many times designers will do what you tell them to do. But you two would not. You would say, “No. That’s not a good idea, and we’re not gonna do that.” That was new. You made us think, and in the end, we got to a stronger design together. Thank you. —Kenneth Hui, NUK, Phnom Penh
‘My favorite part of the process was the fabulous aha that came when we did our customer activity. DK had us name the personality traits of different kind of customers and once we organized these traits into personas, it was as if a veil had been lifted. Suddenly, conceptualizing what we do, the value we bring, and who we work with became clear. Anyone who’s worked for a startup-stage organization knows that gaining this clarity is far more challenging than one might think. We’ve incorporated the learnings from this exercise into all of communications, and it helps other people get it too. DK stressed that you have to earn your customer’s trust and loyalty. Truly great brands understand this. —Sarah Kate Fishback, Green Plus, Durham 2010
‘Our new name and brand reflects how we’ve grown over the past three years from a research focused company to what we’re all about today: creating truly unique custom mobile solutions for our clients. You guys really helped us out with finding our niche.’ —Richard Stott, Matchbox Mobile, Brighton & Seattle 2008
‘Thank you again for your patience and creativity in guiding the design process and for producing such beautiful branding for us.’ —Karen Armstead, The Broader View, Seattle 2008
‘I really am pleased with the work the three of us did. The logo is a perfect fit for our company’. —Dave Eva, A1A Inc., Seattle 2008
‘Setting out to launch a new organization, our board and staff were appropriately all over the map about what we’d call it. Design Kompany gave us synergistic tools to get us all to the same place and of the same mind. We wouldn’t be who we are without Design Kompany’s expertise and facilitation.’ —David Yeaworth, Allied Arts of Seattle, Seattle 2008
‘Thank you so much for all your hard work, everything came together so well 🙂’—Anna Mihkels, Group3 Architects LLC, Seattle 2007
‘Wow! It’s catchy.’ —William Harding, Bonanzle, Seattle 2007
‘I love working with the new design–it’s much more beautiful and easier to assemble as well.’ —Ann-Marie Stillon, NW Asian Weekly, Seattle 2007
‘Our invitations turned out to be more beautiful, elegant and sophisticated than we imagined they could be.’ —Carol Vu, Seattle 2007
‘Love it. I really like the freshness of it. Most health care stuff is too somber, serious, wonkie, depressing or obvious drug company marketing hype.’ —Terry Gardiner, MyVoucher, Seattle 2007
‘Working with [DK] was nothing short of sheer joy! Their communcation and creativity allows space for a very natural, authentic process. Together we seamlessly created a brand that truly, effectively speaks volumes.’ —Aimee Gallo, Vibrance, Seattle 2007
‘Design Kompany recently came to the rescue of our new organization. They helped us build our new identity and brand, and the whole process was FUN! I have years in marketing, PR and I learned a lot working with DK. Their methodical, creative, curious approach was refreshing and productive. When we were tempted to incorporate too much, they’d gently guide us back to our own mission. When we got confused, they got us back on track. Their ability to work at both a birds-eye and granular level concurrently impressed me and I’d work with them again in a heartbeat!’ —Amani Ellen Loutfy, Capitol Hill Chamber of Commerce, Seattle 2006
‘I had a great experience working with Akira at Design Kompany. His designs and input played a valuable role in growing the business. The website he produced is clean and concise, the logo looks great, and the business cards inspire compliments from everyone who receives one. I learned a lot from participating in Design Kompany’s idea charettes and have continued to incorporate those ideas into my own creative process with much success. I would highly recommend working with Akira and Design Kompany.’ —Sarah Marsh, D+A Studio, Seattle 2006
‘Your touch is really delicate and modern. Quite lovely.’ —Ponzi Pirillo, Gnomedex, Seattle 2007
‘We’re confident we could not improve on this and will not need to update for many years. Many thanks for all your hard work and professionalism.’ —Barbara Connelly, Atlantic School of English and Active Leisure, Co. Cork, Ireland 2004