That was cool, getting in touch and sharing, and hearing from you. Thanks! Been fun, conversing as we do, now and then, all this time.
When we met, I was in one of my many, many borrowed rooms assembling this issue of S P C, (left), which was the first of the series from Latvia, Poland, and Slovakia.
So many cool people, and connexions, and conversations happened on those roads, and I was grateful for the opportunity to get there, HT AM!, and to enjoy them. A different world now, right? Difficult to move about so freely. Guess I got lucky, going when I did.
Something told me… why not just go now ? Some timing though, really. Those were places that sort of left quite the impression. I was a little surprised with myself to prepone my trip by like a year (the writers’ residency I’ve been invited to be part of in Ventspils at the International Writers’ and Translators’ House was due to happen in November 2020). Not sure when I can get back for that, or if, so yeah. Glad to have gone and met you and others ! Lucky timing. (HT, another friend whose first initial is I…)
Who knew we would all be dealing with lockdowns in various spots around the world and a pandemic, at this time ?
I’m in Vietnam.
Currently in Vietnam..
Well, here I am, doing exactly the same work as I was when we had met. Good people are around me, here, too, and I’m lucky as heck to get to assemble new writings from their points of view, and images, too, which some have shared (like this cover!), and this time, some cool stuff: spatial organic design. I’ll put together all the credits, for sure, on the day we launch, and share more about each of our contributors, then. ;)
That’ll come out on 30 June, with the issue, ‘Start with Something Simple.’
Always happy to reconnect with you, I.
[Moving the rest of this to a protected-page.. I’ll post it tomorrow. Will send passcode then!]
After about seven years of not doing any graphic design work-for-hire, something changed.
Someone asked me to make a thing.
I started it, and as I went, I realized, it’s time to bring this service back and offer it again, to those who might run across this site and say, ‘I like that! I want to hire these people. Who are these people, anyway? And what is S P A C E?’
Glad you asked.
We are a team of people who collaborate in the cloud: Dipika Kohli is the creative director. Akira Morita is a cofounder working on design thinking and innovation consulting. Jas Plac does our outreach and communications. And A. Spaice does research & development. These days we make a weekly e-mag, called S P A C E. it’s about design and discovery.
The people we meet in the places where we go (mostly Southeast Asia and Northern Europe, since 2014), share stories, sometimes, and when they get to a place where they feel like they’re becoming something substantial, we shape these into ‘zines.’
They’re 16 pages, each, designed to be read in a single sitting, say over coffee. At times, we make black & white issues so they’re easy on printers, so you can download, print, fold and assemble your own, by adding your own creative flair.
Got into a bit of a discussion about this with someone yesterday who is 24.
This person was highlighting to me his past work, in something that I didn’t find too terribly intriguing but he really wanted to impress me, I guess, so we watched some clips of things that he had produced. I suppose he is an event producer, but not trained or anything, just self-designed. That’s fine, of course. I’m self-designed in design, having studied civil engineering and worked in architecture and journalism. But design is something people just ask me to do.
For example, a friend from that era, VH had asked me to make a senior t-shirt, when we were in high school, because she liked my drawings and comics, and no one else was putting forward an idea, and I was the Vice President of the Student Government at that time, so we put out a call, I think? And I don’t think anyone entered. So I made it. I don’t even know what it looks like now, thinking back, but V. had liked it and was happy. I had done t-shirts for Governor’s School East for my hall, too, and before that a lot of things like program covers and posters through elementary and middle school that had won prizes and stuff, so. I guess. That it was… destiny, haha. Or just… a knack for it. And lots of attentiveness to continuing to do it, not get sidetracked by other things, just doing the drawings when I felt like it. Helped that this was in an era where we didn’t have internet. Nice thinking about the senior t-shirt design, again. That was fun. I was 17.
Depth. I was talking about yesterday’s conversation and somehow got distracted thinking about being 17. It’s kind of related, though, right? I mean, you get good when you practice, but you have to have some kind of latent talent to start getting good, too. And encouragement. Fact. In my case yesterday, I think skipping over ‘talent’ and ‘practice’ and ‘encouragement’ was taken for granted by this young person who saw $$$ ‘I got paid for this’ $$$ as an indication of its having had value.
Not to me.
The thing I saw was just… well. Lacking in substance.
Happens. And more and more these days, when we have substitutes for real life in the form of video streams and chatboxes. What happened? Well, that’s out of scope, here.
My thing is, let’s bring some of the good stuff. Let’s open the doors here at DK again, and show people how they can arrive at… quality. I know how to do this. Why not share. Selectively, of course. Not for everyone.
I have a particular way of deciding if I will care about a project, which has everything to do with the attitude of the person asking me to work with him or her or them. Truth is, if I don’t see much thought in something, I have no interest whatsoever.
Most people I meet on the road I will know for less than three hours. I meet a hell of a lot of people, on the road. Yesterday, I just listened politely, but then, something happened.
Weirdly, it just did…
Sometimes this does this. I went into speechmaking mode.
Perhaps because we had a third guest, join us in the middle. Who. Was. Really. Attentive, and who had gone through my samples of drawings, and poetry and other stuff that I felt like sharing, with great admiration and accolades. Okay, it was flattering, but yeah, he really was curious about me, my work… my thinking. What I’ve been up to here in Vietnam. I have some stuff now that has Vietnamese language translations, too. So you can tell, if you’re the kind of person who can tell, that is.
Maybe there’s not one particular type; but there are a few people… one out of a hundred?, who resonate with DK’s style.
D: The other day, someone asked, What’s your TEDx talk about? I said ‘Death.’ Then he said, ‘Ooh!… Edgy.’ But it was 8 years ago
A: You are. DK is edgy
D: Well, once someone in Seattle said I was popular
A: You are not popular. You are edgy
D: How is this ‘edgy’! I don’t even a phone and I type on zoom chat to you and use email
A: That is edgy
Quality is a vector: it goes up and down
Everyone knows capitalism doesn’t care about quality (or morality, or ethics). It has one thing it cares about.
This—DK—is different. This is a place where we optimize for something else.
I call it…
The level of thinking, the level of work, the level of caring, and something that had… substance… was clear to this third person. Not my companion in the conversation, but the third person. For that guest’s benefit, despite my headache and slight cold and all-day bus ride, and variables that I don’t feel like putting down here, despite it all, there I was, launching, as I do, into… well, S P A C E.
Was kind of fun, actually. HT KEF, who would have enjoyed it, and sat back, I know, smiling knowingly, with the sharp observations of only KEF, which would go, roughly, I think, ‘Just another step in the evolution of DK.’ Since KEF and DK have been acquainted since, and were dear friends for most of the mid-1990s, I can picture it, and I can enjoy the knowing that yes, that’s it. We’re on a new trip, now. All kinds of things are starting up again. But, quietly.
Anything is possible, that was our tagline back in 2004 when we started DK in Seattle from that chic architects’ office sublet. I wonder if AH remembers it. Or EP. I wonder if JK does, or if any of our clients, guests of brown bag lunches like Dream Kitchen, or collaborators for projects who helped with illustration or photography or web dev, or friends, or guests at our parties like Sugar and Dazzle will recall it. The feeling. The feeling of going into the unknown, together, to quest what we may. In a place that goes… there.
Think Sun Ra, for example.
Think… Art, substance, magical potentially… taken together, a little spark… set against the backdrop of Debord’s Society of the Spectacle blandness… what is this? This? This is DK. This is what we do. Discover, design, and outline it: together. Quality.
I’m just gonna tell you what it was like. Being out here, where I am. Over… lockdown.
Being known to someone and seeing that person or set of people regularly: that’s been absent, these last four months. It’s a curious and intriguing opportunity, though. To find out things, totally solo, with no agenda, no history with anyone, and even kind of forgetting about the old histories. Which is liberating, too.
My balcony hotel room on the fifth floor was a gift, for three solid months. I am lucky. I think my favorite part was the amazing wifi. I also had a view of the sky, and some stars, on the days before rainy season got going in full swing. Part of why I left there, finally. Also, you were allowed to move around again. And so, me being me, I got in a taxi, then a bus, then another bus. [deleted]
The only things missing are the balcony, wine and the pistachios. Also my Zoom kind of broke. A bit of a story, but… I prefer it this way. [deleted] I’m happy writing. And, a lot. And zining, of course. Setting things up for 23 June and 30 June‘s issues. They’re called ‘Continuous Partial’ and ‘Start with Something Simple.’
Also, I was playing new music, while talking to old, old friends on Zoom and asking after them, also just snacking away on pistachios, because these are good. And it felt quite cozy, too, because this reminded me of a different moment, in another hemisphere, and another decade. Seattle. And with pistachios, that time, too. Also, water. I didn’t have wine, then. I was just so happy, that day. Played some of my favorite music, enjoying the simplicity of it. Knowing what feels good, and setting things up. (HT… well, you know who you are… it’s been more than a decade since we met, wow. I suppose that’s how it goes sometimes.)
It was good, then, and it is good, now.
The next things are coming up now. Wineless, pistachio-less, and balcony-less and even kind of zoomlessly… but what that does is… it…
S P A C E.
HT Guests of ‘Papers‘. Thanks for being there and sharing so, so much. I appreciate it! <3
I’ll work on that poem, about what we said about the book you said, if you want. Plant consciousness and feelings and stuff. What was it called, again? I emailed you back today; check your filters because everything goes to filters now, seems. Anyway, thanks again, and… see you very soon, I hope, because there is more to talk about, for sure, when you are more free.
About a year ago at this time, you gave me a pen, M. It came up in a conversation a few weeks ago, about the ‘giving of the pen.’ It also featured in ‘Expanding Windows,’ where I did a live mini-theater re-enactment of that day when we were fated to cross paths, the stuff of this issue of S P C.
There were four people I talked about at Expanding Windows: you, R., C., and N. I’ve been in good touch with the others ever since parting ways with each of them, in recent months and weeks and even days, it’s like that, on the road. But you… where are you, how are you? Did you quit? I wonder. As you are the fourth corner of this very square Square of who inspired me most with Atelier S P A C E in 2017-2019 and why (new, different, changes, ‘the character realizes something’, etc), I wanted to post this. To let you know. In case you see it, that you are missed. I really do wonder about how you are there, now, and how you are faring. Hopefully safe, sound, and well.
If you want to know more about what I’m writing lately, I used the pen just today, and I can send you a picture of the text. Thanks for the great inspiration, once again. I hope you are doing the things you said you would, and if yes, cool, and if not, well, then I hope some of my new friends in your town came by your workplace to pester you about it. I said it would be cool with you. I hope I was right.
‘Reality & Trust’ will take place in either Hanoi or Ho Chi Minh City, in late June.
What’s real? Who decides? Let’s talk about it, offline.
REALITY & TRUST. What’s real? Who even knows, anymore. But let’s parse it out, in real life, together. The way we consume information now becomes how we read and experience and interact with each other. But I remember a different time. When you would walk into a place and see people like actually live-talking together with facial expressions and eye contact, with no dinging and ringing things in their pockets, just hanging out, maybe telling jokes? without having rehearsed them, hello, why do people do this, or just simply laughing out loud, and not being so overly concerned about ‘reactions.’
EVOLUTIONS. In June 2017, I was in Hanoi and hosting a popup installation in real life that was called ‘N’ Hanoi: Narrative.
There were tickets. Limited seats. And, a *secret location*. Which I shared only after people committed to it. Why? Trust. The idea was, you didn’t quite know what was going to happen but you trusted enough in the concept (or me, if I met you in person) to show up on the day and say, ‘OK. Take me on a journey.’ It was beautiful. There’s even a selfie. Now, here we are in 2020, the exact same month, and let’s move on to Reality. Real life is great, and for me, the best channel for conversation and real connexion. The quality ones that I most enjoy. ‘Make what you wish existed’ is advice I got from Saleem Reshamwala, who has that pinned on his twitter, and I think for me these events are *it*.
HANOI OR SAIGON. Now I’m Vietnam. I have been, since February (guess why!), and I have two weeks left. Shall I come to Hanoi, or Saigon, and host a conversation salon for those of you who are reading this and saying, ‘Yeah, we need to discuss things in real life spaces with people whom we don’t aleady know?’ Right now I am a 12-28-hour bus ride away from either spot. But!, I will go there, if people are ‘on’ for this. I know, right? Random. Yet. I like it this way.
LOCATION. I’ll share the location of ‘Reality’ with registering guests *only*. Min 4. Max 8. Advance bookings only.If 4 people book, I’ll get the night bus from where I am and tell you where ‘Reality’ will be.✨✨✨✨ This event will take place either in Hanoi or Saigon. It just kinda depends on who says ‘yes’ first and confirms with a booking. Min 4. Max 8. Advance bookings only. Old school, keeping it real. Meet other people who appreciate showing-up-ness. Right? Crazy.
Why am I doing it like this? Well, you can read all about ‘N’ if you want a mini-manifesto on ‘The Culture of Maybe’. Note: I’ll refund any tickets 100%, for you if the city you book for isn’t as ‘in’ as the other one. Of course, I’ve also seen people travel for these. Distances like from Paris to London, once, and other times, too, but it’s really because they are already familiar with the kind of jam session DK makes space for. It’s not like anything else. You have to experience it, because I am not posting a ‘sell it to me’ glossy instagrammy piece of junk here. I’m posting… The Invitation…
SPACEMAKING. Even in so-called ‘lockdown,’ which is really not that serious where I am, the thing that I do without really knowing how I do it somehow naturally came to *happen*. But actually, there is a method to making S P C. The zine, and the offline moment, too. It’s simple, really.
First, go and look at things. Be there. Show up. A lot. And pay attention. Next, discover. Without really meaning to, my natural inclination is to somehow find… true artists. This does not mean people who sell paintings. This does not mean people who ‘get published.’ This means people who are sensitive, thinking, and feeling. Like, very. The sincere, in other words. What I do is turning out to happen more by natural proclivity towards Spacemaking now, rather than by Atelier S P C’s version of trying to design it all in advance, is good. Feels right.
JUNE | PAPERS. In other news, DK are starting a fresh batch of Papers. Co-creating through June, in the cloud, with the very curious. So far, so good. Happy, in the cloud. (Did I invite you to apply? Maybe I did. You can still apply for the waitlist, here.)
For those who are curious about Papers, thanks for asking. Attention, time, replies: I am happy to converse about this project to gather us for moments of remarkable connexion in the cloud. It’s a natural segue from our real-life 2-year roving project, Atelier S P A C E. From that we got to know a hell of a lot of people and have invited handfuls to connect, and meet, and converse, and make, with us, issues of our mini-magazine, S P A C E. Sometimes it’s just email, sometimes it’s a whole collaboration on a complete issue of S P A C E. See some of the things we have done in our online shop. It’s meant a lot to me to know there are some people ‘out there’ who got something out of conversations with me. We’ve come a long way since starting S P C in 2017. To our early supporters: thank you. To our recent guests and collaborators, welcome. I really appreciate all this, and I’m excited to share more, soon, with those who are interested in keeping up with us in S P C. Last week we published one of the best issues, so far. I really love it. It is Issue #75. Wrote a little bit about it here: https://designkompany.com/issue-75/
Sometimes we share messages with people in our small but growing network. Which, if you know DK, and all our things since Seattle in 2004 (gosh, really, that long!?… who is reading us from there! HT LT, JK, and EG, if you guys are reading), then you already know, our network is highly self-selecting and also rather closed-invite, too. Focusing on the people who are most interested in what I am interested in. Questing. S P A C E quests S P A C E. Can you dig it? Here’s the set of zines that came of conversations in May’s ‘Papers.’ They are a mix of digital zines, and printer-friendly ‘make it at home’ black and white versions, like the first one, below.
Next up, is June’s ‘Papers.’
On deck, is June’s edition of co-creating in the cloud. Making fresh, new and fun conversations *happen*. In S P A C E. We’re planning these, for example, in June..
‘Papers’. It’s going to be very simple this time. Email. Just email. I know. Real simple. It’s called ‘backwards innovation.’ (I did not make that up!)..