One of the first gigs we had at Design Kompany was for the rebrand of the Capitol Hill Chamber of Commerce, back in 2006. CHCC, according to this neighborhood website, has since closed.

 

Time, design

Akira Morita took the lead for DK on this design, working with me on it, and through that process, discovering as we went, with our clients, what the goal would be for the image-making. In other words, its concept.

Concepting well means a lot of talking. About why.

And that’s not always easy, especially when a group is just forming.

Being based in Seattle, the ‘how we go about this’ was heavily influenced, naturally, by agile methods. You try, you test, you see, you rework. We started sketching a lot, presenting in pencil, not overworking or over designing, and continuing to develop ideas until something was feeling right—and not just for one or two people, we all know what I’m talking about here, but the collective group. The whole.

Timing is everything, sometimes. We were there, in Seattle, after Ireland, at that exact time when the Capitol Hill Chamber of Commerce was just getting started. Just. Like. Us. DK had a new office, a storefront one, and right up the street from us, a few blocks over, in the same neighborhood, was the CHCC.

‘Let’s play’

Our office on E. Olive Way was base for DK for about a year, which was very visible on its streetfront, and, as such, quite easy for people to discover us.

Then we moved to our apartment, and later, up the hill, past 15th, a few blocks down from WET and Fuel. Many en evening would I spend at the Washington Ensemble Theater. Perhaps another indication that one day, I’d be writing mini plays and springing them on people in unexpected cafe, restaurants, eaters, and other people’s literary events. Anyway, after Olive Way and the other place and some other stuff that took place in between, DK shifted to a house by a park with a tennis court and playground.

We called it Kornerhaus.

There, we kept our PLAY going.

Akira Morita made the PLAY piece pictured on the wall // Photo by DK Seattle 2008

The spaces where we most got a kick out of gathering with our clients also worked well for making parties.

Sugar, Pop, Dazzle, Flourish, and Gather, to name a few. (Some people who are reading this blog may recall it…)

Yes, we’re still DK.

Yes we’re still at it.

Making things, not always design the way we used to design,  because that was then, and this is now. It’s experiences that we are specifying bounds and briefs for now, experiences for people to gather and share. Meaningfully, not trivially. At least, that’s what it was from 2013-2019. Next is next.

Content matters, to us. Much more than ‘logos’ or ‘looks.’ It’s getting people together, still, mixing it up if we can. Importantly, as always, in ways that invite the new and curious, which precipitates that magic thing of self-discovery, too, along the way.

Designs, and even life decisions, from these openings, somehow make themselves.

 

Shifts

Six years in Capitol Hill… intriguing to see how much the place changed, in our journey there, with it.

Looking around on the web, it’s cool to see that the CHCC had used our design right up until the end of their days, more than a decade after we created it.

Longevity.

I like that.

Progression and playfulness with the ideas… looking back, I see it’s a common thread, with our design works. We want to always leave room for interpretation, so the in-house designers can play with an idea, too, make it a little bit their own, and breathe new life into it, when the time calls for that.

Shifting, poetically but also purposefully.

Like any relationship, things change.

But how you allow for growth–that’s the key to sticking-with-it-ness.

All of that…

To say….

The beginning was a fun thing. I remember it.

This design came into being. A concept…

A brand identity scheme, with colors, and this logo…

The year after Akira and I finalized it, handing off the CD with final files (yes, I said ‘CD’), I went by to see how things were going. Smalltalk and the like. They were happy with it. Like many other designs that came after, people were responding. Clients smiled. People enjoyed the connexion. And the image–the connexion-making start point–made it begin to begin. Relationships, after all, have to start from something.

We soon started getting known a little bit around Seattle, I think. Mostly for our ‘clean, modern’ design style (winning new gigs, mostly for architects, after that).

Here are the business cards (photo by Victor Ng):

Was interesting.

Was simple.

Was… one ending, for a chapter, for us.

On this blog, back in the late 2000s and for some time after, I used to go through and write down all of everything that we did for everyone. A whole bunch of text, yeah, you thought this was long. And pictures.

A bunch of, say, process pictures, or the mood boards we made, even in-progress pictures. I blogged it all.

Reason is, I think, because I value transparency. Showing the process. And encouraging conversation, throughout. Even with people on the sidelines, or just watching, or walking by our office to peek through the window, to say, ‘What’s that?’

Maybe the chance encounter will invite a fascinating insight.

You just never know.

I continue to invite and connect people, to our programs, projects, and real life salons, to this very day, wherever I am. Reflecting. Hm.

Now, I wanted to push the envelope.

Again.

 

New beginnings

So that’s why, in February 2020, DK is opening again for graphic design and communication design commissions.

Remote. In person ( I can tell you where we’ll be)…

Get in touch.

‘Design is making meaning’

Akira Morita‘s old portfolio page on Behance has more about the work we were doing around the time of the Chamber, if you are curious, while we were in Seattle in the early 2000s.

Meantime, since then, we’ve been changing and growing quite a lot. But, while iterating, DK’s core team of Akira and me, along with a handful of coming-and-going teammates and a small circle of collaborators, continue to make headway by discovering, together. Usually by making up projects, and testing them out. In the field. In real life. It’s so great.

Doing this is our work.

Both of ours, separately, as well as here at DK, together.

Spacemaking for discovery. 

In different fields, with different people, and amongst different palettes, backgrounds, storytelling styles, and with new people, too. It’s always evolving, around here.

To keep in touch to find out more, join our mailing list. The mailing list for 2020 is called, ‘New chapters.’

Here’s a link.