Desk Notes

Finishing touches, ebbs & flows

Called Cambodia today.

Breakfast in Cambodia, by DK’s Dipika Kohli (Kismuth Books 2016)

There is the virus. There is more of it than before. There are concerns and there are provisions, there are floutings, there are commiserations, and, like here where I am in Vietnam at the moment, there are the warm middays. These are the things I am hearing, in calls with friends and colleagues in Cambodia, in days of late. Was trying to find my way back to Phnom Penh for most of 2020. Then, it started to sink in that that just wasn’t gonna happen. So [deleted]… and now, here I am. Continue reading “Finishing touches, ebbs & flows”

Desk Notes

S P A C E | Book launch 2016 for ‘Breakfast in Cambodia’

This post is for my new acquaintances, T & H. I just wanted to show you the picture from a book launch I did in Phnom Penh in September 2016 [edited]. My, time goes so quickly. I won’t be showing up for this kind of event-making much in Vietnam, to be really really honest, because I have only met 2 or 3 people in my time here, 13 months and counting, who actually really ‘get’ it. The popup installation isn’t something that happens much herein naturally, because of, say, rules about gatherings of x number of people needing to have governmental approval and so on. Also you can’t speak out against the government or you will get in trouble. I might be in trouble for saying that but it’s a real thing. So instead of going around trying to make the hard things visible, I’ll just keep doing what I know how to do. Make it up as I go.

Continuing my experiments in improvisation, then, I continue to design and make S P A C E.

To the journeys!

Dipika

Photo: Breakfast in Cambodia book launch party at the now-defunct Tini cafe bar in Phnom Penh. More about the book is here.

Desk Notes

S P A C E is changing. Of course it is.

Special thanks to Hanoi-trained and Ho Chi Minh City-based product and food photographer Thắng Chu, of Uncle Photography, for the series of images that he took for us of our magazine, S P A C E. A few of them are below and also at our crowdfunding page.

What is the point of S P A C E? Design and discovery. Putting together the highlights of what we uncover, by simply inserting ourselves into the world, asking questions, and not giving up on the idea that you learn more when you learn more together. Here’s us, doing the jam, still. Discovering, and co-creating, as we go. Together, in S P A C E. Even when it’s a pandemic. Even when we’re not sure who’s around. Who’s interested. Who’s not blocking themselves from becoming better. Who’s okay with looking at something in a new way. In a country that doesn’t like to do that, it’s been one hell of a trick. Still, we keep doing our work, we keep making S P A C E. Boring or depressed foreigners aside, we’re looking for the people who are looking for the new. That’s it. That’s the whole thing. It always was, I just didn’t know it.

For the very curious

More about this project is at our newly updated crowdfunding page.

Here’s a link.

http://chuffed.org/project/spacethezine

Thanks.

Also, be sure to check out the work of photographer Thắng Chu at his site: www.thangchuphotos.com. Also see Instagram: @thangprofoto

Watch this space:)

Dipika

PS Reflecting on the 2020 year of change and stuff, I realize it’s time to say a thank-you. Special thanks to those who have supported S P A C E since the start. A lot of you donated anonymously to the campaign so I won’t call you out here. But you know who you are. I appreciate it. The best is yet to come, and I feel amazingly lucky to have the support from so many talented, smart and creative people in my sphere both near, and far. We are making it happen. Sharing the journey, one designful moment at a time. But you already knew I could deliver on that, and I appreciate it that you kept showing up for me, even when the showing up (for you, for me) was not easy. Thanking you. I read on a website somewhere that courage isn’t having the strength to go on. Courage is going on, even when you don’t have the strength…S P A C E was born in the waning hours of 2018. Today, it’s starting to start… naturally, a baby takes time to learn how to find its footing. #readyset #outofthecave2021

 

 

Desk Notes

Hello Seattle

Well, it’s been a while. I’m writing a letter to Seattle. Yes, I do that sometimes. Care about my cities that used to be part of my life; in some way, some important way. Sometimes. This

Design Kompany’s Kornerhaus | Salon for ‘Launch’, Photo: Victor Ng, Seattle 2008

is a picture VN took for us when he was part of our team in Seattle in 2008. It was a salon. I was eavesdropping today on a conversation in a place downtown in Ho Chi Minh City (which is lately where I’m parked), and the word ‘salon’ came up. I swore they were going to talk about hair, but nope, it was salon the way I know salons. Talking. Together. About a topic that matters to all of the people who are there. This is something I love to make space for, S P A C E was born out of those things, those conversations and myriad twists and turns that led us to the cloud to interconnect. SinceI kept moving around, meeting people everywhere, the spaces became more and more international–virtually–from about 2014 til now. I’m still engaging there, but with fewer invitations now than ever. It’s simple this way. Keep it quiet, keep it close to you, personal, and real. Reality. Sincerity. Trust.

These are the things.

Where is LT these days, I wonder? Making lovely portrait photos? I wonder how the whole group of people I knew have found their way, now. Is MA in Seattle or somewhere else now? How about MW? I wonder if she knows how much I appreciated that run to that store to buy that thing for me that time. It was lovely. [deleted]..

‘Home’ is the lead story of today’s issue of S P A C E, by the way. S P A C E | HCMC, ‘Airport.’

Here’s a link.

https://gumroad.com/designkompany#Jtdre

Thanks.

Wherever you go, there you are.

Desk Notes

Field trip to District 10

It’s a day out for me from my usual routine. Where I go, what I do, whom I meet; these things are all thrown into the air, today, as I do the thing that Situationism calls for: wander. Drift, so to speak. Going where the going takes you. Like this:

I learned some new vocabulary words yesterday: abstract, in Vietnamese. I met someone who understands what that is and that that is a thing, and she told me the word. In these ways, out and about, I pick up on things. Like where certain roads end and others begin. I start, stop, start stop, and at variegated and particular moments, pause for a while like I’m doing now, today at the cafe where the people are nice to their customers because, as I just learned, they are paid to be.

I don’t know how I feel about this. I’m having a nice conversation up until that point. ‘It’s my job.’ Okay, thanks, but it’s emotional labor and I don’t want to hold you to that. So I’ll cut it short and write a blog post about this place I’m on. It’s a new place. A place I don’t know. That’s exciting, when you’re on the road, here in Vietnam, a home away from home (Cambodia), away from home (??). The most accurate picture of home I guess for me, would be:

Drift and the Nomad was a conversation party that I had once in Copenhagen with two guys who were like, Um. Thanks but. I don’t understand this. What is the point of it?

‘Drifting doesn’t have a point, that is the point.’

‘So you came here from Cambodia?’ (them).

‘Yes.’

‘To do what?’

‘Drift.’

‘I don’t understand.’

‘That’s okay. You don’t have to.’

[Curtain]

Desk Notes

Issue #115

DK’s internet-based conversation in one of our online circles is happening, and it’s about ‘Beauty.’

In our innermost circles of S P A C E we explore together topics like: the Japanese idea of ‘shibui’; everydayness; street museums; simple materials; and, of course, the meaninglessness and absurdity as well as profundity of being-here, itself.

Desk Notes

‘Live in New York City once, but leave before it makes you hard’

I was listening to this song on a yellow radio that only had a few channels and was super staticky, in a studio in a school in Brooklyn where I was ‘living in New York City once.’ That was 1999.

I was doing some screentprinting. Weirdly, the things that I was making then, on that day, were very similar to what I’m doing today. In S P A C E. Words and images. Poetry. No screenprinting, now, but still. It’s fun to hit ‘print’ sometimes and collage a few zines.

This song came up in a conversation that is going to take shape in ‘Rapprochement.’ Which has everything to do with the things that have to do with angling yourself against your… past…

The story, ‘Rapprochement’ will be shared soon. It’s written by S P A C E contributing writer Michael Tharamangalam.

More soon.

The race is long. In the end it’s only with yourself…

Desk Notes

Good night from Ho Chi Minh City

Today has been a remarkable day. I would say more, but it’s kind of difficult to express a thing when you sense it, deeply, from somewhere that resides well outside of the realms of ‘intellectualizing.’ Verbalization. Articulation. The wordsmiths of our time are equipped with the tools of this trade, trading in ‘ideas.’ I guess I’m kind of one of those people, usually. I’m learning, though. Thanks to the place where I was when covid struck—I’m in… a different world. There are things to say and more to say after those things are said, but beyond everything that is spoken, I think, the learning is this.

Feeling.

Must say more about this. Perhaps in the new LinkedIn group, Papers | Cojournal. If you’re on that platform and you’re reading this blog from time to time and you were curious but not sure how to inquire further or, *gasp!*, take part, well. That’s there.

Disconnexion vis-a-vis Real connexion

Done. With internet. I think. For a while; I go through spells. I go offline. I turn things off. I reboot. I stop talking to people I don’t know and pretend, like I told D. today, that I’m in Sweden. Because in Sweden, you definitely don’t go around striking up random conversations with people. Haha, I see JE laughing out loud reading this if he still follows this blog, from northern Finland. [Yo, I made some amazing sandwiches yesterday. Really good. What you said stuck. I thought of you saying it. Thanks.]


What the hell am I writing about Sweden for, you ask? Well. I have to entertain myself out here in my one-year-and-counting journey of Life in Vietnam without Any Idea of When I am Leaving or to Where and When I Will See Someone Who Actually Knows Me Longer than 6 Months. Which reminds me of… Malmoe. No I did not study abroad there.

I just went there. For no reason other than a deep desire to be very far from everyone I know and to be quietly alone. Often. Daily. If I could get away without uttering a word to anyone, that would be grand altogether, like, to use a West Cork expression. Lived there. Three years. Wrote about it in The Elopement. Man. I met two Irish people here in HCMC and they were both, disappointingly, incredibly… boring. I said so, too. That’s not nice is it. But they were, though. See? This is why I need to pretend I’m in Scandinavia.

S P A C E | Malmö, ‘Vakt’

 

I took the picture above in Malmoe. It was at the harbor. I stayed there for a while, just kickin’ it. Took this shot on one of the days towards the end of my time there because… because… you know, I like to wait until I get a feeling for a place before I start photographing it. Which is why I cannot stand those instagram [deleted]… that bug… [deleted].

Timings

Of course [deleted]. And of course, therefore, I want to refrain from doing such, because, guess what? Most people have [deleted] that I am interested in. Truly. I’m so, so over [deleted]… in a country that is cold… then there was the sauna. Dead of winter. No better time.

Sweden, 2015.

Vietnam, 2020-2021-??

Had a good conversation on the pathway to places today. Now I will think it over. It’s nearing 10pm, the Western Hemisphere is going to work. And I’m going to sleep. Good night, then. Good night from Ho Chi Minh City. Where I am, currently, with, perhaps soon, perhaps later, a different iteration of things to come. Internet things. I think. With the space where we make S P A CE, namely, Atelier S P A C E. Er. Yeah. File under: Book of Feelings. Thanks very much to those in my inner circles who have helped me explore this topic. Deeply, not superficially. You know who you are.

That’s a story for another book, though. Maybe Reality & Trust. Maybe.

Let’s seeeee. ;)

Desk Notes

20 February | DK at Festival of the Photocopier

Melbourne-based Sticky Institute hosts its world-famous (amongst us who make zines, anyway) Festival of the Photocopier next week. DK will be in it! DK was there last year in the real life version, thanks to our collaboration with a Melbourne based teammate that year, Nicki Duncan. For 2021, we’ll launch a very special zine collection. This time, it’s made with those with whom I’ve worked with us closely over the last six months in 2020 project online, DK | Interactive Papers Project.

I love sharing the work they do, in forums like zine festivals. It’s fun.

Cool to be able to take part in the 2021 Festival of the Photocopier. The idea of a virtual zine fair was something that got my curiosity when I first heard they’d be doing this online. So we reached out to them, and wrote an interview-style post to share more about how that got sorted out, internally, behind the scenes. Read it here.

 

Papers >

 

S P A C E | Decolonization

I’ve seen a lot of zines, ladies and gentlemen. They’re about [deleted] and everything under the sun. For this coming festival, we’ll make a very special zine collection set,  S P A C E | Decolonization. So many things to say. Saying what we we feel. Putting those ideas, images, stories, narrations, discoveries, and what we’ve learned–together—into the 16-page PDF format that is S P A C E the zine. For those who want to know how to educate themselves on this important topic. I’m learning a hell of a lot, personally. Which is always a nice perk. Actually, you know, writing and sharing on topics like this… it’s pretty exciting.

HT AD, MT & MB

See everyone online?, at the festival…

fotp.online >

 

Desk Notes

Tết

Today was extremely quiet; except for two things. A parade. And a long period of gong going. A going gong.

Hm. It was really fascinating hearing the latter, last night, waking up to it. Yeah. Strange how a sound can take you back. I remembered Japan… about twenty years ago, when AM shuffled me out of his parents’ house at roundabout midnight, in the cold, with an air of adventurousness and conspiring together between us, to the closest temple. In order to do one thing. To hear the New Year get rung in. This was in Tokyo. Snowy. Cool. A new coat. A best friend. Warmth and comfort and a sense of beginnings. A different lifetime, a different mood, a different moment.

Now it’s Lunar New Year, or Tết, not the January 1st Western calendar year for New Year … that I got to celebrate more than once… even this year, 2021, in a fun, light way… at New Years, or, Oshogatsu, in Japan. I think we drank something kind of warm and extremely stiff. I still love that time of year, in Japan.

This time is different. I’m not having mochi and I’m not in the innermost, smallest circle of just the dearest-and-nearest to me. Not right now, I can’t be. Physically. Even emotionally. So many kinds of  borders are closed, and that’s that. Accepted it. Right. Now, with that, I get to sit still and enjoy this peace and quiet as there is no traffic. I repeat. No traffic. This, in Saigon, is bliss. So yeah. I’m just here, on my own, thinking about things, reflecting on the years and years of being with people, elsewhere, and at different times, in life.

[deleted]

[deleted]… Anyway, who really wants to go to an Indian restaurant just to be mistreated? Not me. Fact is, that’s why I skip most things.

[deleted]

And, like, also going… to the United States.

‘Microaggressions.’

What an understatement, like. Ooh, there’s my Irish accent now. West Cork, so. [deleted] These are the things. Today. For now. Happy New Year, from VN.

This post is for NM. (I’m going to re-email, since that one bounced, and I want to send you the PDF, ‘Home.’)

'S' is for Sincerity · 100 Conversations · Desk Notes · Stories

S P A C E | Exploitation + Leadership

I’m really excited to share that I’m writing a fresh whitepaper currently, on the request of someone who is an incredible thinker. And runs a magazine. A magazine I really value. Maybe it’s just a me-thinking-out-my-feelings paper, but that, to me, is where S P A C E goes fourth dimensional and gets fun.

It’s cool. It’s original and fun and I’m lucky to be invited to share my perspectives.

Lately I’ve been thinking so much about ‘work’ and the nature of work.

And leadership, too. So that’s how we reconnected, as I was asking this friend what he thought about stuff. Thanks PH.

Making S P A C E in Riga, Atelier S P A C E | Latvia, 2019

I feel like P and others in our circles in this ambient space of S P A C E are awesome to stay connected with in this vital time of needing to keep ties that matter. They really care about ideas, and not just fluff pieces or just writing what their advertisers want to read. I think. It’s not an English-language mag but I’m guessing this all because the editor is a friend, now. We ‘get’ each other. And it’s nice to have that kind of intellectual conversation with someone outside of the ‘work is all there is to life’ system of thinking that, he pointed out, is quite deeply rooted in the United States of American business culture, of which I am a product. Ahem.

(I also am learning how to discard e-ties, by the by. For example, those who act really entitled or just have boring work. Boring AF. Yeah. It’s a thing.)

 

Embracing differentness

Eight years in Asia and I’m starting to grok this: trust, and building trust, takes time, but the yields come back tenfold and you won’t even realize it until there’s that warmth in the kindness that is what my culture calls ‘return on investment.’ So transactional. So dry. So void of human feeling. Hmm. It’s all ‘work work work’ and the seeking of titles. So I changed my title on my new LinkedIn page, which I just made, and immediately reconnected with 68, so far, from around the world whose work I respect and appreciate and, stuff. I promoted myself. I’m now not just DK’s ‘creative director.’ I’m DK’s ‘CEO.’ Fair play to me.

‘Blue,’ Found Wallpaper, Atelier S P A C E | 2020

 

What kind of leader do I respect?

One who lets people become their best self, and achieve his or her or their own goals.

A real leader is hard to find. A real leader isn’t someone who gets off on power tripping or abusing workers by, for example, dumping their emotional issues onto those employees who have no choice but to listen and have to pretend to care. That’s not fair.

That’s emotional labor. Some employers just exploit like hell.

I can hear MD saying, that is what capitalism is about. I can hear AM talking about the tragedy of the commons with me like we were on a zoom chat the other day.

I can’t even begin to tell you the extent of this kind of exploiting… [deleted]… .what I see here, in Vietnam, [deleted]….. and I thought it was just all the foreign conglomerates coming in and third world country-ing it up, over here, taking advantage of people’s willingness to work unfathomable-to-wage-labor-workers-rights-aware people about how many hours they can use them. But they do it to each other, too. Even amongst so-called ‘friends,’ you see people abusing the positions of ‘higher than you on the ladder of Work.’ I see it every day. I see the way it works. Sometimes they try it on me, but it doesn’t work because I exist outside this thing. I don’t care what they think of me because I don’t have to have work here; I have the internet and all the privilege that comes with growing up in the place where I did and having the education I had and learning how to sidestep [deleted]. So yeah. Power games. All. Day. Long. [deleted]

‘Colorfull’, found imagery // Atelier S P A C E 2020

Yeesh.

Or corporate life, in the United States of America. ‘Toxic workplace,’ how many articles are there on that, now. Gossshhhhh…. so yeah, that, and quality leadership, and what that means. To me, to us in general as society. I’m writing my piece from Ho Chi Minh City, in the observational stance that I can take, from here, watching the world deal with itself and the problems elsewhere via newsfeeds that, for the sake of clarifying space for myself to write better and more, I’m going to go off of now that the US elections have passed and the inauguration happened without a disaster. [deleted]

 

 

[The rest of this and the whitepaper itself is now ready to share, in Papers.]

Curious?

Here’s a link.

Thanks.

#innovation #spacemaking #ninetypercentofitis #showingup #andbeing #mentallystable #evenifyeahiknow #theresapandemic