Gallery · Ideas of Curiosity

Clear brand identity starts with articulate communication

At first, I titled this post, ‘Where are the pictures?’

But then I realized I should probably optimize it a bit more, for search. Keywords, let’s say, would be about communication, branding, and design for strongly expressing what it is you want to say to everyone about what it is you do, why you do it, and why it matters. Okay that’s probably a lot of extra stuff in addition to just plain old ‘branding’ and ‘brand identity design.’ Is it? Well, then.

Let me get to the original story. Here it is.

Design Kompany’s first office in Seattle, way back in 2006

More than a decade ago, in Seattle, when I had just set up the office for Design Kompany in my neighborhood, Capitol Hill, I met a web developer. This person was someone who had worked for a lot of companies and knew a ton about ‘search’ which I had zero clue about, in those days. I just found the scrap of paper that had the best section of the notes I took in that conversation, the one about ‘What can I do to help people find me, know about my services, and be confident that I can deliver on my promises to create designs that really work?’ The paper told me to put a lot of pictures right on the front page. That people don’t want to see ‘process’ pictures. That designers get carried away with our process and have lost touch with the reality that at the very beginning, most people will have .02 seconds to give your website, and that time will not include an in-depth interest in your creative process, no matter how thorough and cool and fun it may be.

‘The people who commission Design Kompany read, read to the end, and check links.’

For you and the people who move past .02 seconds and, say, read the blog posts, and through the end of the time they are reading everything kind of start to go, ‘Maybe these people know what they are talking about.’ (It’s this person, is the only thing I’d say to correct. It’s just one person at DK doing all the design work at the moment. Me.) I’m happy with that, it makes it clear about what you’ll get since the pictures on the front page are images that document works of mine, personally, leading, and now they are getting put there bit by bi more and more. I can do this. I’m back in the same city now that the camera is. All the projects that were worth holding on to, paper-wise, are with me, too. So it’s a good time to regroup. Honestly, I think the pictures that tell the story of Design Kompany’s work-to-date best are the ones of the hard-copies of things. Digital, while lovely in some ways, just doesn’t carry the same heft as something that gets printed.

So here I am, writing a blog post about this scrap of paper that a certain web developer’s thoughts are recorded onto. I tried to keep in touch with that person but he said some insanely offensive stuff. People around the world are going through… stuff, I guess. Stuff.

Really there was no trick to search engine optimization, in 2006. You just had to have a few things organized and it was easy as pie. That’s why so many people came to Design Kompany from the internet, back then, of course. It was easy to do it. DK was on page 1 of google search for branding and Seattle. Handy. Where I am now, and what I want to do now, however, are going to have to be set up again from scratch. Almost scratch, I suppose. Because the core service is the same. Outside of ‘branding’ and ‘brand identity design’ because I want to get back to basics. Which is this:


Designing clear, and real, communication. For people to use. Like for real. Like, as in, get to the heart and soul of what it is a group, a company or even an individual really stands for (and doesn’t).

Why is it so hard to get people to talk now in this way? To share honestly, directly, and clearly?

Why are we getting splashed with graphics and fancy-ness that distracts from that core thing so, so many people I feel could use some time revisiting, repolishing, touching-up, and redesigning—whatever the case may be—given this soon-to-be-I-hope post-pandemic era. All the rules of the game are changing, with regards to how we meet, talk, see each other, connect, converse, and do our jobs.

But what hasn’t changed is the importance of clarifying, first to yourself, then to the world, what it is that’s your ‘why.’ And in an era of over-saturation in terms of the clutter people are getting all the time, every day, on screens 24/7, it really needs to be quite crisp. No waffling. NO waffling, ever.

But yeah. Finding that bit of paper from 2006 really made me stop and think. Why did I carry it all over the world and save it all this time? Maybe because there was some nugget of truth to it. A reminder that designers love design, and process, and creating, but that customers-to-be don’t care. At least, not at the beginning.

‘They want to see your work. See it instantly. So yeah. Where are the pictures?’

Design Kompany’s portfolio… the pictures… yes. Those. They’re on the homepage.

100 Conversations · A Philosophy of the Moment · Gallery · Ideas of Curiosity · In Việt Nam

Brand identity design for Lá

DK’s Atelier S P A C E made zines with teammates in Vietnam in real life, over a period that stretched from fall 2020 to fall 2021. During this extended period, our work for the zines took on a curious, yet highly relevant, theme. Time.

With titles like ‘A Cool Evening,’ ‘Here and Now,’ and ‘Summer Noon’, the set was moving in a particular direction. The concept was emerging, organically. Soon it was clear. We could settle on a motif. Of a leaf.

Leaf… Lá.

‘Al Fresco’ // Photo by Van Tran, June 2021

That’s how it started. Atelier S P A C E Ho Chi Minh City Fall 2020 and Fall 2021 Art Director Van Tran, who is a chef and a photographer, worked with Design Kompany’s Dipika Kohli in HCMC to make the art books, zines, and journals that he led the art direction for. Cutting, collaging, and cooking, the team made a popup restaurant series, too: ‘New Cuizines,’ along with soft paper books using dó papers for ‘The Book of Feelings’ issues of S P A C E, too. According to Wikipedia, ‘dó paper is a paper made from the inner bark of the  tree and traditionally produced in many villages in Vietnam.’ We also used packaging papers found around the day to day of our lives, collaging here and there to make books like these:

Unique and handmade: those were the aims.

Could Design Kompany brand and package it? Could DK express the feeling of meticulous and handmade, but with a subtle touch of a modern sophistication, too?

That was the design directive. And that’s how we made, together, the brand identity design for Lá.

Kohli had originally flown to Dalat to deliver an experiential workshop for a large NGO, but got stranded when the borders closed in March 2020. ‘What’s remarkable to me,’ says Kohli, ‘is that ultimately I found myself more inclined to work with the people I met on my own. Instead of networking, which had been the entire point of the retreat that brought several dozen people together thanks to EU funding, I gravitated to those I found. Much like in other countries, on other travels. I discovered people who were real, honest, intriguing, curious, and thoughtful. I found out that most people in Saigon that I would meet were “so busy, just so busy” and that they had zero interest in what I was trying to create. Why make art, they seemed to be asking. What the hell is the point. After a while, I just took to watching the street. We made ‘Street Museums,’ a special issue, in collaboration with a poet in Europe, IK. The street, for me, is where the fun is. It’s more true, more real, and delightfully more informal. Which suits me better, anyway.’

More pictures are here.

100 Conversations · A Philosophy of the Moment · Gallery

True poetry


Of light and now

Planning meeting for ‘Book of Feelings’ / Van Tran, Ho Chi Minh City, October 2021


Today, I want to share a little behind-the-scenes of the making of the issue ‘Starfish’. The words and drawings in that issue, as well as all these photos today on this post, are by Van Tran. He is Atelier S P A C E Ho Chi Minh’s art director this season, and was also our art director for Autumn 2020.

Two years in a row, we converse and connect about art, time, light and shadow, change and generations, and more things that people who have old souls enjoy especially in quiet spaces, over tea and time. This, while the leaves are falling. Did it during the Mid-Autumn festival last year when the city was free and open, and virtually (and also since lockdown lifted) here in same city, still. Watching the leaves fall. Autumn Leaves. Reminds me of a jazz thing… Hm. Will post a mixtape, soon. Hm, hm. ‘Now.’.

Ladies and gentlemen, I present S P A C E | ‘Starfish.’

It’s in Vietnamese, mostly.

See it in our store:

Download, print, fold, and add your own flair to make it a little bit your own. Like this….

Location for Project Now conversations post-lockdown in Ho Chi Minh City / Van Tran, October 2021


And on a bigger, more esoteric note, there’s the whole work of ‘why make art’ anyway. I mean, isn’t this why? To connect us? All of us, around the world, with our various upbringing and emotions and experiences and realities. What connects us? Art can. If we’re lucky. Bring us together… I feel this way. I feel… art. Not just like art like art school art but Big A “Art” art. Is what. Connects us.

(Especially in lockdowns, when we can’t see each other and connect, in person. How about that, then? Let’s keep doing this. Let’s make more.)

Who wants to try this with me, and us?

Meet us in S P A C E.

Membership details are here.

Found in the Field · Gallery · Miscellany

Lack | Thiếu

Something is missing when you have to pretend to be someone who you are not. Isn’t it true? I wonder if you, like me, feel that something is going on when we talk about ‘The Society of the Spectacle,’ (Guy Debord, et al), or the missing sense of substance that seems to be receding like galaxies pulling away from each other as we move more and more progressively towards that glam land of pretending to be so interesting.

(I blame the Millennials, of course, but that’s just me. And I know, I know. Stop blaming. Amirite? Er.) I skip those movies now because they spend tooooo much time on those ‘oh my gosh look at me having such an amazing life!,’ scenes that remind me of those tooooo long dance scenes in 80s Bollywood. Yes, I watched those. On VHS. Yes.

Anyway, what am I getting at. I want us to focus on things of substance rather than trying to get ‘likes’. I really mean this because it’s me that’s losing out, me seeing people who could be making something cool, just making something that algorithmically gets ‘liked’ or at least, becomes controversial. What is going on here? Do people not really care about something that moves us, as people, anymore? What? Or do they care as I do, but it’s harder and harder to find each other and interconnect us in moments of connexion that actually goes deeper than just, hey, look at me and my sexy tattoo. What. Who cares about your tattoo.

Something is missing when you want to gain approval through your ‘glamour labour,‘ I feel. But that’s just me. What can I say. How can I put it. Do I write ten paragraphs of impassioned speech asking people to please consider substance over form?


I’m looking for Quality, ladies and gentlemen (ref: Lila, ZAMM, et al). To be continued, when we get closer to publishing an issue of S P A C E centered all around this. One of the images in the new issue is by HCMC-based photographer Anthony Tran, whom I discovered on Unsplash. Most of these pictures below are Tran’s…

I’ll talk more soon, closer to the date of publication, about the authors of the stories to come. Including ‘Circus Girl,’ by Ho Chi Minh City based self-taught designer, Uyen Vu.


Anthony Tran


S P A C E | Glamour Labor

S P A C E is a 100% crowdfunded effort to link, and interlink, some of us who are asking questions like, ‘Waitaminut. What are we doing here, though?’ Et cetera.

Membership | Shop | Crowdfunding

100 Conversations · A Philosophy of the Moment · Gallery

Nghiện / Addiction

Nghiện / Addiction

Sources: Unsplash & Wikipedia


Một rối loạn hệ thần kinh trung ương đặc trưng bởi sự tham gia bắt buộc trong các kích thích đem lại phần thưởng bất chấp hậu quả bất lợi hành vi gây nghiện – một hành vi vừa mang lại phần thưởng vừa mang tính gia cường thuốc gây nghiện – một hành vi vừa mang lại phần thưởng vừa mang tính gia cường sự phụ thuộc – một trạng thái thích nghi liên quan đến hội chứng cai nghiện khi chấm dứt tiếp xúc nhiều lần với một kích thích (ví dụ: uống thuốc) mẫn cảm với thuốc hoặc dung nạp ngược – tác dụng leo thang của thuốc do sử dụng lặp lại với liều lượng nhất định triệu chứng cai nghiện – triệu chứng xảy ra khi ngừng sử dụng thuốc nhiều lần phụ thuộc thể chất – sự phụ thuộc liên quan đến các triệu chứng cai nghiện thể chất–xôma dai dẳng (ví dụ, mệt mỏi và run rẩy mê sảng) phụ thuộc tâm lý – sự phụ thuộc liên quan đến các triệu chứng cai nghiện cảm xúc-động lực (ví dụ, dysphoria và mất hứng thú) kích thích củng cố – các kích thích làm tăng khả năng lặp lại các hành vi được ghép nối với chúng kích thích phần thưởng – các kích thích mà não diễn giải theo bản chất là tích cực và mong muốn hoặc là thứ gì đó để tiếp cận mẫn cảm – một phản ứng khuếch đại với một kích thích do tiếp xúc nhiều lần với nó rối loạn sử dụng chất gây nghiện – một tình trạng trong đó việc sử dụng các chất dẫn đến suy yếu hoặc kiệt sức đáng kể về mặt lâm sàng và chức năng dung nạp – tác dụng giảm dần của một loại thuốc do dùng lặp lại ở một liều nhất định Nghiện là sự lặp lại liên tục của một hành vi bất chấp hậu quả xấu[5] hoặc sự rối loạn thần kinh để dẫn đến những hành vi như vậy.[6] Theo một định nghĩa khác nghiện là một rối loạn não đặc trưng bởi sự tham gia bắt buộc trong các kích thích trong hệ thống thưởng phạt của não mặc dù dẫn đến hậu quả bất lợi.[7][8][9] ] Ví dụ về nghiện các chất hóa học và hành vi bao gồm nghiện rượu, nghiện cần sa, nghiện amphetamine, nghiện cocaine, nghiện nicotine, nghiện opioid, nghiện thực phẩm, nghiện sô cô la, nghiện trò chơi điện tử, nghiện cờ bạc và nghiện tình dục. Một khác biệt quan trọng giữa nghiện ma túy và sự phụ thuộc là sự phụ thuộc thuốc là một rối loạn trong đó chấm dứt kết quả sử dụng ma túy trong tình trạng khó chịu của triệu chứng cai nghiện, có thể dẫn đến việc tái sử dụng ma tuý.[18] Nghiện có thể xảy ra trong trường hợp không có sự phụ thuộc, và sự phụ thuộc có thể xảy ra trong trường hợp không có nghiện, mặc dù cả hai thường xảy ra cùng nhau. Chất gây nghiện có thể là các chất độc thuộc bảng B của dược điển như thuốc phiện, cocain hay các chất độc khác như rượu bia, thuốc lá… Cơ thể và tâm lý người nghiện bị lệ thuộc mạnh mẽ và có hệ thống và các chất độc quen dùng. Nếu thiếu thuốc hoặc trong quá trình cai thuốc, người nghiện sẽ có trạng thái nôn nao, khó chịu, mệt mỏi, buồn bã, mất ngủ… Y học gọi đây là hội chứng cai nghiện hay trạng thái nhu cầu bệnh lý. Thói quen và các kiểu mẫu liên quan đến nghiện được đặc trưng điển hình của sự hài lòng ngay lập tức (phần thưởng ngắn hạn), cùng với các hiệu ứng có hại chậm (chi phí dài hạn).[20] Phụ thuộc sinh lý xảy ra khi cơ thể phải điều chỉnh để chất bằng cách kết hợp một chất vào chức năng hoạt động “bình thường” của nó.[21]

Addiction. A central nervous system disorder characterized by compulsive participation in rewarding stimuli despite adverse consequences addictive behavior – a behavior that is both rewarding and reinforcing narcotics – a behavior that is both rewarding and reinforcing dependence – an adaptive state associated with withdrawal syndrome upon cessation of repeated exposure to a stimulus(eg, drug intake) drug hypersensitivity or reverse tolerance – drug escalation due to repeated use of certain doses withdrawal symptoms – symptoms that occur when the drug is stopped repeatedly physical dependence – dependence associated with persistent somatic–physical withdrawal symptoms (eg, fatigue and delirium tremens) psychological dependence – dependence associated with emotional-motivational withdrawal symptoms (eg, dysphoria and loss of interest) reinforcing stimuli – stimuli that increase the likelihood of repeating behaviors paired with them reward stimuli – stimuli that the brain interprets as positive and desirable or something to be approached sensitization – an amplified response to a stimulus due to repeated exposure to it substance use disorder – a condition in which the use of substances leads to clinically and functionally significant impairment or exhaustion tolerance – the diminishing effect of a drug due to repeated administration at a given dose xts. Addiction is the continuous repetition of a behavior despite adverse consequences[5] or the neurosis that leads to such behaviour.[6] According to another definition, addiction is a brain disorder characterized by compulsive participation in stimuli in the brain’s reward and punishment system despite leading to adverse consequences.[7][8][9] Examples of chemical and behavioral addictions include alcoholism, marijuana addiction, amphetamine addiction, cocaine addiction, nicotine addiction, opioid addiction, food addiction, chocolate addiction, video game addiction, gambling addiction and sex addiction. An important difference between drug addiction and dependence is that drug dependence is a disorder in which cessation of drug use results in the discomfort of withdrawal symptoms, which can lead to relapse. drug use.[18] Addiction can occur in the absence of dependence, and dependence can occur in the absence of addiction, although the two often occur together. Addictive substances can be poisons belonging to Group B of the pharmacopoeia, such as opium, cocaine or other poisons such as alcohol, tobacco, etc. The body and psychology of addicts are strongly and systematically dependent. and familiar poisons. If the drug is lacking or in the process of quitting, the addict will have a state of hangover, irritability, fatigue, sadness, insomnia… Medicine calls this withdrawal syndrome or a state of pathological need. Habits and addiction-related patterns are typically characterized by immediate gratification (short-term rewards), along with delayed adverse effects (long-term costs).[20] Physiological dependence occurs when the body has to adjust to a substance by incorporating a substance into its “normal” functioning.[21]

‘If CEOs want to be Beauty Queens, something is definitely… off’

Source: Wikipedia


Feminism is a collection of movements aimed at defining, establishing, and defending equal political, economic, and social rights for women. ‘Through writing and feminism, I also found that if I was a little bit brave, another woman might hear me and see me and recognize that none of us are the nothing the world tries to tell us we areWithout this kind of inclusion, our feminism is nothing.’

Chủ nghĩa nữ giới hay chủ nghĩa nữ quyền, chủ nghĩa duy nữ là một tập hợp của các phong trào và ý thức hệ nhằm mục đích xác định, xây dựng và bảo vệ quyền lợi chính trị, kinh tế, văn hóa và xã hội bình đẳng cho phụ nữ. Qua viết và phong trào nữ quyền tôi cũng nhận thấy nếu tôi chỉ hơi can đảm thôi, thì một phụ nữ khác đã có thể nghe tôi, nhìn thấy tôi và nhận ra rằng không một ai trong chúng ta là đồ bỏ đi, mà đó là điều người ta cố nói Không có sự tổng hợp này, phong trào phụ nữ sẽ không là gì cả.’


‘They’re just trying to empower themselves.’
‘Erm…. I think not.’




‘Wissinger looks at Internet celebrity Kim Kardashian to define the concept of ‘glamour labour’.  Glamour labour is a phenomenon of the digital age (145); this work requires investing time and effort into the crafting of a body and self that matches the filtered and manipulated version of one’s online life. This is the new American Dream, “democratically available to all who are willing to work for it” (145). The ‘wages of glamour’ are earned by crafting a body and personality that meets prescribed standards of heteronormative femininity, however this labour is speculative and financial rewards are not guaranteed. This ‘labour theory of beauty’ leads young women to believe that hard work democratizes the potential to achieve a standard of beauty that offers social legitimacy. On platforms like IG, self-management and personal branding bifurcated: no longer just a fashion marketing strategy, it also became a framework for success. This framework is sold to the general public as a foolproof path to accumulating social and material capital, even as it disregards the myriad structural factors contributing to an individual’s success or failure.’’S_THEORY_OF_POST-FEMINIST_DISARTICULATION_INSIDE_POPULAR_CULTURE_by_Christine_Gow_MA_Fashion_Studies_BA_Hons_Fashion_Communication_a

Call for Submissions: the theme is ‘Glamour Labor’

Something to say? Comment to share? A story to submit for us to consider publishing in our 16-page e-mag S P A C E?

All welcome.

Send us things as we gear up to finish this issue, S P A C E | Hanoi, ‘Glamour Labor’.

Use the form here.