Stories

‘Don’t just document: make art’: photographer Benjamin Nwaneampeh

One of my favorite photographers in the world agreed to talk with me about the art of making street photos, back in 2018. I loved that conversation. It was so, so fun and delightful.

S P A C E makes space for that kind of conversation–it meanders, flows, and is a sort of exchange that you wouldn’t have any way of guessing what the outcome would be, from the start. I met the artist whom I got to know over instagram then in person, then I asked if I could talk with him for a bit and maybe even record it. It was my first foray into ‘podcasting’. I didn’t get too far, to be honest. I felt less and less interested in hearing my own voice but yeah, the people that I’m lucky enough to get to meet, wherever I go in the world (or surf online) are quite fascinating, at moments like the one in this conversation you can see… how… artists… think. Wait. Think is the wrong word. Feel. [deleted]


In this frank conversation between Design Kompany’s Dipika Kohli and portrait photographer Benjamin Nwaneampeh, we talk about how to get started, the culture of wanting things *now*, equipment, style, the city, and the art of peoplewatching.

‘Forget what people are telling you what street photography *is*,’ says Nwaneampeh. ‘Just go out and take photographs. If you like your pictures, and you feel you’re maturing, you’re growing in it, then just keep doing it. Just keep shooting.’


[deleted] … and then I think… yeah. It’s mostly about that. Mostly about art, itself. Why it isn’t just documenting whatever. Why it’s about seeing. Seeing seeing. And what that means, to each of us. In conversation: that’s where you find things out. At least, that’s where I do.

This one, we recorded together.

You can listen to it.

Here’s a link.

https://soundcloud.com/designkompany/make-art-1

Thanks;)

Interviews · Stories

‘In the Margins’

DK Director Dipika Kohli & Napisa Leelasuphapong talk art, design, and curation, in light, honest and easygoing conversations at the library and garden spaces of the privately funded contemporary art space, Bangkok CityCity Gallery, Feb. 2020.  

This is an excerpt from one of our 2020 issues of S P A C E, which was called S P A C E | Bangkok, ‘The Last Copy is for Reading Here’. Find it in our online store, here.



In the Margins


Words Dipika Kohli
Editing A. Spaice
Photography Napisa Leelasuphapong

A friend of mine who studied narrative ontology once said, ‘There are two kinds of stories. Someone goes on a trip, and, a stranger comes to town.’ In Bangkok in February, I think we had both, in one sitting.

I, a stranger, came to town, but with the help of people who got me started thinking newly, we all sort of went on a new trip. Together. That is what happens, sometimes. Especially in S P A C E.


 


The setting: mid-afternoon, hopping off the MRT for Lumphini Park and strolling through the expensive-looking neighborhood to the place I had arranged to meet the team of Bangkok CityCity Gallery, which is a privately-funded contemporary art space.

It’s the kind of place you don’t really know about unless you specifically are looking, but if you go once, then you probably go reguarly, to see what’s changing. I found myself changing, on this trip. Here’s why. Professional, long-time Bangkokian curators who’ve spent their careers on the work of bringing art to the public, super cool, and I, got to chat, together, about what exactly that even means. A show called ‘The Last Copy is for Reading Here’ was about to close at the time of my visit.


‘If I don’t put myself into it,’ says Napisa Leelasuphapong, the Bookshop Library Manager, who put together the show, ‘then it’s not that interesting.’


Talking was easygoing. Simple. The mostly-empty table where we sat was by the window. A glass of water was offered. A pitcher of ice water reflected all the lights. The shadows of the decal of the title of the show fell on the surfaces, floor, edges, chairs, tables, anything, through the shift of time. An afternoon went by, like this, and I took these kinds of visual notes, while we listened to each other and asked questions that made us all think. And pause.

At these obtuse angles, I was reminded all over again of why I love relational aesthetics. Us, in the room, together. Us, with this show. The show, with us: the copy on the table, the title of this show. Shadow. Light. Exciting, just recalling it, reporting it here. (‘Last Copy’ was, curiously, the first show in the library space. Following our fun, light, and agenda-less drift of conversations, I left the last copy of DK’s limited edition set of four issues of S P A C E | Rīga, ‘Drift’ with Leelasuphapong.)

A leafy neighborhood


The gallery is in a leafy neighborhood that is quite easy to walk around in, which is nice, when you are in Bangkok. So, getting back to my just-for-this-week home, which was a 10-minute walk from there, I thought it over. Sitting on the balcony of the second-floor room, in this wooden guesthouse that is built around a giant tree in a tiny courtyard, and run by an elderly couple who gave me a semi-deal, I really went through the feelings.

What it was, was the same kind of thing that happens when you go very far from home, and come back, and look at it all, again. Sitting there, on that nice outdoor spot poking out into the limbs of this very sturdy, old, and wise tree, I again considered what was around me, relationally.

(The couple, their story about coughing and how, no, no, it’s not the virus, ‘He just went to Phuket, see, and smokes, and drank too much!’, so no need to fret about ‘coronavirus,’ as we all were calling it back then.) Did I fret? A little. Did it matter? Not that much, in the end, fortunately. Sure, I did have a slight fever and a sniffly nose, but I slept for two days and it got better. It was hot. Very.

 

Focus


If I don’t put myself into it, then it’s not that interesting, she had said. I kept going back to that. Wondered if I could talk to her some more about the show itself, and not just generally about art and curation, this time. Could we?

In Open Space, which is my favorite style of hosting dialogue roundtables, you can have ‘breakout’ spaces when you want to dive deep into a specific topic. You just arrange another time, another place, and set the theme. So we did.

This time, we talked in the garden, continuing exactly from where we’d left off. Students of design, aesthetics, and art, like us, tend to veer towards the philosophical quite naturally, I think.


‘I studied for a master’s degree in Visual Arts, major in Graphic Design in Belgium,’ Leelasuphapong explained, after first finishing a bachelor’s in industrial design, in Bangkok.

‘The class in which the teacher asked, ‘What moves you as an artist?’ that I mentioned was an optional class. Most of the students joined in the class were from [the] art department. I’m a graphic designer who’s interested in art. :).’


I could relate.

Discover the full story

Read the full story when you order the issue from our store.

Here’s a link.

http://gum.co/space-bkk-lastcopy

Thanks:)

Stories

Dear K

D: ‘これからどうなるのか、いつVNから出ることができるのかと…’

X: …

D: ‘ぐうぜん多いとよくいわれているひとですわ。’

X: ‘………’

D: ‘ですから、何とかなるでしょう。’

X: ‘なるか。’

D: [うなずきながら] ‘うん。なる、なる。 きっと何とかなる。’

'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

 

 

 

 

 

 

100 Conversations · Desk Notes · In real life · Stories

30-31 December | ‘Everyday English’ afternoon Mini-parties

Cụm từ giao tiếp hàng ngày đơn giản..

Học cùng Atelier S P A C E // TP.HCM ..

Học… Tiếng Anh..

Cụm từ giao tiếp hàng ngày đơn giản..

Xin chào ! Cùng nhau nghiên cứu hội thoại hàng ngày nhé. Trò chuyện mỗi ngày về những gì bạn muốn học! Tránh xa điện thoại của bạn và làm điều gì đó mới ..

Những câu chuyện hàng ngày về chủ đề bạn chọn ..

  • Du lịch..
  • Tiếng anh đơn giản ..
  • Kết bạn mới ..
  • Khám phá một cách suy nghĩ mới về mọi thứ ..
  • Đọc những câu chuyện đơn giản bằng tiếng Anh (có bản dịch tiếng Việt)

Hãy cùng nhau khám phá thêm về mọi thứ ..

Cool. We’re looking forward to getting to know you a little. We kept finding out about English centers and getting asked if we wanted to teach at one of them, but it’s just not our thing, teaching in that kind of way. We much prefer the kind of style of learning that begins where you feel like it, just dive in. We’re not teachers; we’re just in Vietnam because… well. Long story ! I’ll tell you, haha! –DK

Hãy gặp nhau, hãy trò chuyện, và hãy cùng nhau khám phá thêm… Chúng tôi sẽ gặp nhau tại một không gian công cộng gần studio của chúng tôi. Studio của chúng tôi là Atelier S P A C E, ở Quận 3, Trần Quang Diệu.

DK sẽ gửi cho bạn ‘S P A C E | HCMC, ‘Quarky,’ để xem qua trước buổi học đầu tiên của chúng tôi.

Book your seat..

Very limited seats. There is a fee to participate. Advance bookings only. Thanks. Here is the place to book:

https://www.eventbrite.com/e/noi-chuyen-voi-hang-xom-cua-ban-in-everyday-english-o-tickets-134256210941

Desk Notes · Innovation Consulting + Design Thinking · Stories

How design and discovery flow together

Innovation, process, and the role of ‘Discovery’

What is innovation?

I mean, for real, not just as a buzzword on a grant application or something for a CV. I mean, for real. Yes, I said that already. Realness is highly important to me, and in this era especially, so I don’ tmind underscoring it.

I didn’t know this but it was an organic process that led DK to become an innovation consulting boutique, around 2013 or so. Before that, DK was kind of hacking it as a design outfit. No one we worked with, except for our three lovely interns, that is, was formally trained in Graphic Design, yet, magically, people paid us tens of thousands of dollars to come up with smart, clean, modern and classic designs.

They trusted us to make it happen, and deliver strong results that encapsulated the essence of their ‘brand story.’

Why did we know how to do this? Why did we get commission after commission in Seattle, leading to a flourishing studio, a world-class set of people who came and went through our doors sharing their knowledge and stories as collaborators, co-creators, subcontractors, fellow designers, and more? (Realness, I bet that’s why. DK stands for meaning things that DK says it will do, or that we care about. Me, personally, I don’t make promises lightly, nor commitments, and I do what I say I will.) The whole thing was really lovely, now that I reflect, all these years later, here, from this perch on the other side of the world. It was a party, kind of.

Actually the buoyant atmosphere that you could see if you walked by our giant window during a client meeting was exactly the reason we got hired, sometimes, by neighbors who passed or saw our sign or saw that I was curating and hosting a popup art show or party. Stuff like that. Stuff that I love to do even today.

One client had said, ‘It just looks like you guys are having so much fun,’ he said. ‘I want to hire you and see what it’s about.’ This was 2006, in Seattle::

Design Kompany’s first office in Seattle, shared space with one of our our clients D+A Studio. Photos by Laura Totten, this was a setup for ‘Dazzle,’ a show of her work at our space. Great moment. Great memories. // Seattle, 2006

‘I’ll have what she’s having’..

So let me come back to innovation consultation, now, because that is what our Phnom Penh story has been about, largely, since 2014. The brand identity design we had created for NUK was the last chapter of design in that old way, in many ways it just felt like time to stop making things in the old modes since the world was quickly shifting.

Who needs ‘a logo’ in 2020?

You need clarity about who you are, and what you stand for. That hasn’t changed. And that is what we are the best at helping people figure out. ‘Who am I? Like really, for real, when I take away all the mirrors and stop listening to what society says I should be?’

Sound familiar? Well, yeah. You wouldn’t have read this far if you weren’t somehow resonating with what we are interested in: self-actualization. Not. For. Everyone.

So let me share with you something I found that has to do with ‘discovery’, and how it relates back to ‘innovation.’

Lots of people are talking about ‘innovation’ right now and I’m going to venture a guess to say the reason why is because, as some of you may know already, the way things are always done is not always the best way.

Sometimes its ineffectual but no one can really say so because of standing hierarchies or hard-baked beliefs.

Sometimes it’s just boring.

There is more to say about all of that, and part of the reason we are writing this blog now (it’s changing, this year, quite a lot) is to look, listen, share, and inform those who are interested in what discovery learning can be, how there’s an actual theory here, behind these movements here at DK and the ways we are bringing people whose paths might never have crossed to intersect, by design.

But briefly. In the moment. There is the poetic moment, of course, that is part of it, but more and more it’s becoming clear that there is way more to the picture than meets the eye, even to us. Because innovation needs to happen if we are going to solve, together, completely listening and learning from one another, to solve, I was saying, quoting and paraphrasing J. Krishnamurthi, who knew this and tried very hard to tell us all to stop being so caught up in our ways of thinking and break free of old patterns and see things fresh, every day, anew. If we can, we can hear each other. If we can do that, we can ‘solve, completely, all our problems.’

Really.

Today, an excerpt… it’s from Northeastern University’s  blog post on ‘Innovation Process’. I had reached out to the author to do a more full Q&A, but there wasn’t enough follow-through on both ends so I’ll just leave you with this. This bit is what started me off reaching out to the author to ask more…..

 

The discovery phase is the one companies should spend more time and resources on.

It’s during this phase that ideas are generated and vetted by potential users, and where teams work to discover whether they’re tackling the right problem.

“Where you have a gap right now is to do the upfront better,” Tucker Marion says. Marion directs of the Master of Science in Innovation program. “That entails giving employees the skills to better understand opportunities, to apply different methods of getting information from potential customers, and to achieve better ideas. Simply put, you want to vet more of the best ideas and kick their tires, so to speak.”

This is where ideation techniques, such as brainstorming and prototyping, can be used to a company’s advantage. Ideation—the creative process of generating new ideas—is an important part of the design thinking process, in which organizations focus on uncovering the non-obvious pain points their customers are experiencing and developing new products, services, and business models aligned to their needs.

We are encouraging firms to put early prototyping back to where it belongs: in discovery,” Marion explains. “By the end of the discovery phase, if I did my homework right, I’ve already tested early prototypes with customers and have a good idea of what my business model is. That’s going to better set me up for this development phase.”

Note: DK have no association with the university, nor are we endorsing them. 

Stories

Show & Tell

Update: Here is the recording. Check out what Michael Bridgett, Jr., our teammate in Phnom Penh, shared with the world about working with us from the very start to make S P A C E… 😉  Here’s the segment of the recording where you can hear him talk. It comes on right after Christina Hu (BooHu Press)‘s presentation… Really enjoyed learning about Christina’s zines and her passion for storytelling is so great to see. I loved ‘I can’t watch television…’ I can so relate to that, haha. All the presentations were awesome ! Thanks SF Zine Fest for including us ! –A. Spaice & the team at DK…

 

***

DK’s Phnom Penh-based collaborator, Michael Bridgett, Jr, is representing us at the SF Zine Fest ‘Show & Tell.’ It will be live-streaming. This link has more about who we’ll be talking with, on that day, as well as all the 150 exhibitors who are part of the cyberfestival.

Michael “Mike Dynamo” Bridgett is a vocalist/emcee and charismatic currently performing with live hip hop band, Hypnotic Fist Technique and 90’s cover project 99 Boyz in Phnom Penh, Cambodia. Mike also writes about media and cultural analysis for fun as well as playing and connecting over video games.

He’s been part of S P A C E ever since it started in 2017, offering incredibly insightful viewpoints and a wide-range of ideas through the years as we’ve been building the magazine concept. Together, with other close collaborators near and far.

Mike says:

‘I believe in the power of spontaneity and improvisation–the creation of something powerful in the moment. And possibly never to be seen again. It allows me to be fully present. When I perform, I draw on the energy of the crowd and the people around me, amplify it, and give that energy right back, ten-fold. It’s my superpower.

‘In my writing, I strive for honesty, speaking about things that many don’t like to talk about. I want to make people think about their assumptions, because assumptions are a direct result of not being present and not engaging with what is in front of you. Of course, sometimes I just want to riff on video games, comics, and movies I love and analyze.’

mikedynamo.wordpress.com

Below is a selection of some of his writings for S P A C E…

‘Continuous Partial Attention’

from our S P C | Saigon series, which also includes ‘Start with Something Simple’

Words Michael Bridgett, Jr.

Editing A. Spaice

Phnom Penh 

June 27, 2018 June 30, 2020

Download for free with this link.. >

For the writer, it’s been said that the best thing to do upon waking up is grab the pen—or at least the keyboard—and empty your earliest thoughts, or journal away the sins of yesterday. It’s a great method for any artist that is meant to help get to the right artistic mindset for the rest of the day. But these days, first thing I’ve been reaching for is the cell phone. 

(I have this grand compunction to know what time it is, even though I have gone out of my way to do the kind of work that is not time sensitive: I don’t have a place to report to by a certain time, nor do I have any specific deadlines I’m trying to reach.) ‘Knowing the time’ on the clock does little, yet I keep reaching for the phone as soon as I’m awake. Instead of being on ‘world time’—the intervals of reality where events happen when they happen, and people awaken, and choose to move with their needs and hearts—I find myself on ‘corporate time:’ which is time that was invented to create a schedule to move items by rail that would allow people 200 years ago to coordinate, and make a lot of money.

I like money. I just happen to also like whatever sanity I can carve out of a topsy-turvy world. I also like technology, but as much as I appreciate it and all it does for me, sometimes I have to admit that the old ways are best. That being said, as much as I respect the old ways, I also recognize that concepts like racism, xenophobia, crime, fascism, or exploitation weren’t invented by millenials a few years ago. It can be difficult to take the healthy parts of the new and leave the toxic ones behind. More to say, in a bit.

When the clock starts the day, my mind first counts the hours of sleep. Then the judge-ment of that time-and of the events of the previous night-creep in. Then I start to know when I may need to be somewhere, and what things need to be done before I get there. If there are lots of places and things, I judge again and question who truly runs my life. If there are few or no places and things, I judge again and question how lazy I am.

Tick-tock, tick-tock. There it comes: the struggle, the anxiety, and the conflict. 

Maybe we’re born with it. Maybe the system just runs on conflict. Maybe a group of shadowy elites truly got together in an opulent board room and decided that the world was just too boring on its own. Maybe some human beings are just hungry for something other than stalk or flesh, and drama is both hearty and delicious when you prepare it correctly. 

Download for free with this link.. >

WORK, LABOR

We ‘work’ when we punch our timecards. ‘Work’ is our title, not so much what we do-sitting in the corner office, or on the beach, typing a blog post, or scrolling through social feeds. There’s this thing that capitalism has done with the advent of social capital and a reliance on a ‘marketplace of ideas’ and that is turn leisure time into ‘work’ as well, or ‘labor’ more specifically. (From here, I’ll use ‘work’ to talk about effort taken exclusively to gain personal capital, and ‘labor’ as any effort that benefits any external forces.)

Because that ‘writing of blog posts and scrolling through social feeds’ is most assuredly ‘labor.’ Labor that few of us are able to turn to work and are heavily encouraged to do for free. Even encouraged to do at the expense of proper sleep and our own time use for no compensation, financial or otherwise. It’s not enough any more for us to work at a job to make people we’ll never meet rich, we’re also expected to dive into our digital realms and argue and vote and ‘like’ and create content on platforms we don’t own that act as a free backdrop to show and sell advertisement space in or around. 

So in many ways, we modern people are always working. Even when we’re making art, when we showcase it on a platform, and have it evangelized, we still end up creating value and relational currency for the owners of that platform. Social growth we create is still in position to be co-opted by powerful forces that will use what we’ve offered and transform it to their own wealth. It’s crazy. facebook did that trick we do to kids when we tell them to ‘make picking up their toys a game.’ Our facebook arguments, product research we do on amazon, videos we click ‘like’ on youtube are labor. These activities add value to the platform, value that is not shared with those of us who use it. (When they figure out how to get ads in our dreams they’ll be sure to invest. Sleeping pills and: ‘google Mattress. Sleep everywhere’.) 

Doing well comes with a need to do better. Doing nothing feels like being absolved of responsibility but I’m finding it sets me on paths chosen by much larger, capitalistic others. I now recognize how important it is to control as much of the ‘means of production’ as one can when making and sharing anything. It’s not bad for someone to make money from the work I do, but I now feel a great deal more responsibility for whom I allow to do so.  

Do I like being manipulated? I would say no… but I don’t like remembering birthdays either. Nor do I like keeping track of all my contacts, finding interesting things to read, and seeking out information on important global occurrences: apps do the invisible work that used to have to be done much more slowly and deliberately. That’s useful enough to me without even talking about the perverse pleasure I get from being seen and read and liked. Then, as a writer and artist, my own fortunes are tied up in the ecosystem too: I have to join the manipulation in order to eat. 

AWAKENING

Ever felt the phantom vibration-where your leg feels like it’s getting a vibration notification despite your phone not being in your pocket? Have you ever compulsively checked the same app over and over again despite no new notifications or information? Have you ever used the (anti)interpersonal technique of starting to look at the cellular device whenever you feel uncomfortable or exposed? That’s the sub-mind’s sub-processes hijacking your subconscious to manipulate your conscious mind to its own ends. Those ends are to compile as much of your attention as possible to the point where you also gift the system all your best ideas, contacts and even money so that it can grow in perpetuity along with containing your best years so it can keep you a customer.

One look at the device in the morning, and my spongy, half asleep brain is already basing its entire sense of balance on not just what it does see, but what it doesn’t. What posts remained liked and unliked? Who hasn’t gotten back to me yet? Or better yet, who’s already pissed at me (or still pissed, rather)?  

That same drama that the clock creates has an emotional assistant in all other notifications that light my brain up and drives me right back to the digital landscape of anxiety and struggle. I’ve barely been awake 10 seconds. –Michael Bridgett, Jr. 

S P A C E is a weekly zine. DK are intrigued about how to design the space for an aesthetic moment to happen, on the spot, with the people, objects, and places where we go, in S P A C E. This issue was edited and styled in the cloud by our team members in Phnom Penh, Vilnius and Đà Lạt. First released January 2019, and redesigned for re-issue 2020. 

Further reading..

Here are posts Mike has written for this website: https://designkompany.com/author/michael/

 

Lately…

Mike is making more stuff for his band Hypnotic Fist Technique. And check out his writing site. Also, find him on instagram: @mikedynamo.

'S' is for Sincerity · 100 Conversations · Publisher's Diary · Stories · The Muse

Dear L & C

I sent you email today; a joint email. I like a good conversation circle, as you both well know. It occurs to me: do you know each other? Probably. The town where we met each other is indeed a small one. Journeying very many miles and days since then, those moments when we met, I mean, and also, those when we connected, loosely, in the cloud, through the e-circle style I mentioned, well, those things happened, didn’t they, and here we are. I’ve been good here.

A lot of updates to share, and I’m going to look forward to it.

On the off chance you happen to get my mail (things go to filters a lot now, owing to spam bots and other ‘nefarious’ mechanisms, I thought it was funny someone put it that way… ‘nefarious’…)… So yeah.

If you get it, and if you read it in time, and if you reply, and if you see my note here, somehow, all those ‘ifs’, if they line up… then let’s do it. Start another party, in the cloud. Just us three.

I’m certain we have many, many things to discover and co-discover, from here. Check your inbox, like.

My Irish accent, um, is on these days, thanks to the writing of End of the Rainbow (Sept. 15 / Kismuth Books). Wow, long story, but yeah. West Cork, that is to say. Grand stuff, so. Mostly I just really wanna know how you’re doing but I don’t want to send more 1:N notes. Too much work, too little reward, and far less personalized. What’s the point of that? I don’t know. See you in the up, maybe, L & C?

I’ll be waiting for you, here.

DK
PS Miss you.

Stories

Issue #88

Wrapped!..

The lead story here is by Quân Nguyễn. Nguyễn writes about his time abroad Denmark, at a ‘Julefrokost’ party in Aarhus.

Anyone who has struggled with life away and the uncanny unsettled feeling that comes from returning may be able to relate to his story.

It’s called ‘Unnecessary Jackets’. Cover art by DK Creative Director Dipika Kohli.

Here is a link.

https://gumroad.com/designkompany?sort=newest#zLMCH

S P C | Hà Nội, ‘Bittersweet’

'S' is for Sincerity · Desk Notes · Experiments in Expression · Miscellany · Stories

Wine, pistachios, my balcony and Zoom

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.

 

Up

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…

Makes…

S P A C E.

HT Guests of ‘Papers‘. Thanks for being there and sharing so, so much. I appreciate it! <3

 

Stories · The Muse

Issue #77

This one is super light, and fun.

It is part of a series of new zines, coming out in June, from S P C.

This one is a chapbook, that is to say, it is Book I of a new, larger work  called Finnmark. The author of Finnmark is Dipika KohliFinnmark (Kismuth Books / 2020) is inspired by H.C. Andersen’s children’s story The Snow Queen as well as Kohli’s personal visits to Copenhagen in 2007 and 2015, and Rovaniemi in Lapland, 2018.

It is a members-only series. It is part of a set of four. All four S P C issues in the Finnmark series will be available to two sets of people. First, members of S P C. Second, guests of our June edition of ‘Papers’. For more information about Papers, go here. (Note: link will only be available for a limited time).

Join S P C + get this issue at this link…

http://gum.co/space-rovaniemi-finnmark

Thanks ;)

Experiments in Expression · Stories · The Muse

Hey Seattle, I made you a mix tape

Dear Seattle… Reading the news, thinking of you. With a long look from afar (very, very far). It’s been 2004… so, what’s that, 16 years?, since I started this studio in Seattle, out of an apartment in Capitol Hill on a laptop with my best friend, Akira Morita.

 

 

 

I decided to make you guys a mix tape. I’m not sure if the article that made me think up the idea’s worth clicking over to, but a particular paragraph was pretty much me going… “Yup…”’ Here’s the part that’s good: ‘… but Gen Xer’s — the latchkey kids of the ’80s and ’90s — are uniquely qualified for social distancing. In their youth, they spent hours alone in their rooms, watching after-school specials, doing homework, making mixtapes for their friends. To this day, they’re perfectly content holed up at home and finding ways to entertain themselves.’

For those of you who still read this blog, thanks.

made you this mix tape, ‘Dear Seattle’…

Here it is..

‘Dear Seattle’

A mix tape.. <3 dipika

 

A

 safe hands by world health organization’s dr. tedros adhanom ghebreyesus (@DrTedros)

don’t stand so close to me (the police)

look sharp ! (roxette)

posse on broadway (sir mix-a-lot)

yoshimi battles the pink robots (flaming lips)

 

B

 

ghen cô vy with English subtitles (nioeh x khắc hưng x min x erik)

play with me (taylor eigsti)

sleeping in (the postal service)

staring at the sun (simple kid)

 

A

safe hands (world health organization)

There are simple things we each must do to protect ourselves from #COVID19, including 👐 washing with🧼 & 💦 or alcohol-based rub… [Note: this is a great video to show you how to do it super correctly!] 

don’t stand so close to me

look sharp!

posse on broadway

yoshimi battles the pink robots

B

ghen cô vy

play with me

sleeping in

staring at the sun**

**Erm, and about that hat… Yup. I know Shelby NC. HT RJ and AP

Experiments in Expression · Found in the Field · Miscellany · Stories

‘A Life that Isn’t Yours’

Today we share ‘A Life that Isn’t Yours.’

Factbox

  1. Contemporary ‘New Wave’ Photo Essay
  2. Commissioned by ‘The People Who Want to Do Stuff’, a new nonprofit organization set up by the Cambodia-based collective, Artists In Residence, at Their Houses. Cost of creating this work: $4,062
  3. This series was conceived and led by A. Spaice, in collaboration with Dipika Kohli, in Phnom Penh. Find further information, below

A Life That Isn’t Yours

Photo essay by A. Spaice & DK

What a critic is saying

Critic L.O.Q. writes, ‘ALTIY is a significant and highly relevant, not to mention hugely important, if I haven’t said that already, investigation into the works of art that are made today and shared digitally and largely impersonally with equally impersonal audiences, and why that’s something to really stop and think about, anyway.’ L.O.Q. will publish the full critique in an upcoming issue of This Magazine is The Awesome, and the two schoolfriends we discovered through deep internet searches for just the right face and ‘look’ for this series, whose stage names are ‘Susan’ and ‘Carly,’ will star in a forthcoming lifestyle segment of a new BBQ reality TV show, ‘Squirt.’

All photos used with permission of their creators, over at that new website that lets you do that kind of thing. Completed January 10-February 4, 2020.

About A. Spaice

A. Spaice is an artist who works in a variety of media. By putting the viewer on the wrong track, Spaice makes works that can be seen as self-portraits. Sometimes they appear idiosyncratic and quirky, at other times, they seem typical by-products of a global superabundance and marketing.

Spaice’s artworks never show the complete structure. This results in the fact that the artist can easily imagine an own interpretation without being hindered by the historical reality. By parodying mass media by exaggerating certain formal aspects inherent to our contemporary society, they try to create works in which the actual event still has to take place or just has ended: moments evocative of atmosphere and suspense that are not part of a narrative thread. The drama unfolds elsewhere, while the build-up of tension is frozen, to become the memory of an event, that may or may not ever take place. Shapes are dissociated from their original meaning, by which the system in which they normally function is exposed. Initially unambiguous meanings are shattered and disseminate endlessly. By examining the ambiguity and origination via retakes and variations, they try to increase the dynamic between audience and author by objectifying emotions and investigating the duality that develops through different interpretations. A. Spaice currently lives and works in Phnom Penh. —Artist Biography written by 500letters.org.

Desk Notes · Experiments in Expression · Stories · WORK

NUK | Designing brand identity in Phnom Penh, 2014

Naming, brand identity design, and showing up to make space—quality space—for the process of people who want to discover somethign new, together, is what we did for NUK Cafe. This was 2014. DK had just opened up our doors in Phnom Penh for business, and this was our first gig.

Since then, five years’ experience of living and learning here in Phnom Penh has given us a chance to flex our creative and intellectual muscles. We’ve gotten into very different kinds of projects, since moving away from typical brand identity deign. Still, I think it’s important to share the jo gurney, and how we got to where we are from where we stated. This post is part of a series of updates to our portfolio.

Discovery, networking, change, and reinvention has led us through a wide set of experiences.

Journeys that, for better or worse, taught us some important lessons. I’ll just leave it at that. It’s a long story.

 

DK designs NUK. Here’s a detail of NUK specifications for usage, 2014

A new DK portfolio

Really enjoyed the NUK project.

Sharing as I go, now, since DK’s going to open again for design commissions from February 2020. That’s a lot of stuff to anticipate, for DK, but the short story is this. We’ve done things, we’ve been places. We’ve learned. We have more to do.

The work is the work, not the pretty pixels you see at the end of hte design process. If learning by doing and seeing how we get from a blank page and zero idea of what to do towards the finished things, which almost always are a 100% co-created set of designs (yes, we hand you pencils sometimes, and get to work together!), then yeah. Get in touch. This is the place to do that.

 

Being honest

We’re really only interested in working with business owners who have 5+ years’ experience. For those interested in solopreneurship or personal branding, perhaps try our 8-week workshop, The Mirror, instead of our heavy-hitting journey of brand identity design for DK (which is also waaaayyy more expensive.) It’s not for everyone. (Still, there are 1 out of every 100 people who ‘get’ us, our approach, and see that there’s value in doing it right the first time, even if that means going through the hard question-asking series of things that we will ask of our clients. Apply to be a part of DK’s brand identity design programs from February. Apply here.)

The original post about the story of how we came to make this design for a cafe  in Phnom Penh back in 2014, is below.

 

//

A throwback.

To 2014.

Phnom Penh. DK had just arrived to Cambodia.

‘Never imagined we’d stay five years:’ DK.

 

Emergence, innovation, change: Inventing as we go

Design. Making meaning out of vague and abstract collections of thought. Streamling and clarifying…

I still remember when we did this, for the NUK Cafe, which we named and branded back in 2014.

That was DK’s first gig in Cambodia.

Things have evolved for them quite a bit at NUK, I think they’ve moved on from our original design, but the ‘N’ is still there on the cups that DK’s Dipika Kohli drew.

Which is this:

Brand design for NUK Cafe // DK 2014

I really like this story. Of how you start with ‘…’ and get to this design. It’s not a straight line. The creative process moves around and changes a lot, in the middle. It’s how it goes. It’s how we learn, and how we grow, too. Since DK had been doing branding work for more than a decade, it wasn’t hard. (These days we’re not doing branding work, by the way. More consulting. More experiential programs. Like these.)

 

Flux

Breakfast in Cambodia by DK’s Dipika Kohli. See all of her books.

Of DK’s founders hitting the road in 2013, going in search of ‘I don’t know what it even is yet’, and discovering the first team in Phnom Penh to give DK an open hand to design the way we know how to design. By asking questions. Listening. Learning. Gathering. Percolating. Generally: trusting the process. Why not? It’s worked for us for so many clients in the past.

It makes me happy.

Funny, all that drawing of the ‘N’ and exploring it led to the birth of something completely different.

Things. Turn into things. Don’t they?

#trusttheprocess