Creativity & Innovation · Strange Geometries

Social sustainability

Since arriving in Vietnam and finding myself looking around me, mostly just people watching, for most of most days from the time I got to Saigon in September up until a few weeks ago when the city closed up for social distancing, I have been seeing people get very tired form a work culture that, I’m really dismayed to find, when I see it, all around me, obsessing about the dollar and sacrificing just about everything else towards the goal of making a few bucks. I want to make something new, next.



A social enterprise, without the BS factor that you and I both know that a lot of companies use to try to market themselves. I’m tired of seeing people I know and whose work I value being exploited and overused, and they come back, so tired, so fatigued, that the Art of everything becomes so remote, so lost, so… irrelevant… that it breaks up the feelings of wanting to keep questing, keep learning, keep inquiring, and keep making. With me. Selfishly, I want to make more art with more creative people, and that’s why I want to get started on a new venture.

Maybe something like Fare Start in Seattle, where people grow their own food, and find jobs in kitchens that employ those who need to learn new skills, and then, voila, they make a restaurant and serve people and generate income, from that. I don’t know. It’s a lot of thinking, right now, and less action. Naturally. We’re in a semi-lockdown phase, so I’ve got time to dream up a new thing. But yeah. I want to keep writing and talking more about Social Sustainability here on the blog and in real life when I can. It’s best if it’s in real life, because you know, that’s where you learn a lot from the indirect nature of how humans communicate. Let me see what I can do, meantime, though, to teach myself what this is and set up something, when I get to the next spot, here in Vietnam.

For now, this.

Snippets.

From: https://tuoitrenews.vn/news/features/20210511/burnout-workplace-stress-put-damper-on-success-in-vietnam/60852.html


 

‘One of the major reasons behind the recent state of fatigue among Vietnamese people is burnout—a condition in which a person feels exhausted and exhibits reduced productivity following prolonged stress,’ writes Tuoi Tre News in a story called, ‘Burnout, workplace stress put damper on success in Vietnam’ published on May 11, 2021.


It checks with our own observations living in Saigon during a difficult time when many young people feel the pressure to support not only their own lives in the city, but often, others back home in places far from here where money is scarce. And even more so, given the pandemic’s drastic effects on the economy worldwide.



A few notes from the article..

‘More and more patients have sought professional aid in this matter. The psychology department of the University Medical Center Ho Chi Minh City welcomes a daily average of eight to nine people from different age groups who have burnout problems. 


Where did the joy go? ‘A Vietnamese woman named M. has spent the last 20 years devoting herself to work. She moved up the ladder from a newbie staff member to manager and she currently acts as the deputy chief executive officer of a technology company. She has found herself up to her ears in work in recent years. Her work hours start at 7:00 am and she does not sign off until very late in the evening. Phone calls and messages constantly appear, keeping her absolutely occupied. Instead of bragging about the joy she has, the 45-year-old woman confessed otherwise despite her career success. “I’ve felt really tired, as if my head was stiff. I wake up every morning feeling scared for the coming day,” she said. “I’m scared of everything. I’m really down spirited. The internal conflict grows day by day.”… T.A.T. is a 26-year-old secretary working for a Japanese firm in Ho Chi Minh City. Her first days at work were a wonder, but three months into the job revealed to her that the work did not live up to her expectations. She has been under constant stress. “I feel that all of my energy is drained out the moment a new day begins,” she said. “It’s like butterflies in my stomach. My heart beats faster.”


Do you have a story to share about your own experiences of work, working a lot, working so much you don’t know what it was like to live a life where there was something besides work in it? If yes, get in touch. We’re going to curate a special exhibition of stories and images around this exact theme: Fatigue.

100 Conversations · Creativity & Innovation · Desk Notes

Brand identity design for a Seattle cafe, 2010

I want to share an early brand identity design project from our archives, this one’s from 2010.

A brand identity design project that began like this. A query came in by email. From Seattle. We had already moved to the East Coast, but barely, and this blog was optimized at the time for search for Seattle branding. This was swell before everyone in the universe had a blog or microblog, and way, wayyyy before instagram. I think MySpace was going on, back then. So if you were in Seattle or nearabouts, and seeking designers who specialized in branding, then, yeah. We popped up.

Taking the call in Durham NC, we got to talking about it. The identity, the feeling, the vibe. The concept. I park for a while on Concept, when I’m leading a project, and this one was me on the creative lead, for sure. Because of stylistics: the image, the emotion, all of that, pointed to the aesthetic of a past version of DK. One that liked to play with… paint.

I did this. I played around with paint. Brushstrokes, lettering. It was good.

Design and identity design

So what happened was that I got to the studio, of ours, in Durham, and we set thing sup a little differently. Instead of using the computers so much, we started cutting papers, collaging, I even tried a quilling technique, to see what might emerge. Play. Again, play. I see that now in all our past works.

In the end, I lettered the name of the cafe with a thick brush, going out of my usual style of using a pen, or line art, or vectors. The feeling that the cafe was going for, and this was well before it was starting, I think it was under construction when we were calling at that time, well yeah.

Anyway, it was not the usual style of DK’s (our usual style is often described as ‘clean, modern.’) It was something else. A different mood. Still, the idea of a design brief is to outline that so well that you can make it work out, even if that means researching and learning more and studying and trying things. We love trying things. So this was a chance.

I heard that the Row House Cafe has since closed, but it was an interesting challenge, for sure.

It reminds me a little bit of the time we did the brand identity for a new restaurant in Ireland, will have to fish out those files now, too, from the archives…

Creativity & Innovation · Desk Notes

Brand identity design: Capitol Hill Chamber of Commerce, circa 2006

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 included… our home offices. Pictured above, is one of them. 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.