I’m finally going to write about what I do for work.
It’s taken me a little while to figure out what I wanted to focus on, for 2020-2025. I have this five-year plan. They always ask you that in interviews, right? Where do you see yourself in 5 years?
I just went back and thought about all those five-year milestone moments, when I’d reflect, and find out what it is that the journeys have taught me. ‘Say Hello to DK,’ ‘Experiments in N+1’, ‘Practicing the Unknown, Uncertain and Different,’ and ‘Design + Discovery’ have, so far, been five-year blocked themes.
To focus on deepening and cultivating a few choice relationships, we started the subscription service in 2019. The idea is to manage the flow of exchanges with just a very small set of people so we can deepen, and learn from, the conversations that emerge. Small circles. (No more than 4 per opening, seasonal opportunities). It’s think-y think-y but also light, and fun. Sometimes we have members-only opportunities to share about, too, like mini-teleconference calls in zoom meets, and other stuff that becomes interesting or useful to our members, a curated sharing by DK that is based on ongoing conversations.
Gain full access to DK’s protected-page posts and join our backchannel conversations. To do this, become a member. Membership is USD $10/week. This is how to sign up: Go to our crowdfunding page and select ‘Basic Membership’ for S P A C E, from the perks.
Starting next week in S P A C E, we are going to press ‘pause’ for a bit. I’ll be updating some issues like this one, Issue #83 is a re-work of an earlier one about our jaunt to the High Tatras in Slovakia. The Slovakia side of these mountains was much, much more interesting than the Poland side, gotta say. Quieter, more relaxed. I took a lot of pictures. Some of them are in this issue. And a story, too, ‘A Walk in the Sky.’
Meantime, DK is going to be doing some fundraising.
Help us continue the effort to make more and better S P A C E.
Make a donation or check out our’ perks’ at our crowdfunding page.
I don’t know. It’s a long shot. But sometimes, remarkably, I actually do meet people through Eventbrite invites on the internet. One out of a hundred people I cross paths with are ‘my’ people. I think… I think I’m back ‘on’ with making invitations to this kind of maybe-you-can-just-show-up-and-meet-me jazz. Like ‘N‘. But… simpler. Way.
HT T. Thanks for that conversation, yesterday. Maybe see you at this?
A set of 6 modules for anyone to work out their ‘brand’
About this Event
Learn our top 6 go-to resources for you to discover how to build your brand, from scratch.
In a short course that will begin on Tuesday, we will share our top 6 modules that have worked well for more than 80 small businesses and organizations whom we have worked for in Seattle, Durham NC, and Phnom Penh. DK has created brand identity designs for small and medium-sized businesses since 2006.
You’ll be able to learn, and apply right away, the lessons from our past experiences by working with these exact six tools to figure out your core story, and how you can best tell it to the world.
It’s called S P C | Sài Gòn • ‘Start with Something Simple’.
Trang Le’s story, ‘A Discovery of… Myself,’ is the lead story. It is in Vietnamese. One of the most sharply observing young people DK has met in a long time, it is a chronicling of the author’s experience slowly passing time in Đà Lạt, away from home. Two of her photographs showcasing the natural beauty in and around Đà Lạt are included, too. You’ll also find some quirky terrariums created by Dinh Ngô, who shared these images with DK for this issue after we happened to find them in real lfe. He, too, like Le, had found new ways to discover—in this case, a new creative pursuit—over the period of lockdown. Experimenting with making… terrariums led to a new outcrop of beginnings, it seems. The cover photograph and inside images give you an idea of the vibe.
Special thanks to Bích Ngọc, who translated into Vietnamese Dipika Kohli’s short dialogue, ‘Phoneless,’ about a true encounter in real life in Ho Chi Minh City with someone who, like Kohli, professed he, too, does not have a phone.
How to order..
S P C | Sài Gòn • ‘Start with Something Simple’ is ready to order.
That was cool, getting in touch and sharing, and hearing from you. Thanks! Been fun, conversing as we do, now and then, all this time.
When we met, I was in one of my many, many borrowed rooms assembling this issue of S P C, (left), which was the first of the series from Latvia, Poland, and Slovakia.
So many cool people, and connexions, and conversations happened on those roads, and I was grateful for the opportunity to get there, HT AM!, and to enjoy them. A different world now, right? Difficult to move about so freely. Guess I got lucky, going when I did.
Something told me… why not just go now ? Some timing though, really. Those were places that sort of left quite the impression. I was a little surprised with myself to prepone my trip by like a year (the writers’ residency I’ve been invited to be part of in Ventspils at the International Writers’ and Translators’ House was due to happen in November 2020). Not sure when I can get back for that, or if, so yeah. Glad to have gone and met you and others ! Lucky timing. (HT, another friend whose first initial is I…)
Who knew we would all be dealing with lockdowns in various spots around the world and a pandemic, at this time ?
I’m in Vietnam.
Currently in Vietnam..
Well, here I am, doing exactly the same work as I was when we had met. Good people are around me, here, too, and I’m lucky as heck to get to assemble new writings from their points of view, and images, too, which some have shared (like this cover!), and this time, some cool stuff: spatial organic design. I’ll put together all the credits, for sure, on the day we launch, and share more about each of our contributors, then. ;)
That’ll come out on 30 June, with the issue, ‘Start with Something Simple.’
Always happy to reconnect with you, I.
[Moving the rest of this to a protected-page.. I’ll post it tomorrow. Will send passcode then!]
After about seven years of not doing any graphic design work-for-hire, something changed.
Someone asked me to make a thing.
I started it, and as I went, I realized, it’s time to bring this service back and offer it again, to those who might run across this site and say, ‘I like that! I want to hire these people. Who are these people, anyway? And what is S P A C E?’
Glad you asked.
We are a team of people who collaborate in the cloud: Dipika Kohli is the creative director. Akira Morita is a cofounder working on design thinking and innovation consulting. Jas Plac does our outreach and communications. And A. Spaice does research & development. These days we make a weekly e-mag, called S P A C E. it’s about design and discovery.
The people we meet in the places where we go (mostly Southeast Asia and Northern Europe, since 2014), share stories, sometimes, and when they get to a place where they feel like they’re becoming something substantial, we shape these into ‘zines.’
They’re 16 pages, each, designed to be read in a single sitting, say over coffee. At times, we make black & white issues so they’re easy on printers, so you can download, print, fold and assemble your own, by adding your own creative flair.
Got into a bit of a discussion about this with someone yesterday who is 24.
This person was highlighting to me his past work, in something that I didn’t find too terribly intriguing but he really wanted to impress me, I guess, so we watched some clips of things that he had produced. I suppose he is an event producer, but not trained or anything, just self-designed. That’s fine, of course. I’m self-designed in design, having studied civil engineering and worked in architecture and journalism. But design is something people just ask me to do.
For example, a friend from that era, VH had asked me to make a senior t-shirt, when we were in high school, because she liked my drawings and comics, and no one else was putting forward an idea, and I was the Vice President of the Student Government at that time, so we put out a call, I think? And I don’t think anyone entered. So I made it. I don’t even know what it looks like now, thinking back, but V. had liked it and was happy. I had done t-shirts for Governor’s School East for my hall, too, and before that a lot of things like program covers and posters through elementary and middle school that had won prizes and stuff, so. I guess. That it was… destiny, haha. Or just… a knack for it. And lots of attentiveness to continuing to do it, not get sidetracked by other things, just doing the drawings when I felt like it. Helped that this was in an era where we didn’t have internet. Nice thinking about the senior t-shirt design, again. That was fun. I was 17.
Depth. I was talking about yesterday’s conversation and somehow got distracted thinking about being 17. It’s kind of related, though, right? I mean, you get good when you practice, but you have to have some kind of latent talent to start getting good, too. And encouragement. Fact. In my case yesterday, I think skipping over ‘talent’ and ‘practice’ and ‘encouragement’ was taken for granted by this young person who saw $$$ ‘I got paid for this’ $$$ as an indication of its having had value.
Not to me.
The thing I saw was just… well. Lacking in substance.
Happens. And more and more these days, when we have substitutes for real life in the form of video streams and chatboxes. What happened? Well, that’s out of scope, here.
My thing is, let’s bring some of the good stuff. Let’s open the doors here at DK again, and show people how they can arrive at… quality. I know how to do this. Why not share. Selectively, of course. Not for everyone.
I have a particular way of deciding if I will care about a project, which has everything to do with the attitude of the person asking me to work with him or her or them. Truth is, if I don’t see much thought in something, I have no interest whatsoever.
Most people I meet on the road I will know for less than three hours. I meet a hell of a lot of people, on the road. Yesterday, I just listened politely, but then, something happened.
Weirdly, it just did…
Sometimes this does this. I went into speechmaking mode.
Perhaps because we had a third guest, join us in the middle. Who. Was. Really. Attentive, and who had gone through my samples of drawings, and poetry and other stuff that I felt like sharing, with great admiration and accolades. Okay, it was flattering, but yeah, he really was curious about me, my work… my thinking. What I’ve been up to here in Vietnam. I have some stuff now that has Vietnamese language translations, too. So you can tell, if you’re the kind of person who can tell, that is.
Maybe there’s not one particular type; but there are a few people… one out of a hundred?, who resonate with DK’s style.
D: The other day, someone asked, What’s your TEDx talk about? I said ‘Death.’ Then he said, ‘Ooh!… Edgy.’ But it was 8 years ago
A: You are. DK is edgy
D: Well, once someone in Seattle said I was popular
A: You are not popular. You are edgy
D: How is this ‘edgy’! I don’t even a phone and I type on zoom chat to you and use email
A: That is edgy
Quality is a vector: it goes up and down
Everyone knows capitalism doesn’t care about quality (or morality, or ethics). It has one thing it cares about.
This—DK—is different. This is a place where we optimize for something else.
I call it…
The level of thinking, the level of work, the level of caring, and something that had… substance… was clear to this third person. Not my companion in the conversation, but the third person. For that guest’s benefit, despite my headache and slight cold and all-day bus ride, and variables that I don’t feel like putting down here, despite it all, there I was, launching, as I do, into… well, S P A C E.
Was kind of fun, actually. HT KEF, who would have enjoyed it, and sat back, I know, smiling knowingly, with the sharp observations of only KEF, which would go, roughly, I think, ‘Just another step in the evolution of DK.’ Since KEF and DK have been acquainted since, and were dear friends for most of the mid-1990s, I can picture it, and I can enjoy the knowing that yes, that’s it. We’re on a new trip, now. All kinds of things are starting up again. But, quietly.
Anything is possible, that was our tagline back in 2004 when we started DK in Seattle from that chic architects’ office sublet. I wonder if AH remembers it. Or EP. I wonder if JK does, or if any of our clients, guests of brown bag lunches like Dream Kitchen, or collaborators for projects who helped with illustration or photography or web dev, or friends, or guests at our parties like Sugar and Dazzle will recall it. The feeling. The feeling of going into the unknown, together, to quest what we may. In a place that goes… there.
Think Sun Ra, for example.
Think… Art, substance, magical potentially… taken together, a little spark… set against the backdrop of Debord’s Society of the Spectacle blandness… what is this? This? This is DK. This is what we do. Discover, design, and outline it: together. Quality.
This issue’s title is ‘Continuous Partial Attention,’ a term that was coined, according to Wikipedia, by Linda Stone. Special thanks to Stone for allowing DK to quote from her work on the center spread, of this zine.
Why this topic? Well! Glad you asked. As anyone who knows DK personally knows, we prefer attentiveness, intention, selectivity, and, of course, our signature personality trait: focus. Exploring deeply into this topic of ‘continuous partial attention,’ we decided to go back and pull a favorite old story from our archives to redistribute this week.
The lead story for this issue is, ‘Undefined,’ by Michael Bridgett, Jr. His work features in other issues of S P C, including Issue #46 ‘An Art of the Moment’ and many more, as he was a contributing editor and early collaborator in helping DK find its footing towards the making of more and better S P C.
Michael Bridgett, Jr.
‘I believe in the power of spontaneity and improvisation–the creation of something powerful in the moment,’ says Michael Bridgett, Jr., also known as Mike Dynamo, a multi-disciplinary artist based in Phnom Penh. ‘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
S P C | Sài Gòn • ‘Continuous Partial Attention’ is ready to share !
I’ll work on that poem, about what we said about the book you said, if you want. Plant consciousness and feelings and stuff. What was it called, again? I emailed you back today; check your filters because everything goes to filters now, seems. Anyway, thanks again, and… see you very soon, I hope, because there is more to talk about, for sure, when you are more free.
SPACEMAKING. Even in so-called ‘lockdown,’ which is really not that serious where I am, the thing that I do without really knowing how I do it somehow naturally came to *happen*. But actually, there is a method to making S P C. The zine, and the offline moment, too. It’s simple, really.
First, go and look at things. Be there. Show up. A lot. And pay attention. Next, discover. Without really meaning to, my natural inclination is to somehow find… true artists. This does not mean people who sell paintings. This does not mean people who ‘get published.’ This means people who are sensitive, thinking, and feeling. Like, very. The sincere, in other words. What I do is turning out to happen more by natural proclivity towards Spacemaking now, rather than by Atelier S P C’s version of trying to design it all in advance, is good. Feels right.
JUNE | PAPERS. In other news, DK are starting a fresh batch of Papers. Co-creating through June, in the cloud, with the very curious. So far, so good. Happy, in the cloud. (Did I invite you to apply? Maybe I did. You can still apply for the waitlist, here.)
Photography by Boss. Poetry by Dipika Kohli. They are a tag-team at DK for most of our zines from Southeast Asia 2018-2020. And one, I might add, that loves to celebrate search, query, and inquiry. In other words, asking more questions than seeking answers.
Today, we share the newest issue of our weekly zine, S P C. It is Issue #75, S P C | Bangkok, ‘The Last Copy is for Reading Here.’
Our feature artist this time is Napisa Leelasuphapong.
Her photography is on the cover, and inside pages, too.
Photography, cultural identity and S P C
About the photography: ‘It talks about the way Thai elites in the period of colonisation borrowed the Western coloniser perspective,’ explains Leelasuphapong, ‘in looking at native villagers as ‘the others’; identifying them as barbarians to negatively identify themselves as civilised persons.’
She is referring to an academic article, ‘The Other Within,’ by Thongchai Winichakul. Getting more and more curious, we reached out to the author, who helped us learn more about the idea of place vis-a-vis a nation’s identity. You can find a Q&A with Winichakul about his 1993 article ‘The Other Within’ inside this issue,
The lead story is by DK Director Dipika Kohli, and is a first-person account of the experience going to Bangkok and discovering, on the spot, ‘In the Margins.’ Ahead of the publication, the conversations on email were very interesting and fun and also made us really get focused on what S P C is, and aims to be ‘So far, S P C has been about discovery–going to the field, seeing what we find, whom we meet, and finding ways to “create aesthetic moments, together”… which just means, did something cool happen.
‘Conversations with depth, exchanges of value… it doesn’t always turn into anything—occasionally places feel uncomfortable, or unsafe, or unwelcoming!–but we can take what we feel from discovering, deeply, not trivially, and investigating in one spot for a time and turn those feelings into issues of our zine. A few favorites for me are S P C | Brooklyn, ‘Art for Art’s Sake’, which was a great co-creation, and S P C | Aarhus, ‘Janteloven’–one of the early ones. It’s still figuring itself out, of course, but more and more, it’s designed to invite and include *new* and *different* others to connect, and interconnect us, in remarkable moments.’
To be really honest, not that many people read our zine, or subscribe… we had a big idea about ‘meet the world’ in our crowdfunding campaign a few years ago, but I think… we were idealistic. That’s okay. Still managed to continue making it, and publishing every week, too. Made an instagram, some people seem to like that, instagram.com/dkompany... More to say if you want to hear more. Ask us.
S P C | Bangkok, ‘The Last Copy is for Reading Here’