Designing the Magic Moment: Design Kompany’s ’16N’ in Phnom Penh

Update: Ten years after the first ‘N’ event in Phnom Penh, I’m considering trying another one. The project is a series. The idea is, sixteen people get together with others who are also interested in showing up for what some people have described as ‘a big blind date.’ This is the overview page about it. Why did I make ‘N’? I kept meeting people, really intriguing people, but trying to schedule time to get together, even one on one, was getting cumbersome. I now use Calendly, which solves this exact problem quite well, for me. But in those days, my idea was, if it’s so hard to meet 1:1, why not meet… 16:16. Could that be more simple to plan? Just get together one time with all of them. It turns out, this was a hit. People want to meet each other, but it’s hard to make the time to make it happen and all the social media we have now throws everything into bizarre levels of ‘connexion’ that, if we’re honest, really isn’t. What can we do about it? We can go to an ‘N.’




A guest post today from Sarah Rhodes. Sarah had joined us at ‘N’ Phnom Penh, and reflects on that experience. 

WHEN I FIRST moved to Siem Reap, I was attending a lot of different events to meet different people and try and find my place and friends in a new city.

It was at one of these events where I met [DK], who was hosting ‘N’, an event that sounded a bit interesting, and although we didn’t get to talk directly, it was a few days later that we ended up having a great chat watching the sunset on a rooftop in Siem Reap town.

Whether it was the first meeting or the sunset chat there was no doubt that the connection had been made, so when I was visiting Phnom Penh in April last year and it coincided with the ‘N’ event, I considered myself very fortunate.





It was during this visit that I realised the other attendees of the event had also had similar encounters with [DK], so it was no surprise that when we all arrived for this event we found that we automatically connected, as we had one main thing in common. The way the event was organised was well thought through; from the personal invitation, individually crafted official invitations, creative activities which with facilitated conversation beyond the usual ‘who are you?’ and ‘what do you do?’.

WHEN WE MET, it was like we didn’t have a long awkward get-to-know-you phase, it was easy to chat and talk about less usual things. I met many interesting people that night. I now have friendships with people in Phnom Penh from ‘N’, after all a friendship is formed by first talking with someone, and then talking with them again.

Sarah E. Rhodes (@saraherhodes)


Updated: February 2024