New beginnings

Something I can offer anyone who comes to DK’s studios to try new things with their design and marketing is this: an open page on which to draw your own adventure.


Freedom. Of the blank page. Of the unplanned next thing. Of the box with no label. You can finally let go of all those things you think you ‘should’ be doing and show up, with us, for a great trip down the lane that has no particular label on it and isn’t going anywhere you have any idea you may wind up.

I know that’s really scary for many, many people. In fact, 99 out 100 will be like, ‘Where’s the back button?’ But: someone, one of you, out of that 100 will be saying, ‘What is that. Where can I have some of that? I need a fresh start, a new beginning. Anything… different from what I already know, have already done. Can you give me some fresh ideas, new thinking, new perspectives?’

Design Kompany started out quite ambitious and youthful, full of the excitement of possibility, when my oldest friend and I co-created Design Kompany in the 1990s and then, made it an LLC in Seattle in 2005 or 2006. It’s a little fuzzy now looking back, on all that time, since, but reflecting, as we picture the projects on the table that are queued for this time, I’m realizing there’s been a common line throughout each chapter, each place, and each set of projects. Anticipation of the possiblities. The openness to being changed by what we might discover, and co-discover. This curiosity was what we had 30 years ago—a curiosity of you, a curiosity of the world at large—and we still do.

The other 1%: The very curious

Of course. Clarity of intention is the thing that will designate your route and endpoint along that adventure.

This. This clarity-seeking. Is what we do for people. I’ve come to learn that making this particular style of space is our value. It’s not our product people come to DK for — design is easy. The listening part: that’s hard. So, if you’re looking to be understood and find an identity that expresses something very deeply that means a lot—for you, for your clients, for your readers, for your buyers—then we might be a fit for you.

Welcome, and welcome back, to Design Kompany. As the beginning of the third quarter opens, we’re conversing with a handful of new guests in the spaces of S P A C E and conversation-led brand identity design, too. I’m looking forward to all the things ahead.

DK made this brand identity design for a chamber of commerce in Seattle. Designed and led by Akira Morita / Seattle 2007

DK creates space for people to discover, connect, and relax: used to be, we’d have a project like a brand identity design, when we were in Seattle. Six years there making up the project of Design Kompany, Akira Morita and I were mostly hired by architects, people in software development, professional service small business owners, and other process-oriented business heads. It was so fun learning how to listen, gather information and express ideas through identity designs in conversation-led sessions focused on exactly one thing. Being real. I didn’t know this could return as a thing some people were looking for in 2024, but there you go. Lucky me.

A few of the identity design projects continued when we moved back to the East Coast after the stint in Seattle felt like it had come to a natural ending.

More specifically, we shifted DK to Raleigh-Durham. This was, after all, where we got started with everything and had a lot of people around us who knew us. ‘Knew’ in a different way—1990s. It was nice to see them. Reconnecting. Sharing stories, catching up.

We met new people, too. Some hired us.

Aerial Treecare rebranding by DK / Designed and led by Dipika Kohli, Durham NC 2012

After leaving for the ‘Year of Uncertainty’ project in 2013, we got to Phnom Penh in 2014. The year on the road was a set of turns and twists, highs and lows (literally sometimes, the mountains of Sikkim are quite exquisite), and then some.

DK made a series of conversations called ‘Modern Sikkim’ / Designed and led by Dipika Kohli, Gangtok, 2013



Design Kompany makes the original brand identity design for NUK Cafe / Designed and led by Dipika Kohli, Phnom Penh 2014.


While it was exciting to land a brand identity design project a few months after arriving in Phnom Penh, we knew that the idea of trying to do the same work in Cambodia would mean a lot of time spent trying to basically convince people of the value of design. That time, we felt, could be used in other ways. So DK went on hiatus, as it does, when we feel like it. I remember reading about a guy who took like a year off every 7 years to do what Mark Twain called ‘letting the tank fill up again.’ During these last 7 years, I  traveled to all the last few places on my bucket list, concluding with Finland. I also worked on S P A C E the zine.

Atelier S P A C E Finland | Sunset party at AIR Frosterus / Dipika Kohli, Karsamaki, 2018

And this one:

‘Hei Kesa’ popup at Oulu Arts Night / Designed and led by Dipika Kohli and hosted with Kahvila Tuokio, Oulu 2018

When I was finished with my bucket list I came back to Cambodia. Then there was a gig in Dalat for a week in March 2020.

The issue I made of S P A C E when I was in Dalat, on the eve of the pandemic. Photo and design by Dipika Kohli, Dalat 2020


Guess what happened, next.


I got ‘stuck’ in Vietnam for almost two years.

What did I do? Make magazines and conversation parties. Of course. And the occasional brand identity design, especially as I got to know more and more Vietnamese. This word means ‘leaf’.


Brand identity design / Led by Dipika Kohli, Ho Chi Minh City 2021

That ‘trip'(?) oftentimes took me back mentally to the 2013 project, the Year of Uncertainty.

Like then, I was winging it.

This was the first zinemaking workshop I did on the road.

DK’s workshop in Chiang Mai, Zinery! / Led by Dipika Kohli, Chiang Mai, 2014

It was in Chiang Mai. That was so fun.

Circling back, to the start of it all, I’m re-working the journey’s story that was once called The Village Report and changed around quite a lot to be… what it will be. I’ll share more through the Kismuth site, about that. Ready, set.

Always an adventure, always something new.


Feature image: A still from the film, Chocolat





One response to “New beginnings”

  1. F

    Bon voyage!

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