S P A C E projects


ARE YOU CURIOUS about new people, do you wonder what happened to the art of conversation? Have you found yourself getting more and more disappointed that ‘conversation’ now involves texts? That email is work? That phone calls are relegated to the ancient archives, instead of being a thing that lets you have real time synchronous conversations that allow space for modulating tones, and spaces, silences, and also that thing that is so wonderful but we hear very seldom now in public spaces: laughter. What happened? S P A C E is DK’s way of trying to architect quality connexion. ‘I know that’s a big promise, but it is really cool and fun and works really well sometimes, like when we have the right groups of people,’ says DK’s Dipika Kohli. ‘By “right” I mean a very wide mix of perspectives, plus, the handful of people who show up to do the applications, who show up to be part of the real life moments, too. And when we do qualify people and they do make the time to arrive, it’s my job to make the space really engaging, comforting, welcoming, inviting, and most importantly, fun. I think it’s fun. I heard I should set up a reviews page. I guess that’s an idea.’

A few of the things we’re starting to do more of in 2018 are outlined below. We used to host quite a few parties in Seattle, where we were based for six years in the 2000s. Life got different and also more exciting when we took to the road and wound up in Phnom Penh.

Never forgot how much fun it was to bring new and different others together into rooms for fresh dialogue… still at it, even on the road.

In 2018, we’re focusing on:


Past projects

SINCE 2014, Design Kompany’s network of creative people in tech, design, and international development have been conversing and connecting through our platform, S P A C E. When we meet in real life we get to know more about one another, and discover new and different viewpoints. This is important. We need new and fresh input, original thinking, and one another in order to see with new, fresh eyes. Innovations are born this way. This is what we design S P A C E for. Making room to see something that… you don’t even know what it is yet. But the openness to the possibility of being changed by what you hear: that’s the idea. That openness is the only prerequisite for entering S P A C E.

S P A C E for real life. Sometimes we start to get talking about a particular topic, and I’ll go and do a couple of interviews with people in the world so as we can all learn more about it. Or host a conversation salon. I’ll invite experts and gather us so that we have a wide mix of perspectives on a topic we are all mutually interested in. This is done, often, using the Open Space Technologies method, which invites us to gather and discuss things that we want to spend time examining with depth, not just trivially. When we meet in person, when we exchange in real life, something cool happens. The ambient wisdom of the collective seems to seep out of the air and become part of our dialogues. That’s something you really can’t get on just internet conversation: and you lose a lot in the process of simplifying everything into lines of text (often English) and reducing emotions into emojis. That’s why I continue to host S P A C E conversation salons in real life. I like to see what you and us, what we and they, what she and them, might discover, if we show up, to try out a new way of connecting, together.

S P A C E for learning. When someone I used to know or have newly discovered can comment expertly on a topic that some of us have brought up, I like to write a Q&A interview. This works in lots of wonderful ways to open new channels of thinking by inviting fresh input into our conversation spaces in the forums for S P A C E. Not everyone is interested in continuing the dialogues that begin when we connect in real life, but a handful are, and those are the people who have been part of this project, since its inception. It’s not always easy to maintain a conversation online, but fun things happen when we have Q&A conversations to write into, and to respond to, and to ask further questions to our expert guests, and more. I used to be a journalist and my favorite interviews were with people whose work I admired; now I am continuing to discover and learn about those people and their work, just that instead of a newspaper or magazine, I’m publishing to our community, our community, that is, in S P A C E. Here are a few examples:

Plus, we share a weekly zine, in which we are putting together new interviews, articles, photo essays, and conversations that are happening right where we are. This is part of what informs the subjects of our workshops, salons & online programmes, too. More about S P A C E the zine is here.



S P A C E for play. Starting in Phnom Penh in the early part of 2015 with ‘N’ Phnom Penh: NORMALITY, DK are gathering 16 strangers in each of 16 cities for ‘a big blind date.’ This happens in real life. This is a way for us to commit to showing up and making time to get out of our comfort zone and actually ask questions and be asked questions of by people we don’t already know. Can’t google ahead of time. Won’t be able to scope out, based on social profiles, if there’s interest in meeting or not. You have to get a ticket, then you agree on a date with the others, then you come to the ‘N’ in your city. This happened in Bangkok with ‘N’ Bangkok: NOW, in London with ‘N’ London: NOTEWORTHINESS, and in Hanoi with ‘N’ Hanoi: NARRATIVE. More is being planned, but the idea is that we actually make the effort to commit to something that… you don’t even know what it is yet! Here’s where you can read more about the ongoing project: Discover ‘N,’ the big blind date for 16 strangers >

S P A C E for richness and complexity. Bored with the banal on social media, I started hosting S P A C E forums to get some of us whom I’ve met in real life and online talking together around specific topics in forums that I host. Short works of art came out of these, such as the anthology collection, The Mirror, and the poem, ‘A Song for Jean Rhys,’ which were co-created over time in the online spaces. This kind of online forum started out in 2014 as a set of email circles, then developed a little more as DK began to see the possibilities of integrating forum-comment spaces with the threads, sometimes weaving over past conversations and circling in new people at the same time, along the way, from new encounters, too. Be a part of it when you subscribe to S P A C E.


Applied philosophy, enrichment

S P A C E for you. Are you curious about what we are talking about here, all these conversation-starting modes, here in S P A C E. I’d like to offer you a chance to sample it. Just add your email here. On the following Tuesday, you’ll get the first of a four-week email sequence. It’s called ‘Falling like a leaf.’ Ready? Add your name below, and we’ll send it…