100 Conversations · A Philosophy of the Moment · Gallery · Ideas of Curiosity · In Việt Nam

Brand identity design for Lá

DK’s Atelier S P A C E made zines with teammates in Vietnam in real life, over a period that stretched from fall 2020 to fall 2021. During this extended period, our work for the zines took on a curious, yet highly relevant, theme. Time.

With titles like ‘A Cool Evening,’ ‘Here and Now,’ and ‘Summer Noon’, the set was moving in a particular direction. The concept was emerging, organically. Soon it was clear. We could settle on a motif. Of a leaf.

Leaf… Lá.

‘Al Fresco’ // Photo by Van Tran, June 2021

That’s how it started. Atelier S P A C E Ho Chi Minh City Fall 2020 and Fall 2021 Art Director Van Tran, who is a chef and a photographer, worked with Design Kompany’s Dipika Kohli in HCMC to make the art books, zines, and journals that he led the art direction for. Cutting, collaging, and cooking, the team made a popup restaurant series, too: ‘New Cuizines,’ along with soft paper books using dó papers for ‘The Book of Feelings’ issues of S P A C E, too. According to Wikipedia, ‘dó paper is a paper made from the inner bark of the  tree and traditionally produced in many villages in Vietnam.’ We also used packaging papers found around the day to day of our lives, collaging here and there to make books like these:

Unique and handmade: those were the aims.

Could Design Kompany brand and package it? Could DK express the feeling of meticulous and handmade, but with a subtle touch of a modern sophistication, too?

That was the design directive. And that’s how we made, together, the brand identity design for Lá.

Kohli had originally flown to Dalat to deliver an experiential workshop for a large NGO, but got stranded when the borders closed in March 2020. ‘What’s remarkable to me,’ says Kohli, ‘is that ultimately I found myself more inclined to work with the people I met on my own. Instead of networking, which had been the entire point of the retreat that brought several dozen people together thanks to EU funding, I gravitated to those I found. Much like in other countries, on other travels. I discovered people who were real, honest, intriguing, curious, and thoughtful. I found out that most people in Saigon that I would meet were “so busy, just so busy” and that they had zero interest in what I was trying to create. Why make art, they seemed to be asking. What the hell is the point. After a while, I just took to watching the street. We made ‘Street Museums,’ a special issue, in collaboration with a poet in Europe, IK. The street, for me, is where the fun is. It’s more true, more real, and delightfully more informal. Which suits me better, anyway.’

More pictures are here.

Short Courses

DK | Short Course in Brand Identity Design

Learn our top 6 go-to resources for you to discover how to build your brand, from scratch. The course takes place over 10-12 weeks, with a prompt sent on Monday at 7AM USEST each week and conversations and feedback from the facilitator Dipika Kohli each month in a personalized mini-repot.

This short course begins each quarter or twice a year, based on the conversations that emerge in S P A C E community-related works. The community decides which programs to prioritize and when to run them. Members choose the starting dates, together, and occasionally we have small circles in which peer-to-peer learning can happen as the conversations become more and more meaningful, relevant, and robust between people going through similar journeys in designing their brands for:

  • Business (Personal) / Solopreneurs
  • Artist Branding
  • Chef-owned Restaurants
  • Applications or
  • Other small-medium sized Projects

In a short course, DK’s Dipika Kohli hosts. She 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.

Application required.

Apply here: http://designkompany.com/apply

If you are selected to register, you will be able to do so here.


Ideas of Curiosity

Design Brand Identity: Short Course

Are you in transition?

Avail of DK’s short course ‘Design Brand Identity’. Six days’ daily prompts for discovering the core question: Who am I? This is for business owners. Especially those looking to re-center, whilst in a period of transition. It’s based on Dipika Kohli’s 20 years’ experience in: journalism, architecture, memoir writing, self-concept discovery and brand identity design.

Application required. Fees apply, on a sliding scale of USD 65-120. Scholarships available for candidates who fit. Be sure to tell us you’d like to be considered for a full or partial scholarship, in your application.

Apply here.

Feature photo: Bernice Melis

Desk Notes · Publisher's Diary

8 March | Short Course on Brand Identity Design

Here it is. Our do-it-yourself short-course. It’s 100% virtual, by email.

WHAT YOU’LL GET. DK’s is a classic approach to how to create a stellar brand identity design. We will give you the best tools we’ve found in our 20 years’ experience in designing brand identity for discerning, process-oriented clients. Mostly in architecture, software, and parallel fields of design. 

Classic. Stylish. Timeless. Enduring.

COURSE CONTENT. Find out how to make an impact with your visual messaging, in 2021. Spend five minutes a day on these prompts and you might just be very well on your way to answering that ultimate question, ‘Why does the work I do matter?’ Knowing how to answer this is a giant step in the brand design process.

COST. The course is USD 65..

START DATE. 8 March.

WHO IT IS FOR.  ‘Short Course in Brand Identity Design’ is best for people who are just starting out or who are looking to redirect their brand strategy for 2021. You can add your name to our list for the next start-date announcement.


More: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/dk-short-course-in-brand-identity-design-tickets-135083892559


Desk Notes

Rebranding? Start with this..

In recent days we have been asked to share more and more about our past work in branding, and brand identity design. Concept design is our specialty, but it is an abstract thing to talk about: ‘concepting.’




‘What work do you do, DK?’

A lot. Of things. But, at the center, the one thing I do well is help people discover, through conversations, who it is that they really are.


That is what I do.

I say this and then people might ask further questions. Most of the time, most of the people will ask the kinds of boring questions like:

‘But how do you make money?’


‘Where are you from?’

or worse

‘But really, where are you from?’

Yeesh. [For a primer on why that’s a bad idea, check out Taiye Selasi‘s TED talk, ‘Don’t ask me where I’m from, ask me where I’m local’]

When I see these questions coming out of people’s mouths, I basically just end the conversations and go back to typing my blogs.

(Like now).



More broad-minded people might put it like this:

‘What is your specialty?’

Fair enough. And I will be direct. I don’t have to be wishy-washy about it. I know what I do. So I  say it. I say, ‘Concepting.’ I really really don’t have to ‘sell’ this. It’s kind of like, if you don’t see the value, right away, then you’re probably not a fit, anyway, because… [deleted]… but honestly, I don’t think you will.

What’s interesting is inside you: go find that. Find it out for yourself. (HT Jiddu Krishnamurthi). In short, if someone is smart and has been in business more than five years, then they will know the value of working with someone who knows what they are doing instead of investing money and time into the relationship only to wind up with something underwhelming, at the end.


Dipika Kohli / Phnom Penh 2014


My mentor, JM, taught me this. (Thank you for hiring DK more than once, J. I appreciate that. As, I know and understand, you do, too. We have a good awareness of the qualities of each other. Cool.) Speaking of mentors, there was another one who had also been a client, too. He helped me see that you don’t want to promise something cool and then turn out crappy results. You want to deliver. He said: I like to underpromise, and overdeliver. (HT DE. I still remember when you told me that.)

So yeah. The first filter for me in assessing if I want to share more about DK is, ‘Is this person serious about their work?’ If they are keen, and curiousgenuine, and probably number one for me is if they are sincere, then sure. I’ll share the link. I always used to send it to prospective customers, because, even if they don’t want to work with me or I don’t want to work with them, perhaps they will learn something on their own.

The link is this one, a Slideshare called ‘The Brand Gap.’ I have referred more than 100 people to this link because I think they might find out something. Sometimes helping people figure things out for themselves is the best way to be of use in doing what I said I do, at the start of this post. Namely, I help people figure out who it is they really are.

A big gig.

Confused about your brand story? This might help..

Disclosure: No one is paying me to share this link.