16N · A Philosophy of the Moment · In real life

S P A C E | ‘In The Third Place’

Tuesday’s issue of S P A C E, DK’s weekly e-mag, will be ‘In the Third Place.’

In which I’ll write down what we have gathered from the goal of showing up, meeting regularly, at the same place, monthly, since I got back to Cambodia in November. Some of the time, not all of the time, there is magic.

9 July | The Third Place. Max 4. Tickets >

I must have reached out to 45 people over the course of six months. Since I returned to Phnom Penh, I figured it would be a good idea to reach out and see if I could network my way to finding people who were new here, this year. Maybe new energy is just what I need, I thought, after 20 months in solitude (See my book, Solitude, Kismuth Books / 2021). So I did what I do when I show up in a new city. Networked online.

Mostly LinkedIn, this time. I have given up on twitter. My personal account was deleted years and years ago and my @designkompany one is private. I quit facebook in 2014. I lost my passwords to all the other things that used to be hip and cool and fun in 2006ish.

I do have Discord but that is just to talk to one person. Which makes sense. I have Zalo for three people. And that’s it, me and my social media ‘contacts.’ Haha. Simple is good, for me. Speaking of which, there are just four spots for each edition of The Third Place. One is mine, so I have three tickets. It’s advance bookings so I don’t have to bother with dealing with cash on the day which is awkward since I don’t have a phone to take payments, and I think that is what people do now.

THE THIRD PLACE. To be continued. We’ll try this. Meeting on the 9th of the month in  July… It’s advance bookings. Get tickets.


A Philosophy of the Moment · In Việt Nam · Short Courses

Hãy học tiếng Anh

Hãy học tiếng Anh.

Thức ăn và các cuộc trò chuyện.

‘Ăn tốt.’

‘Nói. Nói nói nói. Nói nhiều!’

Thư giãn và tận hưởng.

Với I N T E R N E T và ngoài đời. Với sự phối hợp của các đồng đội Atelier S P A C E Saigon và Atelier S P A C E Phnom Penh gồm Quân Nguyễn, và Dipika Kohli.

Đăng ký danh sách gửi thư của chúng tôi để biết thông tin về ngày tháng và mức giá:



Gallery · Ideas of Curiosity

Clear brand identity starts with articulate communication

At first, I titled this post, ‘Where are the pictures?’

But then I realized I should probably optimize it a bit more, for search. Keywords, let’s say, would be about communication, branding, and design for strongly expressing what it is you want to say to everyone about what it is you do, why you do it, and why it matters. Okay that’s probably a lot of extra stuff in addition to just plain old ‘branding’ and ‘brand identity design.’ Is it? Well, then.

Let me get to the original story. Here it is.

Design Kompany’s first office in Seattle, way back in 2006

More than a decade ago, in Seattle, when I had just set up the office for Design Kompany in my neighborhood, Capitol Hill, I met a web developer. This person was someone who had worked for a lot of companies and knew a ton about ‘search’ which I had zero clue about, in those days. I just found the scrap of paper that had the best section of the notes I took in that conversation, the one about ‘What can I do to help people find me, know about my services, and be confident that I can deliver on my promises to create designs that really work?’ The paper told me to put a lot of pictures right on the front page. That people don’t want to see ‘process’ pictures. That designers get carried away with our process and have lost touch with the reality that at the very beginning, most people will have .02 seconds to give your website, and that time will not include an in-depth interest in your creative process, no matter how thorough and cool and fun it may be.

‘The people who commission Design Kompany read, read to the end, and check links.’

For you and the people who move past .02 seconds and, say, read the blog posts, and through the end of the time they are reading everything kind of start to go, ‘Maybe these people know what they are talking about.’ (It’s this person, is the only thing I’d say to correct. It’s just one person at DK doing all the design work at the moment. Me.) I’m happy with that, it makes it clear about what you’ll get since the pictures on the front page are images that document works of mine, personally, leading, and now they are getting put there bit by bi more and more. I can do this. I’m back in the same city now that the camera is. All the projects that were worth holding on to, paper-wise, are with me, too. So it’s a good time to regroup. Honestly, I think the pictures that tell the story of Design Kompany’s work-to-date best are the ones of the hard-copies of things. Digital, while lovely in some ways, just doesn’t carry the same heft as something that gets printed.

So here I am, writing a blog post about this scrap of paper that a certain web developer’s thoughts are recorded onto. I tried to keep in touch with that person but he said some insanely offensive stuff. People around the world are going through… stuff, I guess. Stuff.

Really there was no trick to search engine optimization, in 2006. You just had to have a few things organized and it was easy as pie. That’s why so many people came to Design Kompany from the internet, back then, of course. It was easy to do it. DK was on page 1 of google search for branding and Seattle. Handy. Where I am now, and what I want to do now, however, are going to have to be set up again from scratch. Almost scratch, I suppose. Because the core service is the same. Outside of ‘branding’ and ‘brand identity design’ because I want to get back to basics. Which is this:


Designing clear, and real, communication. For people to use. Like for real. Like, as in, get to the heart and soul of what it is a group, a company or even an individual really stands for (and doesn’t).

Why is it so hard to get people to talk now in this way? To share honestly, directly, and clearly?

Why are we getting splashed with graphics and fancy-ness that distracts from that core thing so, so many people I feel could use some time revisiting, repolishing, touching-up, and redesigning—whatever the case may be—given this soon-to-be-I-hope post-pandemic era. All the rules of the game are changing, with regards to how we meet, talk, see each other, connect, converse, and do our jobs.

But what hasn’t changed is the importance of clarifying, first to yourself, then to the world, what it is that’s your ‘why.’ And in an era of over-saturation in terms of the clutter people are getting all the time, every day, on screens 24/7, it really needs to be quite crisp. No waffling. NO waffling, ever.

But yeah. Finding that bit of paper from 2006 really made me stop and think. Why did I carry it all over the world and save it all this time? Maybe because there was some nugget of truth to it. A reminder that designers love design, and process, and creating, but that customers-to-be don’t care. At least, not at the beginning.

‘They want to see your work. See it instantly. So yeah. Where are the pictures?’

Design Kompany’s portfolio… the pictures… yes. Those. They’re on the homepage.