I don’t know. It’s a long shot. But sometimes, remarkably, I actually do meet people through Eventbrite invites on the internet. One out of a hundred people I cross paths with are ‘my’ people. I think… I think I’m back ‘on’ with making invitations to this kind of maybe-you-can-just-show-up-and-meet-me jazz. Like ‘N‘. But… simpler. Way.
HT T. Thanks for that conversation, yesterday. Maybe see you at this?
After about seven years of not doing any graphic design work-for-hire, something changed.
Someone asked me to make a thing.
I started it, and as I went, I realized, it’s time to bring this service back and offer it again, to those who might run across this site and say, ‘I like that! I want to hire these people. Who are these people, anyway? And what is S P A C E?’
Glad you asked.
We are a team of people who collaborate in the cloud: Dipika Kohli is the creative director. Akira Morita is a cofounder working on design thinking and innovation consulting. Jas Plac does our outreach and communications. And A. Spaice does research & development. These days we make a weekly e-mag, called S P A C E. it’s about design and discovery.
The people we meet in the places where we go (mostly Southeast Asia and Northern Europe, since 2014), share stories, sometimes, and when they get to a place where they feel like they’re becoming something substantial, we shape these into ‘zines.’
They’re 16 pages, each, designed to be read in a single sitting, say over coffee. At times, we make black & white issues so they’re easy on printers, so you can download, print, fold and assemble your own, by adding your own creative flair.
Got into a bit of a discussion about this with someone yesterday who is 24.
This person was highlighting to me his past work, in something that I didn’t find too terribly intriguing but he really wanted to impress me, I guess, so we watched some clips of things that he had produced. I suppose he is an event producer, but not trained or anything, just self-designed. That’s fine, of course. I’m self-designed in design, having studied civil engineering and worked in architecture and journalism. But design is something people just ask me to do.
For example, a friend from that era, VH had asked me to make a senior t-shirt, when we were in high school, because she liked my drawings and comics, and no one else was putting forward an idea, and I was the Vice President of the Student Government at that time, so we put out a call, I think? And I don’t think anyone entered. So I made it. I don’t even know what it looks like now, thinking back, but V. had liked it and was happy. I had done t-shirts for Governor’s School East for my hall, too, and before that a lot of things like program covers and posters through elementary and middle school that had won prizes and stuff, so. I guess. That it was… destiny, haha. Or just… a knack for it. And lots of attentiveness to continuing to do it, not get sidetracked by other things, just doing the drawings when I felt like it. Helped that this was in an era where we didn’t have internet. Nice thinking about the senior t-shirt design, again. That was fun. I was 17.
Depth. I was talking about yesterday’s conversation and somehow got distracted thinking about being 17. It’s kind of related, though, right? I mean, you get good when you practice, but you have to have some kind of latent talent to start getting good, too. And encouragement. Fact. In my case yesterday, I think skipping over ‘talent’ and ‘practice’ and ‘encouragement’ was taken for granted by this young person who saw $$$ ‘I got paid for this’ $$$ as an indication of its having had value.
Not to me.
The thing I saw was just… well. Lacking in substance.
Happens. And more and more these days, when we have substitutes for real life in the form of video streams and chatboxes. What happened? Well, that’s out of scope, here.
My thing is, let’s bring some of the good stuff. Let’s open the doors here at DK again, and show people how they can arrive at… quality. I know how to do this. Why not share. Selectively, of course. Not for everyone.
I have a particular way of deciding if I will care about a project, which has everything to do with the attitude of the person asking me to work with him or her or them. Truth is, if I don’t see much thought in something, I have no interest whatsoever.
Most people I meet on the road I will know for less than three hours. I meet a hell of a lot of people, on the road. Yesterday, I just listened politely, but then, something happened.
Weirdly, it just did…
Sometimes this does this. I went into speechmaking mode.
Perhaps because we had a third guest, join us in the middle. Who. Was. Really. Attentive, and who had gone through my samples of drawings, and poetry and other stuff that I felt like sharing, with great admiration and accolades. Okay, it was flattering, but yeah, he really was curious about me, my work… my thinking. What I’ve been up to here in Vietnam. I have some stuff now that has Vietnamese language translations, too. So you can tell, if you’re the kind of person who can tell, that is.
Maybe there’s not one particular type; but there are a few people… one out of a hundred?, who resonate with DK’s style.
D: The other day, someone asked, What’s your TEDx talk about? I said ‘Death.’ Then he said, ‘Ooh!… Edgy.’ But it was 8 years ago
A: You are. DK is edgy
D: Well, once someone in Seattle said I was popular
A: You are not popular. You are edgy
D: How is this ‘edgy’! I don’t even a phone and I type on zoom chat to you and use email
A: That is edgy
Quality is a vector: it goes up and down
Everyone knows capitalism doesn’t care about quality (or morality, or ethics). It has one thing it cares about.
This—DK—is different. This is a place where we optimize for something else.
I call it…
The level of thinking, the level of work, the level of caring, and something that had… substance… was clear to this third person. Not my companion in the conversation, but the third person. For that guest’s benefit, despite my headache and slight cold and all-day bus ride, and variables that I don’t feel like putting down here, despite it all, there I was, launching, as I do, into… well, S P A C E.
Was kind of fun, actually. HT KEF, who would have enjoyed it, and sat back, I know, smiling knowingly, with the sharp observations of only KEF, which would go, roughly, I think, ‘Just another step in the evolution of DK.’ Since KEF and DK have been acquainted since, and were dear friends for most of the mid-1990s, I can picture it, and I can enjoy the knowing that yes, that’s it. We’re on a new trip, now. All kinds of things are starting up again. But, quietly.
Anything is possible, that was our tagline back in 2004 when we started DK in Seattle from that chic architects’ office sublet. I wonder if AH remembers it. Or EP. I wonder if JK does, or if any of our clients, guests of brown bag lunches like Dream Kitchen, or collaborators for projects who helped with illustration or photography or web dev, or friends, or guests at our parties like Sugar and Dazzle will recall it. The feeling. The feeling of going into the unknown, together, to quest what we may. In a place that goes… there.
Think Sun Ra, for example.
Think… Art, substance, magical potentially… taken together, a little spark… set against the backdrop of Debord’s Society of the Spectacle blandness… what is this? This? This is DK. This is what we do. Discover, design, and outline it: together. Quality.
For S P A C E this week, we feature a lead story called, ‘Run, Eliza.’ It was written by A. Spaice. In this issue, we illustrate it with fresh, new graphic art updates that mix from our archived images; both the original photographs and the graphic updates are by DK’ creative director, Dipika Kohli.
It’s part of a series, ‘Uncertainty.’ It’s available for members of S P A C E, only.
So far, three issues have been published in our zine series on ‘Uncertainty’. They are:
S P C | London, ‘A Walk in Regent’s Park’
S P C | Copenhagen, ‘Nearness’
And this week’s.
Science fiction. Says DK: ‘This series is turning into quite a jaunt into the perpendicular spaces that veer upwards against asymptotes, impossibly, and if you like the way this sentence is going, then you will like this week’s S P C.
‘Relational art and unexpected writing, combining now, in a fresh collection. Super nerdy. Which. Is. The. Fun part.’
Download your copy, and at the same time set up your weekly subscription, here.
TODAY WE ARE SHARING the last of the 12-week set of zines in the S P A C E | Winter 2018-19 collection, ‘A Philosophy of the Moment.’ This was created with new and different others in our digital zine project, S P A C E. The last zine in this set is S P A C E | Malmö, ‘Vakt.’
A new series, S P A C E | Spring 2019, ‘The Book of New things,’ is set to begin on 5 March. This is thanks to crowdfunding support. No ads. 100% member-supported. No endorsements, no BS. Learn more about S P A C E and how to subscribe, as well as see our schedule of upcoming issues to be co-created in S P A C E through June, at our crowdfunding page, here.
S P A C E | Malmö, ‘Vakt’
‘Trust the process’
Special thanks to Joji Minatogawa, a very creative person and an architect. I just added him to our contact page under ‘mentors,’ after clearing it first with him over the phone. I really am glad we can still call around the world and see what people are up to, and let them know that we are still here, still curious, still interested, and very much appreciative of the old conversations that went places. Because now, together, here we are. Some of us are still at it: asking the big questions. Questing one another, and the ideas that might come out for a very special, very quiet, very intimate sort of dance. Now, learning to quietly add the right bits and take out the wrong ones, until further getting that good stuff, the good stuff that’s left. Refinement. I am noticing, reading, listening, and still curious. Thanks for the conversations so far. It’s getting really good, now.
‘Design is making meaning. Art is making connexion:’ A. Spaice
Feature photo: ‘Internet I Hate You’ popup installation by Dipika Kohli, at Noir Kaffekultur in Malmoe, November 2015
DK and friends are together hosting a series of conversation salons in Kärsämäki, Finland, on the conversation topic, ‘Then & Now.’
Can we preserve an old way of life, or parts of it, as we move forward in time? How do we define ‘progress?’ What is important to keep, and how do we determine what’s okay to let go? What’s ‘culture?’ What is ‘preservation?’ What legacies do we want to leave for future generations, and what have we learned from past ones? Let’s meet. Let’s converse. When you arrive, you’ll get to know a few new and different others from this area. You’ll be able to participate in a new way of connecting that might be unlike anything else you’ve experienced. DK has been hosting conversation salons since 2006 in Seattle, bringing to the table a decade of experience in facilitating discussions that have a center, and not sides. Let’s meet, connect, and talk about ‘Then & Now.’
The venue will be Kahvila, a cafe just steps away from the local architectural gem, the Shingle Church (pictured), which as DK has learned was built in 2000 in response to the loss of an older church, using methods and materials respectful of a much earlier time. This is the beginning of a new series, ‘Hei Kesä,’ which will be held in coming weeks. These conversation salons are a hybrid of facilitation methods DK have adapted from Open Space hosting methods, years of design consulting work, and general curiosity about ways of gathering new and different perspectives.
Tickets inclusive of: 1 filled croissant + 1 tea or coffee, and 1 zine of your choice from DK’s June collection.
Atelier S P A C E is DK’s popup, zinemaking on-the-spot workshop. The idea is to gather a handful of people to meet and cocreate a short publication. A zine.
So far, DK has hosted Atelier S P A C E in: Battambang, Singapore, Penang, KL, and a few smaller cities in Malaysia. Zines from Atelier S P A C E have appeared at writers festivals in Singapore and Georgetown Penang, so far, and more appearances are set for a Finland tour in the summer.
Be a part of the international conversation.
For the full five-day programme in Bangkok, it is THB 8000.
Register by 5 March to confirm your spot. Get tickets here. ✨
A POPUP CONVERSATION salon, with snippets from our 2014-2017 highlights from the ezine, S P A C E. We will be hosting this in real life at a venue in Penang to be shared with registered guests only. Free with RSVP. To RSVP, contact DK through the form here.
THE VILLAGE is an online conversation salon. It’s by invitation. It’s for people whose paths we are crossing, and with whom we’d like to develop a continued correspondence. This time, themed around the idea of The Village. Together we will ask, in this 12-week sequence, ‘To which tribe do I belong?’
Mixing our experiences and backgrounds is the goal. Co-discovery and co-learning, through writing together in protected-page posts at this blog. You’ll meet people from other timezones, writing asynchronously in response to the weekly prompts. Prompts are sent Mondays at 7AM USEST. There is no need to be anywhere at any particular time, it’s all done by email. No video, no tests, no homework. Just… weekly prompts. Each one is designed to take less than 20 minutes.
Design Kompany is hosting an online forum in which people who don’t know one another—from around the world—are connecting and conversing, every week.
LIFE ON THE ROAD.
Digital nomad, or modern gypsy? If you found yourself, as we did, somehow on the road indefinitely and working off the internet in that magical and curious way that it has to link us with people whose paths we might not have otherwise crossed, then this is the one for you. Conversations are already underway in these protected pages on related topics, since 2014. (Ref: The Cojournal Project, The Mirror, The Forum, A New Kind of Journey, The Village).
LEARN DESIGN KOMPANY’s top 4 tools to uncover the answer to a very important question:
What will be your legacy?
Get four top tools from our toolkit, which DK’s creative directors developed in-house over more than 10 years while working with different kinds of people and engaging with their unique learning styles.
Here is what you will get. A workbook from DK with our best-of collection of 4 modules, which each give you the spreadsheets, tools, and instructions we will work through together. You’ll be able to apply what you learn right away to manage and direct your career, make better-informed decisions, and look forward to the next steps with confidence. This is our agenda:
Module 1. Starting & Self (as seen in Bangkok)
Module 2. Finding Flow (as seen in Malmoe)
Module 3. The Chart & Choices (as seen in Siem Reap)
Module 4. The Plan
This will be in English. It is aimed at mid-career professionals. It’s for people who are interested in doing work they really care about, work that matters, work that will leave a true legacy. We’ve been working with people in Europe, N. America and Asia for 12 years, and we are ready to share the highlights of what we know works. This is a unique workshop where you can explore with others also interested in taking time to look at what work is personally important to each of us, and why. You’ll walk away with a 5-word ‘self-concept,’ and a professionally-worded summary statement. Useful for resumes, especially when looking to work abroad. This is designed and hosted by Design Kompany’s Dipika Kohli (TEDx, ‘There’s Not That Much Time Left’).
Your ticket includes lunch, tea, and snacks. Lunch will be a Khmer meal, served family-style.
ABOUT DESIGN KOMPANY. DK started in 2006 in Seattle, USA, working with discerning architects, software developers, artists, and other process-oriented people to design or redesign their brand identities (Capitol Hill Chamber, Baltic Room, NW Asian Weekly). Since arriving in Phnom Penh in 2014, DK branded NUK Cafe, and took on several ad hoc projects to get people thinking more clearly about how to clarify goals so as to optimize for the right metrics. ‘Lifehack’ is part of a fall series of workshops and programmes in S P A C E, an online community that meets regularly in destinations around Asia. Find out more about that here.
Are there ID or minimum age requirements to enter the event?
Ages 25+. Best for mid-career professionals.
What can I bring into the event?
No need to bring anything. Everything will be provided on the day.
How can I contact the organizer with any questions?
MAKE A SPACE for reflection in this relaxed, prompt-led evening workshop.
You can come just once, or you can come to all of our sessions. These will take place at a location to be shared with registered guests. The dates will be on Tuesday and Thursday evenings. It’s a modular course, with fresh prompts each time. Join us for all sessions or just a few, or just one, for the same fee.
DATES. SELF will be held in Bangkok on Tuesdays and Thursdays in late July. Rotating venues. Select your start date when you register. More by email to follow, from there.
HOST. Hosted by author Dipika Kohli, it’s a chance for you to discover, along with a small group of new and different others, just what it is that most matters to you, why, and how you can apply that right away to your next steps. ‘Choices we make, whom we choose to be with, where we opt to live and how we feel are all rather arbitrary,’ says Kohli, who has authored personal narratives with titles like The Elopement, The Dive, and Breakfast in Cambodia. (More about these is at Kismuth Books.) Dipika designed and hosted SELF for university students studying entrepreneurship, and thinking about the kind of legacy they wanted to leave, in 2014 in Palo Alto, then adapted it into a memoir-writing workshop for curious writers-in-the-making at a library in Chong Nonsi.
A NEW COLLECTION. After the conversations that came of a 2012 lecture, ‘There’s Not That Much Time Left,’ Design Kompany created online ‘rooms’ for talking together with people we didn’t know about how to leave a legacy you can feel great about. By designing the life you want. Working backwards from the picture of ‘the ending’ and figuring out how to attain that kind of a goal is, of course, the stuff of applied design.
We made a few things together with this group in real life, in virtual spaces, and in invite-only salons that helped us all talk more about ‘uncertainty.’ About not knowing what’s ahead, and working with that, anyway. Maybe you will be aware of the launch of DK’s set of writings and recordings, The Art of Not Knowing, (which I’ll refer to as AONK), because of those inner circle conversations. If that’s you, this will be an event to further connect in an online reception for the launch of the collection. Learn more about AONK here.
Be part of the online conversation on 1 July when join us for S P A C E with a pass. Details to follow for those who confirm. Advance bookings only. Book here.
LISTEN TO this interview Victor Jimenez, a seasoned entrepreneur and popular podcaster, did with DK’s own Akira Morita. The two are close friends, and talk regularly across the world about topics related to performance, learning, being better, and growth.
Today in S P A C E we’ll discuss. In a parallel conversation that may also take place on this day, we’ll open the comments for the topic of, ‘What is Design Thinking,’ on the comments pages below. Possibly also on facebook, depending on interest there.
Check in on 30 May throughout the day [ICT timezone], to see what’s unfolding. #designthinking
MAKE A SPACE for reflection in this relaxed, prompt-led evening workshop.
SELF offers you a chance for you to discover, along with a small group of new and different others, a Concept of You. Built from 10 years of experience designing brand identities for curious and inquiring people in Seattle and, more recently, hosting conversation salons on a wide mix of topics to explore ways of talking together in Bangkok, Malmoe, and Phnom Penh. Walk away with a clear, three-word summary that describes with flair and accuracy Who You Really Are. ‘To thine own self, be true,’ et al. Limited seats, advance bookings only. More here.
Image: ‘Magazine pieces’ from the Distracte series by Design Kompany 2015