Desk Notes · Found in the Field · The Muse

Mixtape!, ‘Osmosis’

One of the more interesting parts of being in Vietnam since February, somehow getting more and more accustomed to the idea of it, is that, um, I’m starting to understand Vietnamese.

Okay, it’s cool that I got some help with that, like, real life and exchanging language and conversation in a casual, light way, but also, it’s relaxing to be able to pick up on a few lyrics for songs now. 
So when I’m out and about and I hear something that catches my ear, I ask about it. ‘What is this? I want to know!!’

Edges and reaching beyond those edges..

You start learning a new language and all kinds of things start to appear in your midst.

Slowly learning by osmosis..

And people I meet really love it when I say stuff to them like, ‘Well, I’m your neighbor,’ or ‘Did you guys meet at work?’ I think it means a lot to people when you make a basic effort, and I’m finding that I can do a lot with just a few phrases to ease more fluidly into a place that, seven years ago when I first arrived in Southeast Asia and Hanoi for the first-ever time, um, I was like, completely unaware about anything really meaningful. Now I can see even when I curate the mini-mag S P A C E for stories set here that there are things that are culturally significant and worth sharing, and other things that are just what tourists would quickly snap and leave having snapped it. you know what I mean?

There is more to say about that, see the stuff below at the end of this post about ‘decolonization.’ I mean, well, no, ask AD. I will put more together about how we can arrange that in some future conversation in S P A C E when I get to that, in early 2021, after finishing up our stories set where I am right now, which is Ho Chi Minh. Another month for Atelier S P A C E // HCMC, and then… maybe make a move to another part of the country. Or. Depends on our crowdfunding. Let’s see.

The mixtape is called…

O S M O S I S

A mixtape

4
friends of
Atelier S P A C E // HCMC

all… around… thế giới

<3
dk

 

I.

‘Đi Về Nhà’

 

JustaTee

I kind of just really adore this one. I really do. I don’t know what it is but it just makes me feel good vibes. The theme is ‘home’ and going there and going when you feel all kinds of feelings. Good ones and not so good ones, you can just ‘go home.’ It’s a nice idea….

II.

‘Vì Một Câu Nói’

Hoàng Dũng

https://www.nhaccuatui.com/bai-hat/vi-motv-cau-noi-hoang-dung-the-voice.VPj4uQ0t00eU.html

A pretty voice, I heard this and got intrigued. Especially because I could understand the line that repeated over and over again, and stuff like that. I thought about going to see this person who is going to be in HCM in concert very soon but the idea of sitting in a room with a ton of people with their smartphones out taking video doesn’t sit right with a music-lover like me. I’d much rather go to a small venue where the people who are there really want to just listen, and not get caught up in recording everything and themselves so they can tell everyone how ‘cultural’ they are. I found a new local venue that I think fits my criteria for that, and got to now a couple of kids who love jazz as much as I do, over there, a few nights ago. Well, well. If it wasn’t a pleasure getting to hear Sonny Rollins coming off strong on the very first number! Wow. Made my whole year. HT T, K, lookin’ at you.

III.

‘Kẻ Mộng Mơ’
Reddy

 

https://zingmp3.vn/bai-hat/Ke-Mong-Mo-Reddy/ZO00DD9W.html

I got to hear this one and really admired the song, the voice, the earnestness. I think there is a lot of emotion in the male vocalists I get to hear on these occasional bouts with getting to see, um. Karaoke. Even if I can’t understand everything I really love the feeling of just being swept away in someone’s heartfelt telling-it-all-and-laying-it-out-there. Up in Dalat, when I hung out on one of my last days with DSP, he told me that writing Vietnamese lyrics is really hard because of all the things that you have to pay attention to with the ups and downs of tones and stuff. I guess that’s something that people who grow up listening to English lyrics really never had to consider as a technicality to building something song-wise. You know, writing this down here makes me feel like I’m some kind of musician, or something. I’m not. I just like what Iike. Is all.

IV.

‘Hà Nội Mười Hai Mùa Hoa’

I have to put this one in, because it’s something that VT told me about. We were talking about ‘culture’ and all this kind of craic as we used to call it when I lived in Ireland (and became very much a fan of Irish musicians, songs in Irish, people from Cork and the songs they gave us, and many more stories related to stories, pints, stories, and did I say stories?) Music and stories and time together. What else is there?…. Yeah..

Anyway! Aside from this one about the seasons of Hanoi which takes you into a different kind of space, in the way it feels when you leave HCM and go to HN, perhaps, because of the abrupt formality you kind of walk into, well, yeah, aside from that, the songs above came from those, ‘What is this!!!’ kinds of questions that I put to people like bartenders, baristas, and fellow guests of whatever place I happened to land in.

Winging it, and making S P A C E..

I’m still in the city of Ho Chi Minh, still exploring and making forays hither and tither to discover, and share, what I find curious and interesting and the people whom I meet, too, to invite them to co-create with me. Always a fun task. Most people don’t want to make a commitment and that’s okay, but it’s my work to show up for the people who want me to make space for new thinking to invite itself into… well, S P A C E. Discovery and design our our themes. Let me expand a little.

ATELIER S P A C E // HCMC. Part of DK’s work is to discover and insist on making and pressing out S P A C E. I know. That’s a lot of vagueness. Still if you are familiar with DK, you know what I mean. We make S P A C E for the new and different to engage and interact with themselves, in a flat hierarchy not a Western-lens thing that tells you what to think about everything. I am working with my good friend AD in the cloud, in Papers, on a zine about ‘Decolonization’ right now so it’s on my mind, this idea. Anyway! So here I am, writing to you, the Internet, an those who read this blog, about what I found out. In case you want to know what contemporary Vietnamese choosers-of-music like to hear that isn’t that old school stuff that is like only just the old love song stuff. Besides that, what is there. That stuff makes me so sad. So I enjoy these things. One is a rap. Really fun. HT VT, QN. Fun ha.

Photo: QN, Atelier S P A C E // HCMC, December 2020
This year kinda reminds me of my life in Kyoto, years ago, when I started to study Japanese. This was my favorite part: going to independently study, by renting CDs from Tsutaya, and singing what I could at karaoke. Those were fun days, and these are, too. I’m recalling what it’s like to slowly get wind of things, by osmosis. You learn. That way. A lot. Loving that the words I know keep showing up, words about ‘home’, and ‘us’, and ‘dream’, and ‘together’, and ‘happiness’, and stuff like that, I am happy when I can ask what a thing means and understand what is written down. Coolio.

Get involved.

If you are in HCM, check out these opportunities.

100 Conversations · Desk Notes · In real life · Stories

30-31 December | ‘Everyday English’ afternoon Mini-parties

Cụm từ giao tiếp hàng ngày đơn giản..

Học cùng Atelier S P A C E // TP.HCM ..

Học… Tiếng Anh..

Cụm từ giao tiếp hàng ngày đơn giản..

Xin chào ! Cùng nhau nghiên cứu hội thoại hàng ngày nhé. Trò chuyện mỗi ngày về những gì bạn muốn học! Tránh xa điện thoại của bạn và làm điều gì đó mới ..

Những câu chuyện hàng ngày về chủ đề bạn chọn ..

  • Du lịch..
  • Tiếng anh đơn giản ..
  • Kết bạn mới ..
  • Khám phá một cách suy nghĩ mới về mọi thứ ..
  • Đọc những câu chuyện đơn giản bằng tiếng Anh (có bản dịch tiếng Việt)

Hãy cùng nhau khám phá thêm về mọi thứ ..

Cool. We’re looking forward to getting to know you a little. We kept finding out about English centers and getting asked if we wanted to teach at one of them, but it’s just not our thing, teaching in that kind of way. We much prefer the kind of style of learning that begins where you feel like it, just dive in. We’re not teachers; we’re just in Vietnam because… well. Long story ! I’ll tell you, haha! –DK

Hãy gặp nhau, hãy trò chuyện, và hãy cùng nhau khám phá thêm… Chúng tôi sẽ gặp nhau tại một không gian công cộng gần studio của chúng tôi. Studio của chúng tôi là Atelier S P A C E, ở Quận 3, Trần Quang Diệu.

DK sẽ gửi cho bạn ‘S P A C E | HCMC, ‘Quarky,’ để xem qua trước buổi học đầu tiên của chúng tôi.

Book your seat..

Very limited seats. There is a fee to participate. Advance bookings only. Thanks. Here is the place to book:

https://www.eventbrite.com/e/noi-chuyen-voi-hang-xom-cua-ban-in-everyday-english-o-tickets-134256210941

'S' is for Sincerity · A Philosophy of the Moment · Desk Notes · Found in the Field

‘Cá nằm trên thớt’

So many things are happening simultaneously that it’s hard to feel the feelings, see the things that need to be seen, and make the decisions, or watch them happen.

So I understand, from ambiently and osmosis-ically?, I like making up words sometimes, haha, so I understand from being here and observing, day after day, morning after morning, the churn and whirr of the routines in this neighborhood. District 3, in HCMC. I’m in Vietnam. This is turning into the [deleted]. But many, I’m sure, are doing this same thing.

Uncertainty

Not sure what’s going to come, and not being able to plan are things people are sharing with each other. I know. It’s not like I’m really eavesdropping but I can kinda tell. Maybe it’s the 27 countries I’ve visited and spent bunches of time in, including the seven years and counting in Southeast Asia, to date. Um. Long story I could launch into here, but that’s not really pertinent.

Uncertainty is like… being a fish on the chopping board.

Start liking seafood and fish sauce… is what someone on the /vietnam subreddit wrote. I. Think. That’s. Good advice.

More to share, but not now. I want to give our new acquaintance time to find the way back to emailing with me about the things ahead. I am thinking about starting an inbound tourism company, too, by the way. I can. I have some ideas. I even have some osmosis-experience.

Lol. I’m just trying to cheer you up, O.

I met O. over a conversation that started with a thing about me having to fork over USD 990.

Good thing I have… a job? Wait. I don’t have one of those. I have DK. DK is where I am. Existing.

‘Cá nằm trên thớt’

We’re gonna talk about it, O. When your’e ready.

If you want.

Let’s see.

 

December | Papers

File under: serendipitious encounters

‘How wonderful that we have met with a paradox. Now we have some hope of making progress:’ N. Bohr, quantum physicist

When DK’s A. Spaice popped around in real life to the N. Bohr Institute in Copenhagen in 2015, we found out something really amazing. It started with poking around here and there. Bohr, a philosopher-scientist, had a library on that site. Of course us being us, we wandered into it. And learned that N. Bohr, ever the thinker and open to new inputs all the time (which of course was the ethos behind the institute itself, and why we were even there), had something cool going.

He had 400 people with whom he would correspond, in letters. Apparently some of them were in the archives at the NBI. DK was impressed by this and moved to try something, but with a twist: a modern update, using the technologies at hand. Also, a wider scope for corresponders. You wouldn’t have to be a scientist, or an expert. The more of a mix, the better. Also, we can manage about 1% of what Bohr could, around here, so we are limiting our correpsondence circle to a maximum of 4. In ‘Papers.’

Here’s what it is. Given today’s world of frittered and inane chatter, Bohr’s way of connecting and deepening correspondences of substance and value seemed a good method to highlight, and, to apply.

What is Papers?

An online writing-and-design-and-generally-creative circle for community. Ambient community that is. International and asynchronous: ‘Papers.’

Why?

Because we are tired of superficial, inane chatter and want some actual depth, progression and substance in our online converations. That’s why.

Four weeks of amazing online conversations with a max of 4 hosted by the unconventional and unexpected remarkable improvisationalists at DK

How does it work ?

It’s 100% email correspondence. No meetings. Fresh prompts arrive once a week and are written based on application inputs & emerging topics.

They are written personally by DK’s Dipika Kohli, who designs and hosts this jam. More about Papers is here.

What people have said, about DK’s works…

  • ‘Refreshingly honest’, guest of ‘N’ Phnom Penh, 2014
  • ‘Astonishing!’, guest of The Mirror, online workshop, 2018
  • ‘Weird and intriguing’, guest of Hello August, Phnom Penh, 2014
'S' is for Sincerity · A Philosophy of the Moment · Desk Notes · Experiments in Expression · Found in the Field · Innovation Consulting + Design Thinking

A quote from ‘Flatland’

As to the doctrine of the Circles it may be briefly summed up in a single maxim, “attend to your Configuration.” Whether political, ecclesiastical or moral, all their teaching has for its object the improvement of individual and collective Configuration*–with special reference of course to the Configuration of the Circles, to which all other objects are subordinated.” —E. Abott, Flatland

The book Flatland has been an influential work for DK since we got a copy of it in an experimental high school geometry class that was called ‘Explorations in Geometry’.

‘Learning’, et al

Real learning, what is it? Certainly it isn’t in textbooks, according to me.

To me, it starts with critical thinking. That itself has to begin with  awareness: there is something missing. And waking up to a bombshell: the moment you discover that your own perspective, based on the things you’ve been taught to believe, are not necessarily “true.”  Plain ol’ experience is staring you down saying that X thing you’ve been taught to believe is true just isn’t “true.”

So what are beliefs, then to us? What are past experiences? Enter J. Krishnamurthi.  Just google him. ‘You are the world and the world is you…’ he says…. it’s amazing and articulate and on-point, and so I listened to lots of his podcasts this year.

After all.

I’ve.

Had.

Time.

 

Waking up to new realities

So getting back to ‘waking up.’ (Did you see Waking Life?) Anyway. The things you thought were true turned out… they weren’t true. You found out one day. So then, the natural next question is. What’s real?

I started thinking about this and made posts sometimes, under the category ‘S is for Sincerity’. Meantime, thinking about what’s real. Thinking: okay. That wasn’t.

So what is?

Hm.

Dunno. But you can sense… ? Maybe… Well. Okay.

Real things.

Discerning.

Such awareness can come from things like, for example, multi-country travel, over time, or from growing up as a Third Culture Kid, or TCK. Or meeting and being open to understanding more about other perspectives, even if you never leave your own town. Books, too. Books can open worlds.

I got lucky, personally. My sophomore year of high school I applied to and got in to an experiential learning high school, the N.C. School of Science & Math. It was different from usual school. It’s had a few scandals in the years since I’ve graduated, so I wouldn’t send anyone there, to be honest, but for me, at that time, it was a huge gift from the universe to get out of a rural and provincial school with zero opportunities. One of my most amazing teachers, though, was at that place. She knew. What I was going through. It was clear and plain to her. Maybe that’s why she worked so hard on a three-page single-spaced letter of recommendation. I still remember the feeling. Someone was paying attention and wanted better for me. Someone bold, strong and caring.

I got in. I don’t know who was more happy. Me, or her. HT CB

 

New starts

You got to live at school, which was, you know, the chance to have support and encouragement, from your peers. And teachers.

[Aside: Maybe this experience was why I started making experiential learning workshops for people to explore, in snippets, what I got to, at this school, and probably more meaningfully for me, the summer before that at the Governor’s School East program in Laurinburg, NC. That was what all Govvies know it was, and what it’s too hard to put into words. But I like to create S P A C E for people who have no idea what ‘Govvies’ means to have a chance to simply feel the experience that helps us uncover who we are, without labels or agendas. There were no grades that summer. There were philosophy classes, for small groupings of us, and we sat in circles… so many things.]

Dipika Kohli / Phnom Penh 2014

Getting to go away to school was, for me, an amazing chance to learn so many things early on, and I don’t mean ‘book learning’. I mean taking risks. I got to take ‘Explorations’ as well as a few other experimental ones: something the teachers were testing for a new course in precalculus, for example, and also, the first-ever section of that school’s Japanese language program. (I went on. to study the language for the next ten years, inspired by my teacher there HT KM.)

Perhaps best of all, I also ran for and won the position to be my school’s Vice President of the Student Government Association. The newness, all around, as well as a chance to enjoy a leadership role before even graduating from high school has richly inspired me, from those years forward, in making and achieving some exciting personal goals.

In Part 2 I’ll  elaborate on the book.

Book of New Things, limited edition of 1. For M. Riga, 2019

 

Desk Notes · Innovation Consulting + Design Thinking · Stories

How design and discovery flow together

Innovation, process, and the role of ‘Discovery’

What is innovation?

I mean, for real, not just as a buzzword on a grant application or something for a CV. I mean, for real. Yes, I said that already. Realness is highly important to me, and in this era especially, so I don’ tmind underscoring it.

I didn’t know this but it was an organic process that led DK to become an innovation consulting boutique, around 2013 or so. Before that, DK was kind of hacking it as a design outfit. No one we worked with, except for our three lovely interns, that is, was formally trained in Graphic Design, yet, magically, people paid us tens of thousands of dollars to come up with smart, clean, modern and classic designs.

They trusted us to make it happen, and deliver strong results that encapsulated the essence of their ‘brand story.’

Why did we know how to do this? Why did we get commission after commission in Seattle, leading to a flourishing studio, a world-class set of people who came and went through our doors sharing their knowledge and stories as collaborators, co-creators, subcontractors, fellow designers, and more? (Realness, I bet that’s why. DK stands for meaning things that DK says it will do, or that we care about. Me, personally, I don’t make promises lightly, nor commitments, and I do what I say I will.) The whole thing was really lovely, now that I reflect, all these years later, here, from this perch on the other side of the world. It was a party, kind of.

Actually the buoyant atmosphere that you could see if you walked by our giant window during a client meeting was exactly the reason we got hired, sometimes, by neighbors who passed or saw our sign or saw that I was curating and hosting a popup art show or party. Stuff like that. Stuff that I love to do even today.

One client had said, ‘It just looks like you guys are having so much fun,’ he said. ‘I want to hire you and see what it’s about.’ This was 2006, in Seattle::

Design Kompany’s first office in Seattle, shared space with one of our our clients D+A Studio. Photos by Laura Totten, this was a setup for ‘Dazzle,’ a show of her work at our space. Great moment. Great memories. // Seattle, 2006

‘I’ll have what she’s having’..

So let me come back to innovation consultation, now, because that is what our Phnom Penh story has been about, largely, since 2014. The brand identity design we had created for NUK was the last chapter of design in that old way, in many ways it just felt like time to stop making things in the old modes since the world was quickly shifting.

Who needs ‘a logo’ in 2020?

You need clarity about who you are, and what you stand for. That hasn’t changed. And that is what we are the best at helping people figure out. ‘Who am I? Like really, for real, when I take away all the mirrors and stop listening to what society says I should be?’

Sound familiar? Well, yeah. You wouldn’t have read this far if you weren’t somehow resonating with what we are interested in: self-actualization. Not. For. Everyone.

So let me share with you something I found that has to do with ‘discovery’, and how it relates back to ‘innovation.’

Lots of people are talking about ‘innovation’ right now and I’m going to venture a guess to say the reason why is because, as some of you may know already, the way things are always done is not always the best way.

Sometimes its ineffectual but no one can really say so because of standing hierarchies or hard-baked beliefs.

Sometimes it’s just boring.

There is more to say about all of that, and part of the reason we are writing this blog now (it’s changing, this year, quite a lot) is to look, listen, share, and inform those who are interested in what discovery learning can be, how there’s an actual theory here, behind these movements here at DK and the ways we are bringing people whose paths might never have crossed to intersect, by design.

But briefly. In the moment. There is the poetic moment, of course, that is part of it, but more and more it’s becoming clear that there is way more to the picture than meets the eye, even to us. Because innovation needs to happen if we are going to solve, together, completely listening and learning from one another, to solve, I was saying, quoting and paraphrasing J. Krishnamurthi, who knew this and tried very hard to tell us all to stop being so caught up in our ways of thinking and break free of old patterns and see things fresh, every day, anew. If we can, we can hear each other. If we can do that, we can ‘solve, completely, all our problems.’

Really.

Today, an excerpt… it’s from Northeastern University’s  blog post on ‘Innovation Process’. I had reached out to the author to do a more full Q&A, but there wasn’t enough follow-through on both ends so I’ll just leave you with this. This bit is what started me off reaching out to the author to ask more…..

 

The discovery phase is the one companies should spend more time and resources on.

It’s during this phase that ideas are generated and vetted by potential users, and where teams work to discover whether they’re tackling the right problem.

“Where you have a gap right now is to do the upfront better,” Tucker Marion says. Marion directs of the Master of Science in Innovation program. “That entails giving employees the skills to better understand opportunities, to apply different methods of getting information from potential customers, and to achieve better ideas. Simply put, you want to vet more of the best ideas and kick their tires, so to speak.”

This is where ideation techniques, such as brainstorming and prototyping, can be used to a company’s advantage. Ideation—the creative process of generating new ideas—is an important part of the design thinking process, in which organizations focus on uncovering the non-obvious pain points their customers are experiencing and developing new products, services, and business models aligned to their needs.

We are encouraging firms to put early prototyping back to where it belongs: in discovery,” Marion explains. “By the end of the discovery phase, if I did my homework right, I’ve already tested early prototypes with customers and have a good idea of what my business model is. That’s going to better set me up for this development phase.”

Note: DK have no association with the university, nor are we endorsing them. 

20 Nov | Short course, ‘Slow Moment’

This is a photographer’s journaling short course. It’s all prompts in email. It will be 100% virtual, and asynchronous. You’ll have the chance to meet new people in a forum but it’s very much about who wants to do that and there is no obligation to take part in that way. Show up if you want for yourself each week, and make time to discover what you most care about, visually, artistically and maybe even… personally. ‘Slow Moment’ was designed and delivered online as a workshop in the Summer of 2018, when DK was making Atelier S P A C E in the north of Finland and got inspired to… sit still.

Discover it.

This course is free for people who have been members S P A C E for at least six months. For nonmembers,  it’s USD 120. There is no online support or calling. You’ll get a one-page report summarizing the findings from what DK has learned, based on whatever you choose to share with us during the 12-week program.

See what making S P A C E can reveal to you about… you.

‘Thiếu’…

The value of a thing is the amount of life we are willing to trade for it.

Let’s discuss ‘lack,’ or ‘thiếu.’

But softly, quietly, and comfortably.

 

//

Hi.

I hope to find at least 4 people to make this *happen*. If we can, I will do this. I think it’s a big, big topic and worth exploring.

If you think the page is ready to share, I’ll be grateful if you can help me discover some new people to invite…

Here is the detail.
https://www.eventbrite.com/e/thieu-tickets-127583821645

100 Conversations · Desk Notes · Found in the Field · In real life · Innovation Consulting + Design Thinking · Publisher's Diary · The Muse

Atelier S P A C E // HCMC process.. HT V & D

Atelier S P A C E // HCMC is an Autumn 2020 project of DK’s that is co-created by photographer Van Tran and DK Creative Director Dipika Kohli.

‘Studio Day’ by Van Tran / Ho Chi Minh City, Oct. 2020

.. this page used to be a notebook for a grant application that I was going to apply for…

There are so many important questions that pop up when someone who knows how to ask you if the thing you’re making is deserving of wider attention can ask.

Atelier S P A C E // HCMC’s collaborating team is loose and changes, and the people who come bring what they like to the tables. We started to share more there about ideas, mostly philosophical things related to space, time, distance. A-ha!, that’s it. Questing.

chuffed.org/project/spacethezine

 

Found in the Field · In real life

Issue #97

The lead story for this issue is ‘Bờ Biển 1999,’ or ‘Seaside 1999’. It’s by Quân Nguyễn.

This story is in Vietnamese and in English.

Special thanks to DS Phong for editing.

Two images made by Boss are included in this issue, too. Cover image is a show of new works that is a collaboration to make new kinds of zines and art books. This project is led by team members of Atelier S P A C E / HCMC, who are, so far, Văn Trần and Dipika Kohli. 

Feature writer: Quân Nguyễn

Quân Nguyễn writes about his reflections on visiting his home country while returning to his life abroad, in Denmark. On his way to Aarhus, in this quiet moment, he looks back on childhood, and recalls a friend. A dear friend, whom he has not quite lost touch with as they maintain a digital connexion. Yet, somehow, he feels far. A short flash fiction work, in both English and Vietnamese.

Here’s a link.

https://gumroad.com/l/space-saigon-ngaybaygio