Things have evolved for them quite a bit at NUK, I think they’ve moved on from our original design, but the ‘N’ is still there on the cups that DK’s Dipika Kohli drew.
Which is this:
I really like this story. Of how you start with ‘…’ and get to this design. It’s not a straight line. The creative process moves around and changes a lot, in the middle. It’s how it goes. It’s how we learn, and how we grow, too. Since DK had been doing branding work for more than a decade, it wasn’t hard. (These days we’re not doing branding work, by the way. More consulting. More experiential programs. Like these.)
Of DK’s founders hitting the road in 2013, going in search of ‘I don’t know what it even is yet’, and discovering the first team in Phnom Penh to give DK an open hand to design the way we know how to design. By asking questions. Listening. Learning. Gathering. Percolating. Generally: trusting the process. Why not? It’s worked for us for so many clients in the past.
Suddenly I learned today how to send encrypted mail that self-destructs. Boss showed me. Being able to do this (and the need for it, behind the fact that you can do it) together remind me of old action movies that I used to watch, in the days I used to watch things. These days, though, the jump-cuts are too severe and it does my head in, to borrow an Irishism.
There are more things to say, explore, and investigate. There is time, too. There is always time, if we make it. The question is for whom, in what sorts of designedspaces, and how. I think you figured out something, in the short time of exchange, about this very idea… I think it has always been a lingering thing for me, the notion that your time is valuable and better spent in places where your views are respected and valued, and your ideas are considered and weighed. Dialogue and the Art of Thinking Together is one of the books on the old shelf that I used to have, when I had a shelf. When I used to read things… also back in the day… before Krishnamurthi (see below) fell into my hands at an installation that we were doing in a faraway land, thank you JB, for the gift, way back then. From there I began to understand New Things and reprogram my brain to perceive in new ways… More to say. Perhaps in real life. Always the best channel. Cool that we wound up people watching, there at the end… thanks for that.
Two things to share , as sort of footnotes. Ready? Here they are. More next time. Meantime… enjoy the music…. and the rain…. –DK
1. Article 18.
Everyone has the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion; this right includes freedom to change his religion or belief, and freedom, either alone or in community with others and in public or private, to manifest his religion or belief in teaching, practice, worship and observance. —Universal Declaration of Human Rights, UN, is described as ‘a milestone document in the history of human rights. Drafted by representatives with different legal and cultural backgrounds from all regions of the world, the Declaration was proclaimed by the United Nations General Assembly in Paris on 10 December 1948 (General Assembly resolution 217 A) as a common standard of achievements for all peoples and all nations. It sets out, for the first time, fundamental human rights to be universally protected and it has been translated into over 500 languages.).
2. Reflective practice is the ability to reflect on one’s actions so as to engage in a process of continuous learning. According to one definition it involves “paying critical attention to the practical values and theories which inform everyday actions, by examining practice reflectively and reflexively. This leads to developmental insight”. A key rationale for reflective practice is that experience alone does not necessarily lead to learning; deliberate reflection on experience is essential.
“Reflective practice can be an important tool in practice-based professional learning settings where people learn from their own professional experiences, rather than from formal learning or knowledge transfer. It may be the most important source of personal professional development and improvement. It is also an important way to bring together theory and practice; through reflection a person is able to see and label forms of thought and theory within the context of his or her work.
“A person who reflects throughout his or her practice is not just looking back on past actions and events, but is taking a conscious look at emotions, experiences, actions, and responses, and using that information to add to his or her existing knowledge base and reach a higher level of understanding. —Wikipedia on Reflective Practice
AT A CAFE. In between meetings. Next to me there are two people in good conversation, in English, but occasionally Japanese. This is my other language. I am resisting, it is hard, the urge to say something to them. I have this weird and occasionally surprising knack for chatting up strangers and somehow, making solid acquaintanceships in a very compact space of time. Why this is probably has everything to do with the charm of my father, which I think has a lot to do with finding the silliness in the everyday moment (at least, when my mother allows it). Rest of the time they are both pretty serious, or pretending to be. When I think back on the most extraordinary and fulfilling times with my folks, I always feel like we were in transit somewhere, far from the social programmes and mores of the places and communities in which we were rooted. Movement became the kind of thing that set the stage for engaging. Deeply. Curious and different others were somehow very attractive; sometimes my mother would hold back and let my father fly into his own world of talking away to people he didn’t know about topics ranging from thermodynamics and entropy to the kinds of things that one talks about in the middle of a trip from Away to Home, whatever those things were. I don’t know. I would just be hanging out playing cards or something with my little brother; the topics and their content were irrelevant. What mattered was the people who were there, smiling with my father, smiling away. Being in real life. Being in the throes of it. Being noticed. Noticing. For a moment, the shared space. Which nowadays I design for in my own world, making architecture of social spaces, and remarkable human connexion, in the thing that happens online and in real life in the project that since 2016 I’m calling S P A C E. It’s nerdy. I know. So? I like that. And the mentor for this was, of course, my dad. I still remember my father trading postal addresses in the 1980s with total strangers he’d chatted up at, say, Frankfurt Airport, on our way to and fro. My mother would kind of be like, ‘What the hell?’ But, I wish she could have just noticed it. My father likes the new and different. is curious. Is open to trying new things. That is the spirit of innovation, really, isn’t it? Going to the edge, and past it, and exploring to the next-to-now. It’s actually quite in-demand, now. This business of being open to the new. It’s called ‘innovation consulting.’ You go around the world a few times and you start to find ways to make your skills work for you in weird and curious ways. Be open. Say yes. Show up. Try new things. You just have no idea where the next gig is coming from. Just around the corner, you’ll find it, if you’re open to it. The gems. Staying put is boring, for the likes of people like me. (Dad, are you reading this? I think you should go on a trip sometime, maybe with me, maybe with Mom, but really. Trips are where we flourish.)
Starting all over
KEEPING THINGS IN CHECK, maybe, by not getting too carried away with being too joie de vivre-y. Sure. This is more normal, I suppose. I guess that is just a self-limiting thing. You have to do what you have to do in order to maintain a kind of decorum, ‘in the eyes of society,’ Words of the pragmatists, who used to be friends, who have been slowly but confidently let to drift on a long, loose line and not quite cut from my current life but, well, yeah, I guess more or less cut.
Here’s the thing. Caring about what society thinks… you think that you have to. But what if you don’t? What if you don’t have to worry about that? What if what other people thought about you, and what you say, and what you do, and how you do it, and even more importantly, what if you yourself stopped caring about your image, what your words are perceived to be (by you perceiving the predicted perception—you see how this is a little unwieldy?), what you do, and how you do it? What if, what I’m saying is this, now, what if who cares what the reaction is to your self-driven initiative to go out into the world and see what’s there?
What I’m saying is, ‘What if you could just be yourself, the real you, the honest you, the totally unedited version of you. The one you were when you were, like, 8.’ What if? Would you find it easier to chat up strangers? Or, would you come to the realization that it’s not even that important-–the most important thing is knowing what you care about.
You don’t have to pretend like you are some kind of a big deal just because you can get into a conversation with anyone. Even E., on a crosswalk yesterday, on her way from Sydney to England via everywhere that she wants to go in between. (Hi, E.! Yes, I was listening).
Making friends in the cafe.
Making friends on the bus.
Making friends in the…. crosswalk.
I love that.
Let’s keep it going. Let’s keep the conversations in flow.
Let’s chat up the strangers. But not now, not today. Today I’ve got to finish some books.
Here’s to the journeys, the new, the near, the now, and the next.
OMG. I couldn’t help it. Chatted. They are so nice!
IT’S PROBABLY NOT A COINCIDENCE that people into meditation and mindfulness and peacemaking and conflict resolution and organizational development and yoga and innovation and jazz and architecture and software developing are our usual circuit of people who we ‘get’, and who ‘get’ us. The quality of space invites room for play, for discovery and co-discovery. There is no ‘wrong’ or ‘right,’ at the start of these things. You begin as you are, where you are, and how you are. It’s about making the room for it. Space. Time.
A new journal. The right-side pages are blank. So I’m going to be drawing more. I’m going to get back to pencil, more of that, and less of the overassured line. Back to the sort of line that has pressed places and soft places, HB and 5B and stuff like that. There were some products that tried to simulate this on a tablet, but I much prefer the sensation of hand to paper, paper to words, words to thoughts that link and connect and hopefully, one day, make some degree of conversation that is quality, and nothing less.
I wanted to tell you a little bit about what we are up to here, and what DK is about. (I usually stay away from posts like this because it gets long and I start to go on about the ‘past and what we used to be about’ and that’s really much more interesting, I think, to me and the people who used to know me, than it is to you.) You are probably new to DK. I am hoping so. That’s part of why I deleted the old blog. Hitting reset was real good.
A blog for 10 years! And just, poof. Over.
Something about that was freeing. We could reinvent DK for you. For the new person who is coming here, is looking, is curious, is open and I hope, feels invited. Design Kompany is nothing if it’s not making space for the new, the near, the now and the next. All of that, yeah. At once. Can’t even tell you how important it is to us to open this place up a bit more, much more, wider and unblocked. DK’s looking for conversations, for space, for rooms to design scope for the uncertain. There is a lot of loftiness and airiness to that idea, but I want to make a list today of why.
TIME. There comes a moment when you realize, ‘This is what I am born to do.’ For me, it’s making space for people to explore ideas, deeply and stuff, and not just the boring usual conversation. When I say ‘deeply’ that could mean a couple of things. For company people, it’s about what matters and why. For individuals, it’s about who we really are, and not just in terms of big picture overdone philosophy, but who we really are in this moment, in this time. This is a weird time to be a human being. We have digital presences. We have real life presences. And the lines between both are getting more and more obscure. Time is short. Attention is light. Ennui is blunting. What can we do to make the most of our time? That’s one reason we make rooms for conversations: salons, installations, sometimes workshops, sometimes online stuff. It’s all very much in process and behind the scenes there’s more in the way of N:N.
FILTERING. I can’t believe how much time we are wasting these days in the name of productivity. I have been offline this morning and writing in pencil, like I said, and today after I don’t know how many years I busted out the colored pencils. That felt great. I have missed moving color on the page and thankfully, this new book has blank ones, so it’s invited me to pick up the drawing in colorspace, once again. But filters are huge. Filters on who is allowed closer to you, into your inner space, are really necessary now more than ever. Part of why DK was on a boat in Sweden in the fall. Cocooning. It takes one irritating comment to undo a day’s worth of building yourself up to get to the right mindspace for real insight-making. And insight-making is what, ultimately, making space is all for.
INSIGHT-MAKING. I could tell you now about the previous 10 years, but I’ll spare you. If you are the kind of person I am most resonant with, none of that will matter. You won’t be the sort who cares about credentials and degrees and client lists and testimonials, but you will, I’m sure of it, believe me if I say I can produce some of that in five point eight seconds if you want to read it. But you and I will both know that if you have to ask, we aren’t a fit. We’re not a match, and that’s a fast filter. Who has time? I want to get to insight-making. For the people I work with, of course, but also for me.
FOR ME. ‘Why are you making spaces for people to meet and talk with strangers? What’s in it for you? Why are you traveling the world and hosting salons? What about these workshops, why should I join you? What’s in it for us, what’s in it for you? I need to know what your agenda is. I need to know if you’re cool enough to connect with. I need to know, I really need to know, why you are doing this, DK? What the hell? What’s in it for you?’ This is probably the #1 burning question in the hearts of those who get talking to me enough that we are like, ‘Yeah. So what about what you’re up to? What’s in it for you?‘ How to explain. I remember saying these words to a kindhearted locksmith in Sweden: ‘It’s awesome for me. I’m learning. I’m here, I’m seeing you, we’re having this conversation, it’s real life. Real time. Nothing I read about dead philosophers and what they think equals this. I’m actually saving myself a hell of a lot of time, if you want to know the truth. I’m able to move about now, physically and mentally I’m prepared to go into the unknown. I know that might sound bizarre to you, but I’ve been playing in the mucky space of not-knowing for about ten years. Do you think I had a plan, when I started? Of course I did. But of course, I was totally wrong about what my projected stats would be, one year out, five years out, and now, here, look at this, ten years out. The Design Kompany of back then is a whole different thing and you know what? The Design Kompany of back then was pretty darn boring. Young. Unsophisticated. Naturally, that’s how everything begins. Baby steps. Today people call us ‘DK.’ I don’t know why but it just stuck. I read somewhere in a naming thing that if your name is more than four syllables that is just going to happen to you, shortening, so be prepared. I also remember reading in a branding book that it’s not what you say it is, it’s what they say it is. And so whatever DK is it’s DK, and it’s doing the things that DK of today, 10 years on, is doing. Which is still a work in progress, of course. We are getting some pretty cool insights. But it’s not random.
OPEN SPACE. I have been really frustrated lately finding out that the online personas of some people (in Denmark, Cambodia, and America) were pretty much bullshit when I met those people in real life. Bullshit is irritating stuff. It subtracts from time. It hacks at quality spacemaking. I know, I know. I just posted programmer and writer Paul Graham‘s thing on our facebook about how Life is Short. The problem, though, with just knowing that is that knowing isn’t enough. We need spaces to go into and discover ourselves, or remember ourselves. That doesn’t have to mean flying to India and sitting on a mountain. It can be just making time and room in your day to day life through reflection. It’s probably not a coincidence that people into meditation and mindfulness and peacemaking and conflict resolution and organizational development and yoga and innovation and jazz and architecture and software developing are our usual circuit of people who we ‘get’, and who ‘get’ us. The quality of space invites room for play, for discovery and co-discovery. There is no ‘wrong’ or ‘right,’ at the start of these things. You begin as you are, where you are, and how you are. It’s about making the room for it. Space. Time. That sort of thing.
IT’S BEEN A LONG 10 years of learning, looking, changing and growing. Failing, yeah, but I don’t want to jump on that bandwagon. I don’t want to go onto the ‘design thinking’ one, either. It’s obvious that design isn’t an intellectual thing that you can just go into a classroom and fill out the right things in the right boxes and voila, you’re schooled. Don’t get me started on school, I have some terrible new insights that will rock the status quo. (But you can DM me on twitter if you want to hear them.)
These things in the list above are why we are at it, making space. For DK and the people we are collaborating with this year (open call for co-designing, just contact us),
2016 is the year we open things up. Looking for others to talk with, connect with, co-design space for quality conversation, dialogue, and insight-making. Breaking walls starts with knowing how to put walls there, to begin to talk, together, in ways that invite dialogue—the kind with a center, and not sides.
So this is my 100th post. A baby steps blog for trying out the new thing, the space and making of it. DK is here, we’re here because you’re there. It’s relativity, like Einstein talked about. It’s observer changing the thing being observed, like Plank and Bohr and Heisenberg brought up. More if you’re interested. There’s always more. 🙂
DK is making space.
Making space for quality. Making space for us, and you.
THERE IS SOME WEIRD CHRISTMAS JAZZ going on lately in my internet radio streams. This is irritating.
I’m into internet radio; a long time ago it used to be TODAY FM from out of Ireland, because, well, I like that station. Nowadays it’s jazz stuff from Denmark, since I was just there sussing things out. Tokyo in the 1990s. Other places, in the middle, for similar musical investigations, though I couldn’t have called them such, it was just hanging out back then, but most clearly the one I recall for its energy was Small’s. In New York. Cycling ‘cross the Brooklyn Bridge late late late after a show there or elsewhere, maybe not a show, maybe it was the nightclub scene. (Limelight. Yeah. Yeah.)
We never really change
ANYWAY, way back then and suddenly very recently once more, I’m on a new search. Open ears, conscious of the importance of sensing as you go, and going, and looking, listening and learning. (The work at DK in the last few years has been all about making space for people to also get lost in the uncertainty, which is of course rather esoteric but many people like to talk about Heidegger and the Nothing and I think that they are the kinds of folks who, perhaps, might be inclined to want to hear a little more. So it goes, that you find your 0.02% of the world population, if you’re lucky, that ‘get’ you and you ‘get’ them. More about that in a second, when you hit the moment of intrigue.)
Listening and learning
PEOPLE I CONNECT WITH and I share this: we’ve been looking for some new inputs.
To come back to the world of music, I’m going to many places, and lots of clubs small and smaller to see what I can hear. Many times it’s a whiff, that’s just how it is, but every so often you discover something really incredible or run into true intrigue. It happens when it happens and there’s nothing you can really say or do to create the moments of, ‘Hey, wow. This is cool.’ I used to call it ‘the a-ha,’ because that’s what designers like to talk about.
‘Yeah! That! Thatthatthatthatthat!’
It’s like this could be their whole conversation.
Boxes and edges
YOU GET INTO a box, which is in and of itself a huge amount of fussing and overcoming of inertia of the variety that you can ask me to pontificate about, if you meet me in some whiskey bar sometime. (Or if you read S. P. A. C. E.)
You see the edges a little but then you get to working out more of the details of the dimensions and the textures and you see the limitations. Yet we all have to have frameworks to make sense of things, or to let go of the pressing urgency to ‘make sense of things,’ altogether.
Play space, in the box, leads to opening of dimensions that are sentient and close, and these are the ones that make us human. Yes, human. It used to be unfashionable to talk about our humanness, but now, with the obvious limitations on what turning ourselves into machines (workworkwork) can do to our health or distract us from looking closely within to hear our own hearts, the songs there!, and discover a purpose, well. We all know how that story is going.
REAL ARTISTS are doing stuff. They don’t have to go around posting things on Medium. They just know. And so, with the heart open and the eyes wide, I looked in the corners and upon the stages to find the songs that felt right, that made me feel good. It’s a collection. And it’s gonna be called, uh…. what should it be called? Oh, right. It’s the Book of Songs. ‘Cause it’s here at the edges where things mix and come into color that the magic of the moment comes alive. Isn’t art about connection? Conversation? Discovery and making it up as we go, tripping and learning and then, a-ha!? I am writing. I am going to write the best bits into the Book of Songs. —AS
IN THE SECOND INSTANCE, you think it’s good but you don’t know. You email your ex-girlfriend, you forget to attach it. You re-send, and you attach it. This is important, but she isn’t answering. You take pictures of it, and you don’t know which one is in the best light, so you put all five images up on instagram. You hope she sees it. Please hit that little heart.
IN THE FIRST INSTANCE, it feels quite good. Like, ‘Yeah. This is good.’ And you stop and say, ‘I’m done.’ You walk away. You let it be. You move on to the next thing. Maybe it’s a project. Maybe it’s a piece. Something you’ve been trying to get to but you weren’t sure how you would—except, having just completed this thing that feels quite good—whatever it is, having just finished it up, and let it happen, and seeing it looking at you like a thing just born, that’s when you know. You’re ready. ‘Gimme,’ your hands and heart cry. They sort of intuit it. N+1. The next thing, the next place, the next stop on the journey.
IN THE SECOND INSTANCE, you think it’s good but you don’t know. You email your ex-girlfriend, you forget to attach it. You re-send, and you attach it. This is important, but she isn’t answering. You take pictures of it, and you don’t know which one is in the best light, so you put all five images up on instagram. You hope she sees it. Please hit that little heart. You wait. You wonder. You wait some more. This is the place where you start to think, ‘Hm. Maybe it didn’t feel so good.’ Whatever it was. A composition, the way you made it. You start having doubts like crazy, and you want to remove the pictures. You remove about four of them. One left. One big maybe. Days become weeks, become months. Years. And you have only been at N.
Two instances, two outcomes. N. And N+1. Where are you now? Where are you going? —DK
Ira Glass on ‘fighting through’
‘NOBODY TELLS THIS to people who are beginners,’ says Ira Glass. ‘I wish someone told me. All of us who do creative work, we get into it because we have good taste. But there is this gap. For the first couple years you make stuff, it’s just not that good. It’s trying to be good, it has potential, but it’s not. But your taste, the thing that got you into the game, is still killer. And your taste is why your work disappoints you.
‘A lot of people never get past this phase, they quit. Most people I know who do interesting, creative work went through years of this. We know our work doesn’t have this special thing that we want it to have. We all go through this. And if you are just starting out or you are still in this phase, you gotta know it’s normal and the most important thing you can do is do a lot of work. Put yourself on a deadline so that every week you will finish one story. It is only by going through a volume of work that you will close that gap, and your work will be as good as your ambitions. And I took longer to figure out how to do this than anyone I’ve ever met. It’s gonna take awhile. It’s normal to take awhile. You’ve just gotta fight your way through.’ ― Ira Glass Watch/Read it here
MOST IMPORTANTLY, what we care about most now is co-designing space with people in locales around the world. But not just any people. People who are interested in connecting in real life, connecting with one another, eye to eye so that we can have some good old fashioned human style conversation. It really is awesome when it happens. We get into it. There is a sparkle.
This week in Malmö, Sweden, we are hosting our first-ever workshop on productivity. It’s called FLOW.
GREETINGS FROM SCANDINAVIA, ladies and gentlemen. DK is ambling about here for a spell, bumping into people and places so as to make space for real life. Workshops and conversation salons, that is, for people we are meeting in Malmö and Copenhagen.
(It seems pretty wacky to be writing that, but then again, it seemed weird to be hosting tweetups in Hanoi and esoteric salons asking, ‘Is the medium still the message?’, like we did with Aether, in New York’s Bryant Park, and other stuff. So much to share about past stuff, and how we are changing towards more conversation-space design in 2016, but the present moment is pressing upon us and so let me not get carried away reminiscing or projecting.) For now, it’s really about happening upon an insight: what we care about most now is co-designing space with people in locales around the world. But not just any people. People who are interested in connecting in real life, connecting with one another, eye to eye so that we can have some good old fashioned human style conversation. It really is awesome when it happens. We get into it. There is a sparkle.
ON FRIDAY, DK GOT TO MEET SS, a photographer lately taking images of airplanes. They’re supersaturated pics, because they’re printed on metallic paper, I learned. He told me this and a lot of other things, things I was enjoying more than what the previous art reception (larger, boxier), had to say about anything. Oh, and how did I get to SS’s show? I followed some people out of the other place, a fancy gallery, one of those that I once thought were really cool but now see as institutions. This person I struck up conversation with invited me to hop into the giant bucket attached sturdily to the front of his bicycle. Why not?, and there I was, climbing in just like a kid might. Room to spare in this. Viking country.
So nested, I asked, ‘Um. So, where are we going?’
‘I’m not sure yet.’
I like this kind of party, already.
But we are going to meet SS, I find out.
Who will talk about planes and photoshoots with musicians everywhere in the world, but in a light, nonpretentious way that makes me feel glad that I came to Denmark. Then we will go on to philosophize, of course, about how to find the flow and make work that is truly interesting. Creativity, productivity, flow. Call it what you like. Portraiture comes up. Selfies. Chuck Close. ‘I like that Chuck Close quote,’ says S, ‘about working on things.’
I think he meant this one:
The advice I like to give young artists, or really anybody who’ll listen to me, is not to wait around for inspiration. Inspiration is for amateurs; the rest of us just show up and get to work. If you wait around for the clouds to part and a bolt of lightning to strike you in the brain, you are not going to make an awful lot of work. All the best ideas come out of the process; they come out of the work itself. Things occur to you. If you’re sitting around trying to dream up a great art idea, you can sit there a long time before anything happens. But if you just get to work, something will occur to you and something else will occur to you and something else that you reject will push you in another direction. Inspiration is absolutely unnecessary and somehow deceptive. You feel like you need this great idea before you can get down to work, and I find that’s almost never the case. —Chuck Close
THIS SENTIMENT, interestingly, is also going to feature in our workshop this TUESDAY in Sweden. Who’s around? Stop by, say hi. 🙂 —DK