Innovation & Creativity

‘Let’s play’

Sure, I’ll spell it out. What we do, here.

  • Innovation consulting, for businesses and NGOs. (What does that mean? It’s a way to say let’s find the new, next thing. Together. The way we lead the conversations is more about discovering your way towards an insight you don’t even know yet, what it is. Because you don’t know what you don’t know, right? So this is where we can help. Design Kompany gives you a way to look within, and our 15+ years of experience in journalism to ask good questions, plus design for dozens of clients, helped us build the toolkit of how to do that well, for you. Use this service for consulting with DK to organically and naturally hit on your Next Big Idea. Save time!, and get to a new thing by talking over what is even possible.) [$$]
  • Graphic design + brand identity, for business owners who have been operating for 5+ years. This is pretty straightforward if you are interested in re-designing what it is you are saying to the world about your ‘why’.’ It’s important to know that, and so we dig deep to get to the ‘unique value proposition.’ And then, we get to designing what it might look like, for you. Six sessions. [$$$]
  • Design thinking workshops, designed for team-building, company groups or educators. It was a natural progression after we worked with a few people on identity design to be asked to deliver short workshops over several hours or several days, on how to think in creative ways. Zoom out. Get clear after you brainstorm and consider myriad angles. There is more to blog about this topic, for sure. Will do that. [$]
  • I write Kismuth. My eWorshops in reflection, designed for individuals who are ready to start new things. Most of the people that I talk to on email these days are part of the ongoing conversations since 2014, to weekly prompts, that are designed to help you find your way to insight by journaling it out. Together. Kismuth is my writing site. [$]

Above are examples are the kinds of commissions DK are working on, currently.

New things ahead for the fall.

Naturally. Changing and growing, all the time. Agile is like that. I found something today that reminded me of how DK started anyway and why people said they liked being part of my studio’s programs, workshops, conversation parties, and even becoming clients. ‘You’re having fun.’

Fun is the point of it.


Innovation starts with play

According to A New Culture of Learning: Cultivating the Imagination for a World of Constant Change‘s authors, play is key. Douglas Thomas co-authored it with John Seely Brown.

Wikipedia says Thomas’ research was funded by several foundations and focuses on the relationship between virtual worlds and civic engagement and digital media and learning. Here is an excerpt:

‘What happens to learning when we move from the stable infrastructure of the twentieth century to the fluid infrastructure of the twenty-first century, where technology is constantly creating and responding to change? The answer is surprisingly simple.

‘Ironically, the relentless pace of change that is responsible for our disequilibrium is also our greatest hope. A growing digital, networked infrastructure is amplifying our ability to access and use nearly unlimited resources and incredible instruments while connecting with one another at the same time. However, the type of learning that is going on as a result looks so different from the kinds of learning described by most educational theorists that it is essentially invisible.’

Let’s discover more. Let’s connect. Let’s start talking. And let’s play.

Anyone in Phnom Penh who is curious about this, can register for The Third Place, here.


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.

100 Conversations · Ideas of Curiosity

How to innovate

The Internet is laden with all kind of stories about ‘innovation’ and ‘creative thinking.’

But what is it, really? And how can you learn to do it?

Mmm. Big questions and pretty subjective but some universals apply, surely.

Here are a few.

Draw connections. Go around to different fields and look at questions ,problems and how they’re tackled outside the boxes you are in right now. Ask questions. Challenge the status quo. Watch things. See. Look for new ways of doing things.  Meet people with different ideas and perspectives.* Try things. Construct  experiences and provoke fresh responses to see what you might find out.

Membership[$] info is here.