A 1,000 year-old Japanese joinery technique that does not require nails or glue pic.twitter.com/atKE0WGeUJ
— Vala Afshar (@ValaAfshar) September 25, 2019
I had written ‘Just Being Honest’ for a year or so for Saathee when I had first gotten going on the road, in 2013, then took a break to write Breakfast in Cambodia which came out of those columns and another one, ‘The Village Report,’ that ran for two years under different editors at Seattle’s Northwest Asian Weekly. Subsequently, I got the idea in my head to do other things like conversation salons that led to things and people and smart, cool moments that reminded me the poetry of writing isn’t in the shaping of words and sentences, but in the connexion that comes of the spontaneous interactions that come up out of nowhere when you just make yourself open to receive them.
Such thinking opens worlds of doors. And luckily, I got to examine a few of them.
That made me do the next thing. Work with a very small team of people who helped me understand this better, clarify it, (thank you!), and then conceptualize the making of our mini-mag, S P A C E. Couldn’t have done this without the new inputs from people I have met since leaving the United States, and discovered on the road, but also, in Cambodia, and learned to be a part of conversations that are longitudinal, carry more weight with the history and time that gives and gives, reminding us that we are not alone but a part of something bigger, after all, even if the struggle to define that exactly becomes unwieldy and eventually falls into a thing that I now understand is ‘post post modernism,’ ie the tossing of definitions themselves, altogether. This is coming into focus for me, in yet another new place, another new country: Latvia. More about that for the next column, of course.
POLITICS x ART. I was going to write more here about how there are political events that are happening right now that are disturbing and upsetting, especially in countries that don’t even care about human rights (including my own country of birth). But I realize that I’m not informed enough to be able to comment on those things. Still, the state of the world and the oppression of voices of illuminating people who could be the ones who bring humanity towards a better, more equal place is upsetting to me, as it might be to many others who are, at heart, poets. I’m writing from a wild, wacky place right now in Latvia that’s fancy and has ‘Poet’ in its title, like for real. Where, there is one very chatty person who has been asking me a torrent of questions about why I write, how I decided to be a poet (does one decide?), whether I believe in knowledge (nope), what I think about my home country (which is where, again?) and what I might do to sell my books (‘I don’t sell’). Ask me about the boiled egg. It’s too funny.
Funny things are going on, around me, left and right, and reminding me of the absurd that I clung to for so long in my writing, and comics-making, at some point, during the late 2000s when I wanted to try my hand at ‘visual artist’ as, say, a job title. That was short-lived, soon as I found out that the reception for the art show, where people met one another in real life because there I was hosting the show and people were there because of the show, but for me, what I found out, for example at the reception for Today I Love You (2012, was it?) and later, the launch party for Breakfast in Cambodia (2016), it was the mix that was most intriguing to me. Real life. The stage of being there,e together, in a framed moment… a box, kind of, a box of ‘where’ and ‘when’…
Which was how I hit on the idea of framing the moments, altogether discarding the art show, the books, etc. Let’s have parties. Let’s call them S P A C E.
Hosting one tonight, in Latvia.
Here we go.
Off to the new chapters, discovering and running into the next.
War, climate, politics, fear mongering… these things are there. News is bad, people don’t care about each other, the modern world is one of disparity and ennui and disruption of the harmony that can come when we are able to enjoy each other’s differences, instead of parrying one another for no reason other than to fill a void, internally, that could have been prevented if we had had better parenting. Societies begin there, right? Good parenting. And here I am, opining. I don’t mean to do this, really.
But really. I can go on and on and on…
But I’ll spare you.
To the work of making art, which is the only thing, I think, that a poetically inclined person can do in this era to stay sane…
Atelier S P A C E is a two-year roving popup zinemaking atelier. It’s a project of the boutique studio, Design Kompany (started in 2004 in Seattle – presently based in Phnom Penh). On the road since Sept. 2017 from: Battambang, Cambodia, Atelier S P A C E co-creates a weekly zine. This is done with people DK discovers on the spot, in the locations where the popup zinemaking workshops go. DK invite others to co-create the zines. So far, some of the places we’ve been to make zines with others in this way are: Sheffield, Helsinki, Hanoi, Berlin, Seattle, Kuala Lumpur, and Phnom Penh. Stop by. See what’s up. Be a part of the experience at Atelier S P A C E, where some of us will be on hand to write, print, collage and sew with some of you a fresh zine, to be made on the spot: S P A C E | Tokyo, ‘Osananajimi’. Learn more about DK’s Atelier S P A C E and couture zines at instagram.
S P A C E | Tokyo will be a ‘yomikai’ get-together for those who want to read what we create, together, at Atelier S P A C E | Tokyo.
Request more info about either event…
Let’s talk about ‘The Resistance.’ A conversation party and zine reading. DK and friends in Hanoi invite you to be a part of this very limited-edition popup, S P A C E | Hanoi. Save the date for 14 March. Hosted by A. Spaice, who was last in Hanoi to make ‘N’ Hanoi: NARRATIVE.
For S P A C E | Hanoi, ‘The Resistance,’ taking place on 14 March, the time and place will be shared *only* with guests who RSVP. This helps us keep the conversations small in scale and limits it to those who are interested, only. We’re excited to be back in the city after such a long time, and to connect and reconnect, but even better, to interconnect, new and different others whose paths might not have crossed. As per usual: in S P A C E.
To RSVP, go here.
JOIN DK and friends in HANOI for this unique conversation salon on the state of publishing.
LAST SEEN IN DURHAM, NC, when DK and bloggers, editors, photographers, and writers had gathered at Mercury Studio for a short, packed, nonlinear and very frank conversation about the state of publishing. Some of the outtakes informed how DK evolved into the zinemaking atelier that we are today. It’s remarkable to note that we still have the honest, real, and relevant conversation notes: they still hold, today. I’ve been going through this right now, as we look at our archives and get rid of most things that are no longer part of what we are doing here at this studio, but wow. The conversation salon, ‘The State of Publishing,’ was, by far, one of my favorites.
Maybe because I worked in newspapers before DK.
Or because I love community publishing.
Lately, reading and learning about how to design for the aesthetic moment. More ahead, if you are part of this online conversation that we are getting going now, in small circles, in our eZine and its attendant forums, S P A C E. More here.
Inspired by the things that are popping up now as we review our past works in salon making and the outcomes that came from those, I’m interested in convening more people gain for a conversation about publishing today. This time it’s 2019. This time it’s not Durham NC but Phnom Penh. I’m looking for people to co-host this with. Are you curious? Get in touch. This is the beginning. Let’s converse. Let’s play. I’ll personally be there to host this event. Ask me anything about vector art and image trace: I’m lately getting super into these things. Design. Zines. DIY-style publishing.
Who else finds this intriguing? Let’s find out.
S P A C E M A K I N G
It’s become clearer to me that my job is to continue to do this: to make space (ie S P A C E) for a conversation that stretched across the different disciplines, and even connected some people who never had met but who had lived in Raleigh, Durham, or Chapel Hill for decades, was great. I want to thank some of the people who were there, that night: Laura Ritchie, a curator, who was one of the most supportive of DK’s projects in Raleigh-Durham NC; Michael Faber, a designer who also came out to many of our meet ups to see what we were doing and share what he was up as well; Clarion Content’s editor Aaron Mandel, who gave us shout-outs sometimes when we least expected them, theIndependent Weekly‘s then editor Lisa Sorg for showing and and lending the voice of that paper; and Paul Deblinger for telling me to go and read R. Pirsig’s ZAMM (and insisting, and that, in the end, led to the things that came from there: journeying, the road, adventures, the rest).
Disparate voices convening in the forerunner of what’s now S P A C E: that was the point of it. That was the goal. Getting together to learn from one another. Be inspired. Share. The actual learnings, in real life, where it’s not packaged into things that go out as blips into social media feeds. Instead, it’s a conversation. Lately, reading and learning about how to design for the aesthetic moment. More ahead, if you are part of this online conversation that we are getting going now, in small circles, in our eZine and its attendant forums, S P A C E. More here.
Inspired by the things that are popping up now as we review our past works in salon making and the outcomes that came from those, I’m interested in convening more people gain for a conversation about publishing today. This time it’s 2019. This time it’s not Durham NC but Phnom Penh. I’m looking for people to co-host this with. Are you curious? Get in touch. This is the beginning. Let’s converse. Let’s play.
RSVP to make sure you have a spot. Limited seats. Advance bookings only.
DK’s Dipika Kohli will host this event. ‘Ask me anything about vector art and image trace: I’m lately getting super into these things. Design. Zines. DIY-style publishing. Is this of interest? Let’s find out.’
LEARN MORE ABOUT DK’S SALONS…
#innovation #design #designthinking
Photo: Design Kompany
‘Art, at its best, is a conversation. One in which sender and receiver are locked in a timeless, wordless space, the quality of which only they can know:’ –Dipika Kohli, S P A C E | Palo Alto, 2014, in a conversation with the people who inspired S P A C E the zine.
As consultants, DK’s work is about discovering a strong concept of ‘why’ one does the work that one does. We use a lot of techniques to uncover that exact main idea, but the biggest tool we put into practice is dialogue. On a more personal note, DK’s founders and collaborators are generally curious, and interested in the art of conversation, so together we host events to gather in one moment those whose paths might not have otherwise crossed.
ART OF CONVERSATION. Central questions of identity, possibility, and search are the points from which DK’s inquiry takes its departure. Who are we becoming when we venture to places, and engage with cultures, the rules and shape of which we do not yet know? Dialogue is at the center of DK’s take on leveraging the best of the creative process, and it lies at the heart of all that we do. Whether we are in a client meeting or getting acquainted with a potential new friend, we are listening as best as we can. Through time, and sharing, there comes a moment when we arrive together at a conceptual ‘a-ha’. This is the breakthrough, and from here, the poetry of the connection becomes refined, nuanced, developed, and… more interesting.
DK was founded in 2004 in Seattle, WA, USA. Since that time, DK has worked with 100+ business owners of companies both large and small, as well as international development organizations. See what people say about working with DK.
‘Anything is possible’
Innovation & Human Centered Design
‘It’s a practice.’
‘S P A C E quests and designs itself, in the pursuit of more and better S P A C E’
Michael Bridgett, Jr.
Nils don Sihvola
Be a part of things to come
Are you ready to take part in something very new, and very much about exploring the ways to connect, and interconnect, new and different others? The best way to be part of DK is to support our work, first. To do that you can become a subscriber of S P A C E for USD $7/week, or make a donation, at our crowdfunding page. Or, show up in real life at any of our events. New projects ahead for 2020. KIT when you support this work to make more and better S P A C E.
LET’S TALK ABOUT learning. How we discover, find, and make new connections. Ideas, shapes of thinking and the input that comes from places that might not be the ‘usual’ ones. No more boring meetings: What are the containers that make great conversations *happen*? Cnversations that lead to better collaboration and better work? Those are important. Let’s not waste time. Let’s make things better, together.
Better and more enjoyable: that’s the key. How do we design the S P A C E that lets fresh thinking flow?
Let’s consider. Let’s discuss.
‘Strange Geometries’ is our first invite-only salon on this topic. Min 4. Max 7.
WHAT YOU’LL GET. DK will share:
- Grice’s ‘Maxims of Conversation’, as introduced to us by Eric Chuk, who studied narrative ontology
- Six Thinking Hats, a method of opening dialogue.
- The Open Space Technologies how-to.
- Free eBook, ‘SELF’, by DK’s Dipika Kohli (a USD $95 value).
Application required. Apply below.
This workshop will be hosted by DK’s Dipika Kohli. She has delivered seminars at University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill on the topic of Design Thinking, a series caled SELF as a 9-week experiential program at Stanford University, and for an architects circle in Seattle DK was invited to present, ‘Just Be You.’
#innovation #design #designthinking
APPLY. To request an invite, first apply here:
Update: S P A C E members are invited to weigh in at this page.
TWO PEOPLE will know what the title of this post is about. Two. Just two. I met them yesterday. A and T. The question I posed to elicit these answers is a private one, something I won’t share outside of my innermost circles. (That’s just a handful of people, around the world, with whom I connect deeply and talk about ideas with regularly, over time. For progression and depth. More about that in a second. But together, we call this journey, a foray into S P A C E). For now, I need to say thanks. To A and T.
Thank you both for being there, on the rootftop, for sharing with me and admiring as we, who are tenderhearted and questing, the view of the half-moon beneath the clouded, darkened, past-dusk, and past-nine polluted skies and the redness of that lunar orb: vague and yet, alluring.
For the last few years, I’ve been focusing so much on how to ‘design’ for these kinds of moments. So much, that I forgot how to just let the universe lead me straight into them. Which, of course, is how I first started. Running into this: the magic. The art. Oi, but it’s getting big. Already. That’s okay. That’s where the good stuff is.
INTRIGUE. There was the mystery of it that drew me to that exact spot, to contemplate it for a bit. But also: stopping. Standing still, for a moment. Atop the world, there, or, at least, atop Phnom Penh. I’m not much of a going-out type of person, but I’ve made a pact with myself to ‘try new things’ more often, especially in the town that’s been where I’ve been lucky enough to stop for a while and take stock of the things that, for me, have been sieved out to be the clear, wide understandings that say, together, ‘This counts.’
Like I said, there was another moment, in another bar, on another roof, in the same town, on the same topic that you and I, A and T, together, explored. Because I’m a sort of nerd about relational art, I have to bring it up: I have to think about how that thing that was rests next to this thing that is. (Is this reality?) More about that another day, maybe when we all get better acquainted.
Continue reading “Reality and trust”
LOTS TO SAY about ‘zines.’ What they are, why we make them. The upshot is: got tired of other people’s perceptions of what ‘writing’ ought to be. Or ‘art.’ Or ‘design.’ After working for a small alt-weekly in southwest Ireland (layout, design, writing, editing, selling ads, delivery, crying because files got lost, befriending MO’B in the whole two-year process because, yeah, publishing, like), and then, moving to Seattle to work at a daily (newspaper, serious, business card, says ‘editor!’, I go and sit there very day, must be for real), then yeah. I wanted to write other kinds of things. I wrote four eBooks, in a series, Kismuth. That was fine. Learning. Editing, changing. Redid things, when I added more imagery: Breakfast in Cambodia has sketches in it. There were other phases: making art shows, all that. Getting ‘serious’ and having a resume and going on residencies and whatnot. But really: why? The why is always at the heart of all the questions I ask, people, when I usually get called to do some kind of design consulting thing about ‘let’s look at this a new way, you’re good at that, can you give us some ideas, here? We so need to innovate on this, and, well, you’re doing everything, it seems like, over there, in left field.’ ‘No, no. Not left field.’ ‘Then?’ ‘From out of the blue.’ ‘Ah.’ ‘…’ ‘Well. I’ll have some of what you’re having.’ ‘Zines?’ ‘What?’ ‘Zines!’
BY INVITATION. Details are here.
ORIGIN: ‘What is fromness?’ is inspired by ‘Ask me where I’m local’ by Taiye Selasi: ‘When someone asks you where you’re from … do you sometimes not know how to answer?’ Selasi speaks for “multi-local” people. In other words, people who feel at home in the town where they grew up, the city they live now and maybe another place or two. How can I come from a country?, she asks. How can a human being come from a concept?’
Origin: What is ‘fromness?’ Join Design Kompany in an informal setting for a conversation salon, ‘Origin.’
We’ll be talking about questions that help us all reflect on self-identity, whereness, and the notion of ‘where I am from.’ The program is light, and a slight redesign of our 2014 Origin conversation salon in Phnom Penh, in which 16 people gathered for an unusual experience of talking with complete strangers about close-to-the-heart questions. Since then the event has also been seen in Bangkok and Hanoi.
Come meet people from a wide mix of backgrounds. People whose paths you might not have crossed. Who are interested in taking a good, honest look at questions like: Who am I? Where am I ‘from?’ Who is my family? Where is my home? Questions that, we learned in 2014, truly open the heart. And help us learn more about one another, as well as ourselves.
- ‘I never imagined I’d meet so many different people.’
- ‘I wish we’d had more time! Thank you.’
- ‘Weird and interesting!’
- ‘Refreshingly honest.’
This event is for members of S P A C E and their guests. Learn more about how to become a member of S P A C E here.
Printed set of limited-edition zines from the new collection, S P A C E || Finland. For members of S P A C E.
Join S P A C E here.
GREAT CONVERSATIONS UNFOLDED as DK and friends made zines in Oulu with guests of Hei Kesä.
Hei Kesä was 16 August’s popup zinemaking workshop and mini-art exhibition.
Very special thanks to Anu Lakkapää of Kahvila Tuokio for co-hosting with us, what a great place, and to Paavo Heinonen of Ouluntaiteidenyö for the exceptional conversations.
It was cool and low-key to be part of the yearly Ouluntaiteidenyö, or Oulu Arts Night, a popup of art, literature, and music. Highly recommend putting this on your tour if you are an enthusiast of small -scale cities, nature, new places, new people, intriguing peoplewatching, and drift. Not that many people wander this far north, and here we are, finding a moment, at Tuokio, discovering the point of it all, I feel, the point of making art, anyway: discovering the beauty of now, here, where we are. In real life, together.
ZINEMAKING. Zines from the summer. Zines from the moment. Learning together about how to let go of the ‘this is what art making looks like’ ideas, in order to just play. Like, improvise. On the spot. Together. Co-creating poems in the dada style, choosing buttons from a bowl and sewing them into our books. Folding, cutting, drinking coffee, enjoying. Very special, very cozy (like our hygge experiences at small clubs in Copenhagn, and fika conversations in Malmö).
There are a lot of people who informed the design and content of this, and I’ll be talking more about that sometime, but meantime before battery runs out on this machine, and before I fall asleep again, I want to share one picture today of what it felt like to be there.
Next stops: Helsinki, Kuala Lumpur, and Phnom Penh for salons, workshops, and ateliers. See our upcomings here.
“MISSÄ OLET NYT, Alexis?”
“Mistä kutsut minua?”
Äitini nauroi. ‘Hei odota. Et ole leikkiä. Olen kuullut tuosta paikasta, mutta … onko se todella paikka? Tarkoitan, se on oikeastaan paikka sitten. Ah?’
‘Joo. Se on paikka, äiti. ” Tauko. Sitten: “Kuka hän on?”
Editor’s note: The above is a (very!) brief excerpt from ‘Kesä Rakkausjuttu‘, or ‘A Summer Love Story’. DK will share this new story in real life for the first time in Oulu on Thursday, 16 August, at ‘Hei Kesä at Oulu Arts Night.’
DK AND FRIENDS TOGETHER co-host the zinemaking popup conversation salon and *happening* ‘Hei Kesä’ in Oulu. This is in collaboration with Kahvila Tuokio and Oulu Taiteiden Yö (Oulu Arts Night).
It was the delightful yellow bright interior of the cafe that got us thinking, ‘This would be a great place to host a zinemaking popup about summer, summer memories, summer stories, love, romance, all that kind of thing, and we’ll do it on 16 August to coincide with the citywide popup that is Oulu Arts Night.’
An idea. A chance encounter, or two, and voila. Special thanks to Paavo Heinonen for including DK’s event in the Oulu Arts Night programme and conversing with us about how to make it even better. A great collaboration like ‘let’s do this. Let’s make it really fun for people, and let’s talk about who would want to be there, and then, what we can do to design a magic moment.’
That’s what starts all this. Sparkly things like discovering people, places, and the brightness of a yellow interior that feels exactly like ‘Hi, Summer.’
Speaking of, big thanks to Anu Lakkapää at Kahvila Tuokio for offering
the space. DK loved meeting her and talking about her passion for making cakes. Plus, the espresso was really, really good. (A must for any venue DK chooses for our events, hah.)
A SERIES. Shout-out, too, to Eveliina Karsikas. Eveliina owns the cake and coffee place Cafe Onni in Kärsämäki, which is relatively new here. If I’m correct, it opened this very summer, and we happened to be in the same town, and found it. The colorful interior here drew our eye and that’s part of why we made a coloring-book to share along with our usual zines. Eveliina had kindly co-hosted this event, ‘Hei Kesä’, with us in that town earlier this summer, on International Zine Day. (See picture at left).
OULU. Now our team is looking forward to getting the popup installed, and opening up the new zine show on 16th. The first part of our programme is a workshop, and there are very limited seats. Tickets are €15, includes materials, plus coffee, for the zinemaking workshop. Here is our schedule for the day. We’ll have all of our new zines with us to showcase and share on the day, too. All were made in Finland this summer, the set we call our S P A C E || Finland collection. Here’s a picture:
16 A U G U S T
Zines. Coffee. Real life.
Oulu Arts Night
€15 (price includes materials, plus coffee)
Ages 16+. Limited seats. Be sure to book in advance to confirm your spot: get tickets here.
3PM Zine Table
OUR TRAVELING series 16N is next stopping in Helsinki. It’s a big blind date for just 16 people. (Who will be there? That’s the whole magic of it. The thing is a giant *surprise*.) It’s by invitation. Ask us for an invite, when you follow the story, here: http://designkompany.com/16n
Celebrating International Zine Day
PIENOISLEHTIEN TEKEMINEN on Suomessa vielä harvinainen harrastus. Työpajassa tutustut lehtien tekemisen mahdollisuuksiin ja opit taittelemaan ja tekemään uniikkeja tai monistettavia vihkosia. Sisältö voi olla kuvia, tekstiä tai ehkäpä pieni tarina. Millaisen lehden sinä voisit tehdä? Pajaan osallistuminen ei vaadi aiempaa kokemusta tai valmista ideaa. Ohjaajana taiteilija Dipika Kohli, Design Kompany (US). Ohjaus suomeksi ja englanniksi. €10 (hinta sisältää materiaalit, sekä kahvin ja leivonnaisen)
Mukana voi tuoda myös omia aikakausi- ja sanomalehtiä sekä askartelutarvikkeita kuten sakset.