'S' is for Sincerity · Strange Geometries

Dear Seattle

Remember DK? Just back now. In business again. After nine years, reopened. Virtually everywhere, and sometimes in Seattle, too. With the thing that DK started out doing, over there. Back at it again.

Branding. Brand identity design.

For those just joining, welcome. And for those whose paths I’ve already crossed in some or another part of Pioneer Square or Capitol Hill,  or maybe that occasional venture out from there, (rare), welcome back.

What is our branding style like? It’s conversational, really. To get to a great concept, you have to start there. DK’s approach is informed by my past work in journalism for small and medium-sized newspapers in Seattle and southwest Ireland, yes, I said Ireland, there are many, many new dimensions to add to our services now. I’ll save the long story for another time.

It’s been a bit of a detour, but, like many who were wondering what to do ‘next’ during the pandemic-so-far, I got these ideas. New ideas. Always; nothing new there.


Seeking new clients, from mid-November, in industries we understand well. Process-oriented professionals in architecture, engineering, and design are welcome to get in touch if you’re looking for a refresh, rebrand, or just to talk about what you might want to think about for your future marketing strategy.

Start a conversation? Here is a link.



16N · A Philosophy of the Moment · In real life

S P A C E | ‘In The Third Place’

Tuesday’s issue of S P A C E, DK’s weekly e-mag, will be ‘In the Third Place.’

In which I’ll write down what we have gathered from the goal of showing up, meeting regularly, at the same place, monthly, since I got back to Cambodia in November. Some of the time, not all of the time, there is magic.

9 July | The Third Place. Max 4. Tickets >

I must have reached out to 45 people over the course of six months. Since I returned to Phnom Penh, I figured it would be a good idea to reach out and see if I could network my way to finding people who were new here, this year. Maybe new energy is just what I need, I thought, after 20 months in solitude (See my book, Solitude, Kismuth Books / 2021). So I did what I do when I show up in a new city. Networked online.

Mostly LinkedIn, this time. I have given up on twitter. My personal account was deleted years and years ago and my @designkompany one is private. I quit facebook in 2014. I lost my passwords to all the other things that used to be hip and cool and fun in 2006ish.

I do have Discord but that is just to talk to one person. Which makes sense. I have Zalo for three people. And that’s it, me and my social media ‘contacts.’ Haha. Simple is good, for me. Speaking of which, there are just four spots for each edition of The Third Place. One is mine, so I have three tickets. It’s advance bookings so I don’t have to bother with dealing with cash on the day which is awkward since I don’t have a phone to take payments, and I think that is what people do now.

THE THIRD PLACE. To be continued. We’ll try this. Meeting on the 9th of the month in  July… It’s advance bookings. Get tickets.


100 Conversations · A Philosophy of the Moment

Where time stops

Two days from now I will host The Third Place in Phnom Penh. In several weeks we will have ‘N’ Phnom Penh: NEUTRALITY. There are people who are invited and people who are considering it, and then there are the people I have yet to discover between now and the day we start the moments of conversations on stages in real life.


‘I design space for us to discover each other, and if we’re lucky, something, too, about ourselves

It’s definitely a little bit of a surprise, each time, who comes, what happens, and what happens after that. Normally I like to keep things going in progressions, so as to deepen the stories that allow us to knit together a fabric of something that contains within it a sense of movement, continuity, connection, and even belonging. So many days, so little time, so few relationships of depth and value. These are the times when I start up programs, like Mirror, which began yesterday, The Third Place (Thursday), ‘N’, and so many other things.


Out of all the movements through the 27 countries, sometimes for a few days, sometimes for almost a decade (like now), there have been few times that I felt real centers of conversations that stop me in my tracks and make me think, and think-feel. That’s different from thinking. The longer I am away from places where the Western intellectual ‘trap’ is pressed on us as though it’s, duh, a given, as the superior way to think about everything, the more I am appreciative of my near-decade of unlearning it.

Feeling. Being. With the help of many teachers and mentors, notably PR, and VT of late, but also in earlier lifetimes with CB when I was a teen and JM in Seattle, and others, I’ve learned how to stop being so caught up in the things that profess to be impressive. They’re not. No amount of money will ‘win’ you true love. Or true friendship, which, of course, is the bedrock of real love. And what is this thing when people say to me, ‘You are so authentic.’ What a lot of nonsense. What else is there to be? I find it weird and almost insulting; shouldn’t a person just be what they are? And yet, they’re not. More and more, fake is the way. Fake fake fake fake fake. It’s so boring.

So I keeping inviting, keep learning how to discover new people to invite and relate. Not fake. Real.

Deeply, not superficially.

When we talk, time can stop.

Visualizing a moment where the people who show up can connect, converse, and through that very act of taking a chance on something great can also thereby release something difficult… I feel like I can create those stages, design those rooms. Social spaces. No physical architecture for me, these days, though my first aim in life was to create tall buildings or make public squares that allow for what I’m describing. Yet even in the great piazzas and parks of some world class cities, over the last decade and a half I’ve seen a decline of the Real to exist, comfortably, within them. This is my rally against such blandness, recessions of the real. I design S P A C E.

We meet. And through the simple art of being and being together with other curious people, it works. Because there is no falseness, no agenda, and no expectation. What we do is discover. And co-discover. Together. It’s how I started the projects to move around and make S P A C E. It’s also why I stopped. Too much energy. Too much work.

Time stops for people in these moments of connection that allow us to really get conscious of our ‘why’, our purpose, our direction, and our goals. But, and I’ll be really honest here, many people fade away from these kinds of things for a second opportunity because maybe it’s too easy to sink bank into the comfort of that which is known, not challenging it, or just letting yourself believe that what you have always believed, or what people told you to believe, somehow ‘fits.’


At the point of departure

When you show up in the moments of conversations that I like to host, and design for, with the arrangements in relational aesthetics that move us towards some kind of discovery-through-being-together, and just that, it works. For me. To slow into the moment and go still. With others who are interested in connection that moves us all into that very infinite, very lovely, loud Quiet.

My books are described as poetic, and the way I talk about particular moments are what people have shared in reviews that they are most impressed by. If the best memories of our life are the moments that we enjoy deeply, why not design for such, and engage with them? Why should I stop making space for people to converse and connect, in which… and this really happens, time doesn’t just slow down, but occasionally…. stops.


Why should I quit being part of the internet conversation where people occasionally fall upon a blog post that resonates with them, in a way that clickbait cannot. In a way that isn’t about selling or persuading or pulling the wool over someone’s eyes, but rather, is an invitation. To look. To focus. To still. To arrive.

It’s not that hard, but it takes a lifetime, to go into the big quiet and loosen up, there. I can talk more about it, in Mirror, and S P A C E, if you feel like listening, sign up for something sometime.

Here are a few links.



Images: Jess Bailey


100 Conversations · A Philosophy of the Moment

9 June | The Third Place

A third place is the one that isn’t work, or home

Not work. Not home. Meet with up to 4 others, regularly. We talk. We talk some more. It gets more interesting, over time. New section is opening for Summer 2022. Discover it. The ‘third space’. Call for interest meeting, this one.

Very limited seating. Advance bookings only.

Register at this link:



A Philosophy of the Moment · Strange Geometries

Can we apply lessons from agile design to redirect business goals, post-Covid?

Yesterday I posted to my LinkedIn network the idea of wanting to write a series of posts about ‘post-covid success’. As in, what are the new metrics for that. I wrote that I was interested in finding a few people to comment, on this topic, through a normal style Q&A that leads me to fantastic places, at times, when I find the right fit for a story.

Currently, the story leads are generally not coming into shape quite yet, so I think I need to illustrate here with a few pre-start posts what it is I want to discover. It’s like that. It’s agile. You take a step.


Step one: decide to take a step. Then step. (It’s okay to try things.)

Then you look around. Then you take another step. This is the way we think about things at Design Kompany because largely you don’t know what you don’t know so you have to kind of be willing to take a chance on things.

And stick your neck out, a bit, too. Thankfully the 2013 ‘Year of Uncertiaty’ project, which took DK’s teammates on a roving tour to connect with designers and artists because we wanted to know what they were doing so we just rolled around, mostly on old buses or desperately old trains, to get to the interesting places. Saw the Himalaya.

Went to Nepal, found the media people. Moved to Punjab for the writing residency I had had there. Wrote a book, Kanishka (Kismuth / 2015), but only a full two years later, as it takes time to process, too. The story was based on my own experiences of an event that, in 1985, had had other, different-angled stories and perspectives, in that region of India. I wanted to hear them. The stories that came to me from the ambient spaces and collective unconscious of the field, the sky, and the people I met who shared things.



Deeply not superficially

People do that. We talk. We talk together. And we go very deeply, sometimes, into that ‘I don’t know what I don’t know’ space. Which became S P A C E. A mini-mag that records the collected moments. Since 2017, it’s been going. Which records this journeying of things into these places, each week, and compiles them into an e-mag. It is handy because I love publishing; I was in newspapers before designing and setting up DK, which is this studio. This studio is also doing some small side projects, including Atelier S P A C E which co-creates on the road when it can. (Not much lately, that’s okay), and virtually (often). Good. It’s good. It works.

So I found an article (see below) that started to get to what I want to get to, which is interesting, timing-wise. Maybe there are loads of us, now, thinking about the new landscape for business, opportunities and costs and strengths and weaknesses, right? And here is something that I liked about what I read, which I’ll share now. First, the source is McKinsey. Here is the bit that was curious to me:

‘Call it the “great unfreezing”: in the heat of the coronavirus crisis, organizations have been forced to work in new ways, and they are responding. Much of this progress comes from shifts in operating models. Clear goals, focused teams, and rapid decision making have replaced corporate bureaucracy. Now, as the world begins to move into the post-COVID-19 era, leaders must commit to not going back. The way in which they rethink their organizations will go a long way in determining their long-term competitive advantage.

‘Specifically, they must decide who they are, how to work, and how to grow.

‘Who we are. In a crisis, what matters becomes very clear, very fast. Strategy, roles, personal ownership, external orientation, and leadership that is both supportive and demanding—all can be seen much more clearly now. The social contract between the employee and employer is, we believe, changing fundamentally. “It will matter whether you actually acted to put the safety of employees and communities first,” one CEO told us, “or just said you cared.” One noticeable characteristic of companies that have adapted well is that they have a strong sense of identity. Leaders and employees have a shared sense of purpose and a common performance culture; they know what the company stands for, beyond shareholder value, and how to get things done right.

‘How we work. Many leaders are reflecting on how small, nimble teams built in a hurry to deal with the COVID-19 emergency made important decisions faster and better. What companies have learned cannot be unlearned—namely, that a flatter organization that delegates decision making down to a dynamic network of teams is more effective. They are rewiring their circuits to make decisions faster, and with much less data and certainty than before. In a world where fast beats slow, companies that can institutionalize these forms of speedy and effective decentralization will jump ahead of the competition.’

Read the story at this link:



The takeaway: Be ready to change everything, at any moment

Here’s why I think it’s interesting.

Of course knowing who you are is always helpful, and a good system of figuring that out is wonderful to have. Consultants like us here at DK can help with branding and brand marketing and brand strategy, I feel, because we used to do that in a very existentialist way for some architects and designers in Seattle who said, ‘Yes, Take me on that journey.’

I didn’t realize how rare this would be, after moving to the Southeast of the United States. So few and far between were the ‘right fit for you’ clientele that I decided we should do a 2012 Year of Dialogue roundtable series around both regions, and then, actually go on a whole giant South and Southeast Asia tour.

I think the world caught up to the fact that all of a sudden, you might find yourself without a safety net. All that stuff about leaping and a net will appear is for privileged people who read books for their lot and who don’t come from those places where narcissists-who-profess-to-care send something called ‘flying monkeys’ out to sabotage you all along the way of your journey because, hey, narcissists love to see you flop.

A mentor on my trip told me ‘it’s best to put a continent between you and …’

Weirdly, the journeying grew into something like a way of life, a nomadic existence, but something else happened too. I didn’t see where I had come from, after a point. I wasn’t really aware of the fact that I had ‘left’ anything. And here I am, still in Asia. Nearly ten. Years. Later. And I totally know who is for real, and who is bullshit, because the road will teach you that.

Like hell. It will.



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