S P A C E | Đà Lạt • ‘Tìm Mình Trong Thế Giới’ is the next in our weekly e-zine series. It is set to release on Tuesday.
DK Director Dipika Kohli made the drawing on the cover this week. The drawing’s title is: Chúc Ngủ Ngon & Chào Buổi Sáng / Good Night & Good Morning.
A line artist for many years, Kohli has rekindled her old style of drawing by putting pencil to page again. This [cover] drawing is part of a series of more than fifty new pencil and colored pencil works. These were created in quiet moments, on the spot, in several cafes and brightly lit atelier spaces she discovered while in ‘The Great Lockdown’ (so far) in Đà Lạt, Việt Nam. Kohli had plenty of time alone to write, draw, and reflect, whilst also working on a new book, End of the Rainbow (Kismuth Books / forthcoming 2020).
This effort has come out of the slowing down, a natural outcome resulting from the first and second waves of covid19-related measures to maintain social distancing, and self-isolating, in the era of this, the Great Lockdown, so far. Kohli has been in the Central Highlands since April—and continues to discover and make. In bursts, that is. And only when inspired by the chance encounter and surprisingly enriching dialogues with the people in the places where she goes. S P A C E is a weekly zine. It is created by Design Kompany, which was started in 2004 in Seattle and today is based in Phnom Penh. DK are intrigued about how to design the space for an aesthetic moment to happen, on the spot, for unexpected and random connexion, with the people, objects, and places where they go, in S P A C E.
You can order this week’s issue.
Here’s a link.
After about seven years of not doing any graphic design work-for-hire, something changed.
Someone asked me to make a thing.
I started it, and as I went, I realized, it’s time to bring this service back and offer it again, to those who might run across this site and say, ‘I like that! I want to hire these people. Who are these people, anyway? And what is S P A C E?’
Glad you asked.
We are a team of people who collaborate in the cloud: Dipika Kohli is the creative director. Akira Morita is a cofounder working on design thinking and innovation consulting. Jas Plac does our outreach and communications. And A. Spaice does research & development. These days we make a weekly e-mag, called S P A C E. it’s about design and discovery.
The people we meet in the places where we go (mostly Southeast Asia and Northern Europe, since 2014), share stories, sometimes, and when they get to a place where they feel like they’re becoming something substantial, we shape these into ‘zines.’
They’re 16 pages, each, designed to be read in a single sitting, say over coffee. At times, we make black & white issues so they’re easy on printers, so you can download, print, fold and assemble your own, by adding your own creative flair.
Got into a bit of a discussion about this with someone yesterday who is 24.
This person was highlighting to me his past work, in something that I didn’t find too terribly intriguing but he really wanted to impress me, I guess, so we watched some clips of things that he had produced. I suppose he is an event producer, but not trained or anything, just self-designed. That’s fine, of course. I’m self-designed in design, having studied civil engineering and worked in architecture and journalism. But design is something people just ask me to do.
For example, a friend from that era, VH had asked me to make a senior t-shirt, when we were in high school, because she liked my drawings and comics, and no one else was putting forward an idea, and I was the Vice President of the Student Government at that time, so we put out a call, I think? And I don’t think anyone entered. So I made it. I don’t even know what it looks like now, thinking back, but V. had liked it and was happy. I had done t-shirts for Governor’s School East for my hall, too, and before that a lot of things like program covers and posters through elementary and middle school that had won prizes and stuff, so. I guess. That it was… destiny, haha. Or just… a knack for it. And lots of attentiveness to continuing to do it, not get sidetracked by other things, just doing the drawings when I felt like it. Helped that this was in an era where we didn’t have internet. Nice thinking about the senior t-shirt design, again. That was fun. I was 17.
Depth. I was talking about yesterday’s conversation and somehow got distracted thinking about being 17. It’s kind of related, though, right? I mean, you get good when you practice, but you have to have some kind of latent talent to start getting good, too. And encouragement. Fact. In my case yesterday, I think skipping over ‘talent’ and ‘practice’ and ‘encouragement’ was taken for granted by this young person who saw $$$ ‘I got paid for this’ $$$ as an indication of its having had value.
Not to me.
The thing I saw was just… well. Lacking in substance.
Happens. And more and more these days, when we have substitutes for real life in the form of video streams and chatboxes. What happened? Well, that’s out of scope, here.
My thing is, let’s bring some of the good stuff. Let’s open the doors here at DK again, and show people how they can arrive at… quality. I know how to do this. Why not share. Selectively, of course. Not for everyone.
I have a particular way of deciding if I will care about a project, which has everything to do with the attitude of the person asking me to work with him or her or them. Truth is, if I don’t see much thought in something, I have no interest whatsoever.
Most people I meet on the road I will know for less than three hours. I meet a hell of a lot of people, on the road. Yesterday, I just listened politely, but then, something happened.
Weirdly, it just did…
Sometimes this does this. I went into speechmaking mode.
Perhaps because we had a third guest, join us in the middle. Who. Was. Really. Attentive, and who had gone through my samples of drawings, and poetry and other stuff that I felt like sharing, with great admiration and accolades. Okay, it was flattering, but yeah, he really was curious about me, my work… my thinking. What I’ve been up to here in Vietnam. I have some stuff now that has Vietnamese language translations, too. So you can tell, if you’re the kind of person who can tell, that is.
Maybe there’s not one particular type; but there are a few people… one out of a hundred?, who resonate with DK’s style.
D: The other day, someone asked, What’s your TEDx talk about? I said ‘Death.’ Then he said, ‘Ooh!… Edgy.’ But it was 8 years ago
A: You are. DK is edgy
D: Well, once someone in Seattle said I was popular
A: You are not popular. You are edgy
D: How is this ‘edgy’! I don’t even a phone and I type on zoom chat to you and use email
A: That is edgy
Quality is a vector: it goes up and down
Everyone knows capitalism doesn’t care about quality (or morality, or ethics). It has one thing it cares about.
This—DK—is different. This is a place where we optimize for something else.
I call it…
The level of thinking, the level of work, the level of caring, and something that had… substance… was clear to this third person. Not my companion in the conversation, but the third person. For that guest’s benefit, despite my headache and slight cold and all-day bus ride, and variables that I don’t feel like putting down here, despite it all, there I was, launching, as I do, into… well, S P A C E.
Was kind of fun, actually. HT KEF, who would have enjoyed it, and sat back, I know, smiling knowingly, with the sharp observations of only KEF, which would go, roughly, I think, ‘Just another step in the evolution of DK.’ Since KEF and DK have been acquainted since, and were dear friends for most of the mid-1990s, I can picture it, and I can enjoy the knowing that yes, that’s it. We’re on a new trip, now. All kinds of things are starting up again. But, quietly.
Anything is possible, that was our tagline back in 2004 when we started DK in Seattle from that chic architects’ office sublet. I wonder if AH remembers it. Or EP. I wonder if JK does, or if any of our clients, guests of brown bag lunches like Dream Kitchen, or collaborators for projects who helped with illustration or photography or web dev, or friends, or guests at our parties like Sugar and Dazzle will recall it. The feeling. The feeling of going into the unknown, together, to quest what we may. In a place that goes… there.
Think Sun Ra, for example.
Think… Art, substance, magical potentially… taken together, a little spark… set against the backdrop of Debord’s Society of the Spectacle blandness… what is this? This? This is DK. This is what we do. Discover, design, and outline it: together. Quality.
Need help with a design project ? Get in touch >
Fascinating insights this week as I review all my notes, in one sitting (thank you, desk!) from a three-month period of time in one place. That is to say, DK did not move (naturally, right?) in March, April and May. Instead, we hunkered down in one point in the Central Highland of Vietnam.
Going to be sharing about the learnings, gleanings, insights and beautiful beginnings of extraordinary things, soon. In Papers.
It will be confidential, and only relevant to those who join in. That is, nothing is going to be put there if it’s not somehow part of the spheres of interest of those who join. Which is why it’s so fun. [deleted]
Papers is my online conversation space, now, pretty much exclusively.
And it’s also exclusive, just four guests at a time.
The point? A place to go to share ideas, bounce things off of others, and connect. Deeply, not trivially (as R. Pirsig put it so insistently, and endearingly, in Lila). Because we need this. We need quality conversation space and not just massive 1:many thingies.
I don’t really like 1:N. Partly why I’m not doing this blog so much, these days. I used to! Wow, did I ever. I blogged every day in 2006, I think. Jeez, though. That’s just a… lot of stuff… And I don’t feel like sharing now with the big vast internet. Most of it is a mess. Rather than nondescript ‘N’, I made Specific ‘N’, as in 16N, a project on hiatus. Had thought about doing a virtual version, but that’s just… anti-thematic to ‘N’. So I’ll just wait until I feel like it. If at all.
But what is the point of Papers you ask ? To help people realize their own projects. I think a lot of people stall [deleted]…. done; at least, that’s what I’ve seen. So I like to give people structure—a scaffolding—something to build onto. A formal form. I know how to do this, because of my past life in architecture and journalism and design and moving around the world on my two feet.
And I can point to things, say, ‘Why not try…’
If it didn’t, why would anyone join, anything, ever, that I do? Yet I really love that there are 600+ people in our FB community (sorry I haven’t been putting anything there, ever), or some 300 some on Instagram (ditto). Meaning… there are people around or who used to be around who wanted to know how DK could help.. them… accomplish stuff? I think… for me, that’s it. I make Papers to keep some conversations going, sure, but also, to help people figure out how to figure things out.
So those people (and I do invite quite carefully, mind), can get places… so they can… ‘Break on Through!’…
Speaking of breakthroughs
Because I certainly have, using these methods, in my own work here at DK and at other things I’m up to, too. Yeah, and so, given all that, I’m ready to include a few more voices for July.
Anyone who applies *today* will get a free copy of this week’s issue of S P C.
It launches today !
HT Michael Bridgett, Jr. Working with MB is a great pleasure for us, as always. And it starts with things like Papers, to get the ball rolling on getting more and more deep into these layers of connexion. We are filtering all he time, based on.. sincerity! What else matters, lol.
For the very curious...
Next up, is June’s ‘Papers.’
On deck, is June’s edition of co-creating in the cloud. Making fresh, new and fun conversations *happen*. In S P A C E. We’re planning these, for example, in June..
- Calling for applications for just 2 spots.
- We’ll start 2 June.
- Apply here: http://designkompany.com/apply
This one is from one of our favorite spots.
Photography by Boss. Poetry by Dipika Kohli. They are a tag-team at DK for most of our zines from Southeast Asia 2018-2020. And one, I might add, that loves to celebrate search, query, and inquiry. In other words, asking more questions than seeking answers.
Here’s a link.
A year ago at this time, DK was getting set to jet set from Bangkok to Rīga.
Art nouveau, for one. Conversations, for another.
Put them together, and you get… This. This week, S P C | Rīga, ‘This is This’.
Cover art is by Nils don Sihvola. (Discover his emotive digital photography works at instagram @nils_don_sihvola.)
Writing and inside graphic art is by Dipika Kohli.
It’s members-only, this one.
Start your subscription and learn more about the issue at the link.
Here’s the link.
S P C | Bangkok, ‘The Age of Anxiety’ mixes in some new photography from Bangkok by Dipika Kohli, along with some internet images like the cover shot… stuff that seemed to ‘go’ with the theme.
Because some pictures come from the internet, there’s a feeling of looseness and detachedness that happens naturally in this age of digital communication. Not that we’re experts at that; most of the time it’s just impressions. But there was a breakfast conversation DK overheard that got us thinking, ‘Wow. Is it really this bad?’
It seems that it is.
Where is connection?
The lead story for this is ‘Here Comes the Dance,’ by Dipika Kohli, created at Atelier S P A C E | Battambang in Sept. 2017, kicking off this series and setting our intention for the magazine, too.
Today, we share S P C | BKK, ‘The Age of Anxiety.’
Order S P C | BKK, ‘The Age of Anxiety’
This is a members-only edition of S P C.
Start your subscription when you order this issue.
Here’s a link.
Naming, brand identity design, and showing up to make space—quality space—for the process of people who want to discover somethign new, together, is what we did for NUK Cafe. This was 2014. DK had just opened up our doors in Phnom Penh for business, and this was our first gig.
Since then, five years’ experience of living and learning here in Phnom Penh has given us a chance to flex our creative and intellectual muscles. We’ve gotten into very different kinds of projects, since moving away from typical brand identity deign. Still, I think it’s important to share the jo gurney, and how we got to where we are from where we stated. This post is part of a series of updates to our portfolio.
Discovery, networking, change, and reinvention has led us through a wide set of experiences.
Journeys that, for better or worse, taught us some important lessons. I’ll just leave it at that. It’s a long story.
A new DK portfolio
Really enjoyed the NUK project.
Sharing as I go, now, since DK’s going to open again for design commissions from February 2020. That’s a lot of stuff to anticipate, for DK, but the short story is this. We’ve done things, we’ve been places. We’ve learned. We have more to do.
The work is the work, not the pretty pixels you see at the end of hte design process. If learning by doing and seeing how we get from a blank page and zero idea of what to do towards the finished things, which almost always are a 100% co-created set of designs (yes, we hand you pencils sometimes, and get to work together!), then yeah. Get in touch. This is the place to do that.
We’re really only interested in working with business owners who have 5+ years’ experience. For those interested in solopreneurship or personal branding, perhaps try our 8-week workshop, The Mirror, instead of our heavy-hitting journey of brand identity design for DK (which is also waaaayyy more expensive.) It’s not for everyone. (Still, there are 1 out of every 100 people who ‘get’ us, our approach, and see that there’s value in doing it right the first time, even if that means going through the hard question-asking series of things that we will ask of our clients. Apply to be a part of DK’s brand identity design programs from February. Apply here.)
The original post about the story of how we came to make this design for a cafe in Phnom Penh back in 2014, is below.
Phnom Penh. DK had just arrived to Cambodia.
‘Never imagined we’d stay five years:’ DK.
Emergence, innovation, change: Inventing as we go
Design. Making meaning out of vague and abstract collections of thought. Streamling and clarifying…
I still remember when we did this, for the NUK Cafe, which we named and branded back in 2014.
That was DK’s first gig in Cambodia.
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.
It makes me happy.
Funny, all that drawing of the ‘N’ and exploring it led to the birth of something completely different.
Things. Turn into things. Don’t they?
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*?
Conversations 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.
Min 2. Max 10.
WHAT YOU’LL GET. DK will share very short introductions to design and lateral thinking methods, including:
- Grice’s ‘Maxims of Conversation’
- Six Thinking Hats, a method of opening dialogue.
- The Open Space Technologies how-to.
This mini-conversation 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.’
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…
TODAY WE ARE SHARING the last of the 12-week set of zines in the S P A C E | Winter 2018-19 collection, ‘A Philosophy of the Moment.’ This was created with new and different others in our digital zine project, S P A C E. The last zine in this set is S P A C E | Malmö, ‘Vakt.’
A new series, S P A C E | Spring 2019, ‘The Book of New things,’ is set to begin on 5 March. This is thanks to crowdfunding support. No ads. 100% member-supported. No endorsements, no BS. Learn more about S P A C E and how to subscribe, as well as see our schedule of upcoming issues to be co-created in S P A C E through June, at our crowdfunding page, here.
S P A C E | Malmö, ‘Vakt’
‘Trust the process’
Special thanks to Joji Minatogawa, a very creative person and an architect. I just added him to our contact page under ‘mentors,’ after clearing it first with him over the phone. I really am glad we can still call around the world and see what people are up to, and let them know that we are still here, still curious, still interested, and very much appreciative of the old conversations that went places. Because now, together, here we are. Some of us are still at it: asking the big questions. Questing one another, and the ideas that might come out for a very special, very quiet, very intimate sort of dance. Now, learning to quietly add the right bits and take out the wrong ones, until further getting that good stuff, the good stuff that’s left. Refinement. I am noticing, reading, listening, and still curious. Thanks for the conversations so far. It’s getting really good, now.
‘Design is making meaning. Art is making connexion:’ A. Spaice
Feature photo: ‘Internet I Hate You’ popup installation by Dipika Kohli, at Noir Kaffekultur in Malmoe, November 2015
Order the zine…
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.
By invitation only. Details here.