A Philosophy of the Moment · In real life

Atelier S P A C E | Opening Reception

Opening Reception

Atelier S P A C E | Spring 2021 Collection, ‘Thoải Mái’

Atelier S P A C E is making zines each week. They are designed by our team in Ho Chi Minh City. The concepts for each week’s issue arrive from real-time conversations with the people we discover, on our daily routines, in search of… the new. Find out what it is, and see our Spring 2021 collection. Each zine is part of a limited-edition set of no more than 4 issues, and you can find out what we have been doing and also how you can join us for the Summer 2021 conversations, ahead.

Tickets are VND 150.000.

Max 8.

RSVP to http://designkompany.com/contact

Details from there.

Desk Notes

Hello Seattle

Well, it’s been a while. I’m writing a letter to Seattle. Yes, I do that sometimes. Care about my cities that used to be part of my life; in some way, some important way. Sometimes. This

Design Kompany’s Kornerhaus | Salon for ‘Launch’, Photo: Victor Ng, Seattle 2008

is a picture VN took for us when he was part of our team in Seattle in 2008. It was a salon. I was eavesdropping today on a conversation in a place downtown in Ho Chi Minh City (which is lately where I’m parked), and the word ‘salon’ came up. I swore they were going to talk about hair, but nope, it was salon the way I know salons. Talking. Together. About a topic that matters to all of the people who are there. This is something I love to make space for, S P A C E was born out of those things, those conversations and myriad twists and turns that led us to the cloud to interconnect. SinceI kept moving around, meeting people everywhere, the spaces became more and more international–virtually–from about 2014 til now. I’m still engaging there, but with fewer invitations now than ever. It’s simple this way. Keep it quiet, keep it close to you, personal, and real. Reality. Sincerity. Trust.

These are the things.

Where is LT these days, I wonder? Making lovely portrait photos? I wonder how the whole group of people I knew have found their way, now. Is MA in Seattle or somewhere else now? How about MW? I wonder if she knows how much I appreciated that run to that store to buy that thing for me that time. It was lovely. [deleted]..

‘Home’ is the lead story of today’s issue of S P A C E, by the way. S P A C E | HCMC, ‘Airport.’

Here’s a link.

https://gumroad.com/designkompany#Jtdre

Thanks.

Wherever you go, there you are.

'S' is for Sincerity · Publisher's Diary · Stories · The Muse

Why make S P A C E?

Design Kompany’s first office in Seattle, shared space with one of our our clients D+A Studio. Photos by Laura Totten, this was a setup for ‘Dazzle,’ a show of her work at our space. Great moment. Great memories. // Seattle, 2006

We started this studio, DK, in 2006 in Seattle.

So many changes in the way the internet, and the world, is ‘[deleted]… and DeBord’s Society of the Spectacle has *happened*.

Hijacking real life with portrayals of faked imagery.

[deleted]

That’s why I do this. That’s why, with a few friends, I make S P A C E.

[deleted]…  and why do they do that? Seriously, why? I’ve thought about this. In the era of hijacked reality by the fakers, it’s easier to pretend to be someone *amazing* than it is to… actually *be* amazing. Which means, be who you really are.

 

 

Always listening, questioning..

New angles, new perspectives, new thinking could be found in the places where normally you don’t read about, or go. Like Latvia, or something like that, you know Northern Finland. Or Vietnam, where I am writing from. The next issue of S P A C E (pictured above) will tell you what I found out on my personal journeys in 2018, 2019, and 2020 in those countries talking my way around the world. And I’ll interweave them, in a short dialogue about… conversations with neighbors.

Yeah. Because, well. I talk to everyone. Ysually it’s really boring and I get sleepy. But sometimes… something happens, and you hear a magic quote.

Listening out for this is my gig.

Sure, it’s taken years to find out how to do that. Four years in newspapers, for example, and bunches of listening to many people I meet. This kind of striking-up of conversations takes practice of its own kind. I’m not always into the idea, but sometimes I do it. I met two people like that today (HT A. and T.. have fun on that trip!) And… caring about that effort that goes into you know, what we used to do, writers, field reporting. You go there. You look. You listen. Then you start to write down what you read, feel, hear, and see. Photos, and writings, and more. Seeing seeing. With time. Going slowly. Next stop for me? Dunno. Maybe Hanoi, again. Maybe somewhere new.

Around the turn of 2019 into 2020, I was in Malaysia. I was debating where to go next. Then I moved back to Cambodia. Lots happened and I’m in Vietnam now. I’ve had some time. Time to call up from the old archives some mind maps and other things about ‘what is S P A C E.’ Mostly it’s about doing what feels like the right thing to be doing; wherever I am, at that moment.

Sometimes it’s Soundcloud: I made this thing, ‘Hi2’, at that time, while parked for a moment in Kuala Lumpur. In that city’s borrowed apartment, one of just a dozen or more in the years I’ve been in southeast Asia, I closed my door and typed, real fast. And thought about what I wanted to do, with S P A C E. Who did I want to meet?

A few people.

Who also.

Care about.

What I do.

Hardly anyone, but okay, cool.
From the Soundcloud, ‘Hi2’…
The idea was to show up, see what happens, and make something cool together.
S P A C E probes deeply in order to look for the new…
Meaningfully, not trivially….
How things will go from here is anybody’s guess..
We are awaiting a new chapter…

Let’s make meaning?

Let’s converse

Here’s how..
Desk Notes · Experiments in Expression · Found in the Field · Ideations · Publisher's Diary

‘Festival of the Photocopier 2021’ | ‘Open to zinesters located anywhere in the world’

update: 29 December 2020

Here’s a quick update with some more information that we gathered via email in a conversation with Beck, one of the three coordinators of the Festival of the Photocopier. The three coordinators and twelve volunteers together make this program. Beck told us about the history with the festival and the way it grew. ‘I started visiting Sticky in high school, back in 2002, and when I hit university there was an opening in the volunteer line-up, so I’ve been with Sticky for about 12 years, since 2008!’

 

New opportunities in a virtual setting..

A. Spaice talks with Beck, one of the organizers of Sticky Institute’s Festival of the Photocopier..

A. Spaice: What’s cool about the festival, to you?

Beck: The cool thing about FotP is that the growth has been very organic. Every year we offer the same thing – a free table to sell your zines on – and people come and they sell their zines and make some friends and have a nice time. So the next year when the fair rolls around again, those seasoned individuals want to come back which means we have to add on some new tables for people who have never been a part of the fair before. The community has really made the event what it is, 2020 was our 10th FotP, if no one wanted to come to the zine fair it wouldn’t be a two-day event held across two huge rooms. 2021 FotP will be our first online zine fair so it will be a different kind of fair, but we’re hoping people are as into it as the IRL fair.

A. Spaice: Any opportunities you foresee?

Beck: I think being able to open up the fair to zinesters globally, in a realistic way, has been a really nice side-effect. Normally we’re happy to take applications from people from outside of Melbourne if they’re happy to travel, but travelling from Adelaide or Perth to Melbourne is way more affordable than traveling from New Zealand or Japan.

The further away you are from Melbourne the more expensive that trip gets, so it’s unrealistic to expect people to spend thousands of dollars to attend a two-day event to sell a $2 zine. If they want to, and can afford to make that trip, then we’re extremely happy to have them, but it’s not feasible for a lot of people.

We’re seeing a couple of names we don’t recognise submit applications, so I think we might be getting a few more international entries.

A. Spaice: Yes! That was our situation, exactly! When we applied from Cambodia. I seriously thought about going there [in February 2020] but ike you said, a $2 zine doesn’t cover the cost of flights, and staying there.

Beck: We were glad to hear that you were able to find someone to table for you…! But yeah, we totally get the financial side of it. We get invites from interstate fairs and often it’s a matter of who is available to go and also can afford to? We’re all really aware that you aren’t really making money with zines, you make zines for the love of it, not to turn a huge profit.

So sometimes you can make a go of an out of town zine fair and sometimes you can’t, the good news for Australians is that there are more and more zine fairs popping up all over.

A. Spaice: And… Covid?

Beck: There was no resistance to making the FotP digital in 2021 because of the pandemic situation. As I’m sure you would have seen in the news, Melbourne has been through a pretty intense lockdown this year because of COVID-19, so for us it wasn’t really something that needed to be debated.

Our top priority is the health and safety of our community, so moving the fair online seemed like the best way to keep FotP alive and not have to cancel it or push it back to an undetermined point in the future.

Moving the fair online will also make it more accessible to people who might not have been able to make it down to the physical fair, so in a way it’s allowed us to open up applications to people= who wouldn’t otherwise have been able to participate.

We start planning FotP around September normally, so this year we were doing that while we were still in the hard lockdown here in Melbourne.

With the way things were changing for us at that time, we weren’t sure if we could legally have a 500-person indoor event in February. Even if we could have it, we didn’t know if our state borders would be open, or if the transmission in the community would still be in such a way that no one would want to risk the chance of exposure to come. The good news is that the lockdown worked and Melbourne is well on the way back to regular programming. But we know this isn’t the case everywhere, and that we could hit a third wave and go back into heavy restrictions if something were to go wrong.

It also means that people with physical or health restrictions are able to attend as well as people who are located interstate or overseas who can’t travel.

FotP is the largest zine fair in the southern hemisphere, and while it’s always free to table at the fair we know that if you’re traveling to Melbourne you’ve got those associated costs to cover while you’re in town. fotp.online is removing those costs for a lot of people so they can attend without having to worry about travel and accommodation and everything that goes with it.

Success, for us, would be to see people excited about the digital fair, come to the virtual events we have planned, and return to the site throughout the year to keep checking back in on artists they were interested in!

A. Spaice: Does it cost ?

Beck: The online nature of the event means that it’s literally cost-free for people to sign up from other locations now, so we’re hoping to see a few applications from people a little further out than usual.

All you need to do is visit www.fotp.online to apply!

A. Spaice: Thank you for the time you’ve taken to help us learn more. Is there anything else you’d like to add before we close?

Beck: How do we pay for the fair? We get funding from the City of Melbourne! We were just approved for a two year grant, starting 2021, via the City of Melbourne’s Arts Creative Investment Partnerships so we are both appreciative and grateful to them for their support of us and zine culture!!

A. Spaice: Great! Thanks !!

//

 

A virtual zine fair..

 

We just got this really cool piece of news. The Festival of the Photocopier, which is run by the Melbourne group Sticky Institute, will be online in 2021.

DK had participated in this festival in 2020, which was a cool moment for us as it was our debut with S P A C E in real life. We’ve since also been at the San Francisco Zine Festival, which took place in September of this year, as it was virtual. Was cool. HT MB.

Now, we just learned, Festival of the Photocopier 2021, will be virtual.

So I wanted to let you know about this, because anyone anywhere can join for next time. Very excited about this.

I just submitted my application–sent!

Here’s my idea, for if we are accepted. I am going to angle the next few issues of S P A C E’s December collection, ‘Trust’, to an international audience. Of course they will be co-created with our friends and guests in Atelier S P A C E popups here in HCMC, so look out for some cool new bilingual issues to share in real life here, and also, hopefully, on the virtual international stage at FOTP 2021.

Excited!

So, our agenda for December is this..

  • Discover new voices here in Vietnam to make S P A C E with
  • Design and publish 4 new issues of S P A C E in Vietnamese & English
  • Distribute them virtually to everyone who contributes to our crowdfunding campaign in the month of January.
  • Tell the world about our S P A C E programs in Vietnam if we get selected to participate in Festival of the Photocopier in 2021’s virtual event
  • On the same day as the festival, we’ll host a real life event. A reading. It will be from the issues we make here in HCMC this month. We’ll have an Atelier S P A C E // HCMC launch party. It’ll be a chance to share our printed zines with the friends here who are creative, imaginative, able to think out of the box, and ready to try new things who have helped us so far to make some cool and fun issues already. I have a good feeling about the series to come.

I’m excited about the potential to launch the Atelier S P A C E // HCMC creations at the Festival of the Photocopier in Melbourne next year. Hopefully we’ll get ‘in’ and get to put on a great exhibit for people to see just how unique a hyperlocal perspective on ‘art from Vietnam’ can really look. [Aside: Ask us about ‘decolonization sometime!’. No, wait, ask AD! A zine about that, being art directed by AD, a member of ‘Papers‘.]

Cool.

Here is a pic of our Phnom Penh reading from issues of S P A C E. I hosted this on the same day as our debut at the Festival of the Photocopier 2020:

Atelier S P A C E Phnom Penh did a reading from these zines on the day that  S P A C E debuted at the Festival of the Photocopier 2020 in Melbourne. Was neat. HT NDS & ND.

Memories!… <3

And here’s the bit about how you can apply to be in the Festival of the Photocopier in 2021…..

If you make zines

Apply for the Festival of the Photocopier! It’s free to apply, so I just wanted to share this with those out there who might be wondering if they qualify. If you make zines, you qualify, is my understanding. Here, I’ll just paste in what I got in the email from Sticky Institute earlier this week… 

 

Our digital fair will be hosted at http://www.fotp.online and applications are currently open for stallholders … facilitated by Sticky Institute!!! 

As this is a digital fair, applications are open to zinesters located anywhere in the world. If you have a pen pal located outside of Australia, feel free to forward them the link so they can apply! There is no cost to have a digital stall on fotp.online and the website will be live for at least a year.

This has been a bit of a spiel but we’d really love for you to check out fotp.online and submit an application to be a stallholder or join FotP-Swap!. Applications will close on the 10th of January, 2021 and we don’t want anyone to miss out!

We know this is going to be a very different kind of zine fair but we’re hoping you’ll be there with us, on the other side of the screen!

Stay safe,
Sticky 

Desk Notes · In real life

10 Nov | ‘Start with Something Simple’

This is a conversation salon. A dialogue. A discussion. A conversation in which we have no ‘sides’, but just a ‘center.’ Sharing as we go with those who are open-minded, curious and not seeking to change other people or push an agenda. It’s your chance to relax and discover, together with others who opt-in to join this. Google ‘open space technology’ and learn more about our style of seeking those who find this interesting and wnat to be a part of… something different. Past events we’ve hosted include: Rooftop Philosophy in Phnom Penh, BEAUTY, Self, Choices, and Flow: How to Effortlessly Rise to Your Peak Productivity in Less than 90 Minutes.

WHO IT IS FOR. It is for people who are interested in exploring new ways of thinking, and meeting others searching for new perspectives, too. English-language dialogue hosted by Design Kompany‘s Atelier S P A C E team in HCMC. Come and see what 20 years’ experience discovering concepts for our cleints looks like when we bring that to a living-room setting at a cozy, off-the-main-track cafe with a modern aesthetic. Like we said: new things. Not for everyone.

WHO IS DK. DK is Design Kompany, a boutique studio that bounced around from Seattle to Durham NC to Phnom Penh to…. HCMC. Simply. Exploring. DK publishes a weekly e-mag, S P A C E. It’s about design and discovery.

‘S P A C E quests S P A C E.’

Details: http://designkompany.com/ateliers

‘Thiếu’…

The value of a thing is the amount of life we are willing to trade for it.

Let’s discuss ‘lack,’ or ‘thiếu.’

But softly, quietly, and comfortably.

 

//

Hi.

I hope to find at least 4 people to make this *happen*. If we can, I will do this. I think it’s a big, big topic and worth exploring.

If you think the page is ready to share, I’ll be grateful if you can help me discover some new people to invite…

Here is the detail.
https://www.eventbrite.com/e/thieu-tickets-127583821645

'S' is for Sincerity · Found in the Field · Innovation Consulting + Design Thinking · Publisher's Diary

Dear I

That was cool, getting in touch and sharing, and hearing from you. Thanks! Been fun, conversing as we do, now and then, all this time.

When we met, I was in one of my many, many borrowed rooms assembling this issue of S P C, (left), which was the first of the series from Latvia, Poland, and Slovakia.

So many cool people, and connexions, and conversations happened on those roads, and I was grateful for the opportunity to get there, HT AM!, and to enjoy them. A different world now, right? Difficult to move about so freely. Guess I got lucky, going when I did.

Something told me… why not just go now ? Some timing though, really. Those were places that sort of left quite the impression. I was a little surprised with myself to prepone my trip by like a year (the writers’ residency I’ve been invited to be part of in Ventspils at the International Writers’ and Translators’ House was due to happen in November 2020). Not sure when I can get back for that, or if, so yeah. Glad to have gone and met you and others ! Lucky timing. (HT, another friend whose first initial is I…)

Who knew we would all be dealing with lockdowns in various spots around the world and a pandemic, at this time ?

I’m in Vietnam.

Currently in Vietnam..

Well, here I am, doing exactly the same work as I was when we had met. Good people are around me, here, too, and I’m lucky as heck to get to assemble new writings from their points of view, and images, too, which some have shared (like this cover!), and this time, some cool stuff: spatial organic design. I’ll put together all the credits, for sure, on the day we launch, and share more about each of our contributors, then. ;)

That’ll come out on 30 June, with the issue, ‘Start with Something Simple.’

Always happy to reconnect with you, I.

[Moving the rest of this to a protected-page.. I’ll post it tomorrow. Will send passcode then!]

 

In real life

Reality & Trust

‘Reality & Trust’ will take place in either Hanoi or Ho Chi Minh City, in late June.

What’s real? Who decides? Let’s talk about it, offline.

REALITY & TRUST. What’s real? Who even knows, anymore. But let’s parse it out, in real life, together. The way we consume information now becomes how we read and experience and interact with each other. But I remember a different time. When you would walk into a place and see people like actually live-talking together with facial expressions and eye contact, with no dinging and ringing things in their pockets, just hanging out, maybe telling jokes? without having rehearsed them, hello, why do people do this, or just simply laughing out loud, and not being so overly concerned about ‘reactions.’

This was the other house plant that Susan loved to photograph, when she made her journey to the Northern European climates that offered that oh-so-perfect wan light. Read ALTIY >

 

EVOLUTIONS. In June 2017, I was in Hanoi and hosting a popup installation in real life that was called ‘N’ Hanoi: Narrative.

‘N’ happened in Hanoi on 27 June 2017

There were tickets. Limited seats. And, a *secret location*. Which I shared only after people committed to it. Why? Trust. The idea was, you didn’t quite know what was going to happen but you trusted enough in the concept (or me, if I met you in person) to show up on the day and say, ‘OK. Take me on a journey.’ It was beautiful. There’s even a selfie. Now, here we are in 2020, the exact same month, and let’s move on to Reality. Real life is great, and for me, the best channel for conversation and real connexion. The quality ones that I most enjoy. ‘Make what you wish existed’ is advice I got from Saleem Reshamwala, who has that pinned on his twitter, and I think for me these events are *it*.

HANOI OR SAIGON. Now I’m Vietnam. I have been, since February (guess why!), and I have two weeks left. Shall I come to Hanoi, or Saigon, and host a conversation salon for those of you who are reading this and saying, ‘Yeah, we need to discuss things in real life spaces with people whom we don’t aleady know?’ Right now I am a 12-28-hour bus ride away from either spot. But!, I will go there, if people are ‘on’ for this. I know, right? Random. Yet. I like it this way.

LOCATION. I’ll share the location of ‘Reality’ with registering guests *only*. Min 4. Max 8. Advance bookings only.If 4 people book, I’ll get the night bus from where I am and tell you where ‘Reality’ will be.✨✨✨✨ This event will take place either in Hanoi or Saigon. It just kinda depends on who says ‘yes’ first and confirms with a booking. Min 4. Max 8. Advance bookings only. Old school, keeping it real. Meet other people who appreciate showing-up-ness. Right? Crazy.

Why am I doing it like this? Well, you can read all about ‘N’ if you want a mini-manifesto on ‘The Culture of Maybe’. Note: I’ll refund any tickets 100%, for you if the city you book for isn’t as ‘in’ as the other one. Of course, I’ve also seen people travel for these. Distances like from Paris to London, once, and other times, too, but it’s really because they are already familiar with the kind of jam session DK makes space for. It’s not like anything else. You have to experience it, because I am not posting a ‘sell it to me’ glossy instagrammy piece of junk here. I’m posting… The Invitation…

100 Conversations · Found in the Field · Ideations · In real life · Stories · The Muse

A Q&A with author Michelle L. Stephens: ‘Venturing into the unfamiliar’

[Update: Before Design Kompany became a roving atelier to gather people’s stories on the spot in real life, we were gathering perspectives in our online community, behind protected-pages at this blog. This post was originally an exclusive for a forum, ‘The Village,’ on work, life, and relationships.]

TODAY I INVITE you to read a short email conversation with Michelle Lynn Stephens, a poet I’ve been in touch with since the time we met at a fun open mic. We share roots in Durham, NC, and recently reconnected when I hosted a tweet chat about self-publishing. That opened a space for an entirely new conversation, in which I got to know more about where things have gone for Michelle since we met. Here’s our interview, which took place over email through the spring of 2017. This piece was originally published as an exclusive for our online community, S P A C E.

 

Venturing into the unfamiliar

DK: We talked in our email conversation about journeys. And leaving, and how that can inspire us. Can you talk about this a little bit?

Michelle L. Stephens

MS: How interesting that you should ask this question, as I met you at the beginning of my open mic journey! I am definitely the adventurous type. I love trying new platforms and traveling to different venues. I have met so many wonderful people who have been very supportive and eventually became my creative village.

DK: Can you tell us about what you’ve written, so far?

MS: My book is The Divorcée Chronicles. And I co-authored an anthology, Single Mama Dating Drama.

DK: OK. Besides writing and traveling, I think we also talked about family. And… dating? 

MS: The sequel to Diary of a Divorcée Diva is all about dating, but nowhere near finished. There is a tad bit of dating adventure in the first book and my short story in the anthology is about getting back out there after divorce. The anthology is focused on single mothers, so that may be where you are remembering the parent thing.

DK: But then, there is the massive adventure of parenting right? The ultimate adventure into the unknown? 

MS: Kids are fun and inspiring! The only downside is losing sleep sometimes when they are young and finding courage to let them go off own their own when they are older… While my toddler is my only biological child, I have had a plethora of little ones in my life and don’t feel particularly new to parenting. I have always taken care of children and it feels very natural to me.

My mom tells me that I wanted to do whatever she did with my baby sister, such as feeding her, combing her hair, rocking her and such. I took care of my baby cousin, I have several godchildren who call me ‘Ma’, I volunteered at daycare and after school care programs as a teen… I once had stepchildren who I adored and I take my niece and nephews around with me quite often.

DK: After we met in Durham, where have the journeys taken you?

MS: My circle in Durham encouraged me to share my talents with so many others. I may have been afraid to venture back out after my California dreams faded into the working world, if it were not for my arts experience in Durham. It is a place that embraces and supports the arts tremendously. The path from Durham led me to the next town over, then to major cities like Atlanta, Washington, D.C. and Philadelphia to share my words. I gained the confidence to submit my work to some heavy hitters in African American literature and became a part of a book project that turned into a #1 National Bestseller. My territory is ever increasing and I dream of seeing my work on the big screen someday, but I would also like to remember where I came from and remain a part of the circle that started me on my way.

DK: On your way… to where? Curious.

MS: I have back and forth from the DMV area often, as my significant other takes on mostly government contracts. I love the arts up there as a spectator, but unfortunately have not been able to participate much as an artist. I have no support system there, as far as babysitting goes. There’s always a book festival, library event, or museum to stop by in DC and the scenery is quite inspiring…

DK: Venturing out seems important to you.

MS: I am a firm believer that venturing out into the unfamiliar serves to strengthen your creativity. It opens your eyes to things you have never seen and expands your worldview. I have not traveled as far as you have, but testing the waters up and down the East Coast has been very fulfilling. Even before I began doing poetry and publishing, I was off to California and exploring the performing arts world. I experienced being among the best performers, in the audience of great theaters, in studios, filming for television on Hollywood sets, at casting and modeling agencies and briefly attempted to form a singing duet. My time there was amazing and continues to influence my writing and stage performances today. There is, however, a time for stillness when it is time to gather your thoughts on the page.

DK: Who are your favorite artists?

MS: My favorite artists are two alumni of North Carolina Central University, my late aunt, educator Barbara Tuck Ebron and the incomparable Ernie Barnes, a Durham native.

DK: Art venues?

MS: My favorite museum is the Smithsonian American Art Museum. They have very diverse exhibits with everything from presidents to Native American experiences to African American musicians and writers on grand display.

DK: Can we share an excerpt of one of your books?

MS: Yes…

From The Divorcée Chronicles: Diary of a Divorcée Diva… 

I never felt so free as I did on that flight to LAX. The sky was the limit and I was literally on top the world, looking down on it from Cloud Nine. No one could tell me anything would ever go wrong ever again at that moment in time. After chatting it up with Darren a little bit about my hopes and dreams as always, he suggested that maybe I should look into moving to Cali, too. It would be the perfect place to start a totally new path in life and get away from all my troubles. I daydreamed myself about it right on to sleep.

“Good evening, passengers. This is your Captain speaking. I hope you have enjoyed your flight. We are approaching our destination and fully expect a safe and uneventful landing. Thank you for joining us. Have a good night.”

Waking up to stare out the window at the stuff that dreams are made of was surreal. The view of the Concrete Jungle, with all that water surrounding it, was amazing. I saw nothing but miles and miles of highway and bright lights! I had on my cute little sleeveless cotton dress that was hit just above the knee and got a rude awakening when I stepped onto the tarmac. The cold, sweeping air hit me right in the face.

“Whoa!! How can it be freezing in California in the middle of July?!”

“Kay, this ain’t Cackalacky. Ain’t none of that humidity out here. Don’t you know this is the desert?” Darren was always so thorough in his ex-planation of everything. Always had been, even back in the days when he was trying to tell me why we needed to break up and just be friends.

“You gone love the way it feels outside tomorrow when the sun is out, though. I’m telling you, Kay. The wea-ther is addictive.”

“Ok, I’m just gonna have to trust you on that one ‘cause it’s just freezing my legs off right about now!”

That night as I looked out the 12th-floor window of the hotel at all the lights that put the dark, tree-lined streets back home to shame, I was hooked and my mind was made up. If the rest of Cali was like the view from here, I was gonna call it home and soon.

The next day, Darren and I headed out to paint the town. He was right about the weather being gorgeous and we checked out the usual tourist traps like the Hollywood Walk of Fame and the Chinese Theater, then watched the many talented hopefuls acting out at Venice Beach. We toured the star homes and rode past all the famous places like Roscoe’s Chicken and Waffles, Capitol Records, and the Hollywood sign. We even checked out South Central and in the words of Ice Cube himself, I gotta say it was a good day.

“Tomorrow we’ll go look at the apartments I found online”, Darren said.

“If you decide to move here, you can just find something when you get to town because people move in and out around here all the time. It’s not like back home.”

DK: Thank you! Last question: What’s the best advice you ever got?

MS: Never give up!

16N · Stories

A story in Ha Noi begins: ’16N’

IT IS TIME to go to Viet Nam again.

A lot of conversations in virtual space, lately.

About Ha Noi, and ‘N’, and what that is. And why we’re doing it.

‘You know, if you want people to be interested in what you’re doing, you should show that you are doing it because you get something out of it. That was the number one question I’d gotten, from N in Phnom Penh and Bangkok and in person when I was in London and Copenhagen, too. I wanted to get sixteen people together for a conversation salon, about a topic that would start with an N, and in cities that have N’s in them. That was the criteria. I thought it was a fun game. But you know what people wanted to know?’

‘What?’

‘What’s in it for you, DK?’

‘…’

‘What the heck is the point of it all? Some were more vocal and opinionated than otehrs. But I think the point of it all is very obvious, to me, anyway. And then I find little bits and pieces that other, smarter people have written and posted about how as human beings what we really do well is connect in person, eye-to-eye, and when that happens we can normalize our own ideas about things and we can feel more lively, alive, you know?’

‘…’

‘So I know to some it seemed like a social experiment. I got some really strong hate mail from the Phnom Penh person who professed to be a creative person but was totally irritated with me for trying to ask him to come to something and pay a whopping sixteen bucks… that was the first one, and you know, how in Phnom Penh everyone’s so ketchi, yeah?, Yeah. At first these notes used to make me really cringe inside, like I was doing it wrong. But then… then I found out from the OTHER people, the ‘whynotsayyes’ types, that it was a GOOD thing to be of an opinion. That it MATTERED to take a stand, take a side, and ‘push back on the culture of maybe.’ Oh, I want so much to go into the details here… how it got planned, designed, why I am going to be doing it in Ha Noi, and then back to Europe… Bologna…’

‘But what’s in it for you, DK?’

‘Yeah! I know, right? This is the stuff of living, if you ask me. Being around other people who are interested in big questions, but aren’t getting space to ask them because it’s uncool to talk about metaphysics and cool to talk about [DELETED], which has NO bearing on the quality of my life and has no way of adding to it in any way but seems to be the topic of interest not because it’s interesting but because it’s socially acceptable! MORES, and what’s ‘socially acceptable’ IS NOT WHAT IS GOOD FOR US, most of the time, because what’s SOCIALLY ACCEPTABLE is drudgery and ennui and living in a box of computing and digital messes and head games and disintegration of integrity and flakiness and banality and the Society of the Spectacle and media outlets that are buying up all the spaces so that the good stuff is getting drowned in the sea of irrelevance that Huxley talked about but OH, I can’t get all… I can’t do that… I can’t get all ENNUI and WOE IS US about HUMANITY, did you konw HUMANITY is ending? This month? That next month the theme for S. P. A. C. E. is swithing to KAIROS? It’ll be good for me to get out of this doomy gloomy spot where I think a lot of artists, writers, and scientists were back when they came up with the A-bomb, back when there was all that sadness around the fact that humanity had this thing to it, this streak, the sorrow… Krishnamurti’s eloquent take on it… the sorrow within us, and then that Dao stuff… I did a lot of research for this sequnce, you konw. I might need to put a little paper together summing it up, a PDF. I’ll do that. I’ll make it available to people who join me at N for Ha Noi, how about that. And maybe for the new subscribers to S. P. A. C. E., too. There is good stouff on the tables, for it… I’m looking forward to it… wow. I’m looking forward to the KAIROS. And N! N is about MAKING IT HAPPEN. Kairos. Framing the moment, designing rooms for great dialogue and connection. Celebrating the urgency of NOW.’

‘Dude. That sounds really esoteric and inaccessible.’

‘Well. That’s who I am. And this is the kind of stuff I make. And I am looking for 16 people who want to talk about a topic starting with N in Ha Noi when I get there. We’ll make it up, together. We’ll do this one differently from the other topic-setting ones. I will ask the people who are asking me, WTF is N, DK?’ And we will design it, together.

ARE YOU IN HA NOI? Want to be part of it?

Get ‘N’…


Get N

A Philosophy of the Moment · Experiments in Expression · Stories · The Muse

Naming, concept and brand identity for NUK Cafe in Phnom Penh

Nuk Cafe, Design by DK 2014
Nuk Cafe, Design by DK 2014


Client:
NUK Cafe
Work: Concept, Naming, Brand identity + consulting on interior design
Location: Phnom Penh
Year: 2014

Naming, concepting, and brand identity design. ‘NUK’ came about as a name idea after a series of serious conversations, and a visit to the architectural site. A section towards the back of the first floor seemed well-suited to holing up with a great paperback. That’s how we found our way to the name ‘NUK,’ a play on ‘nook, but minus the visually awkward double ‘o.’

Fewer letters—heck, even just an ‘N’—made for a versatile motif that one could just take in as a total image (that’s what a logo mark is, more than ever, just an impression, not a ‘word’ to be read—who has time to think?). As soon as we presented the name idea to our clients, three people got on cell phones and called friends in Vietnam, Thailand, and even further afield via Line and WhatsApp. ‘How does that sound? Does it mean anything bad? No? Good.’ Nuk fit. Snug.

Many times designers will do what you tell them to do. But you two would not. You would say, ‘No. That’s not a good idea, and we’re not gonna do that.’ That was new. You made us think, and in the end, we got to a stronger design together. Thank you. —Kenneth Hui, NUK Cafe

NUK opened on Street 154, and our clients invited us to sample the ice cream. Last we heard, they’re gearing up to open a second store.