N: ‘NOTICING’

The 16-way big blind date. Is still. Getting. Organized. Who knew?

I thought I was done with ‘N’ for a while. I thought I had these rules around it: the old page for it and my best attempt to share the story so far, is here. (I had some other side sites going to “document the journey,” or whatever, but that became tiring. People wanted me to do that kind of thing, because they said it would be good, so sure, I was new at experience design project S P A C E jam stuff, back then,  so I tried to do it their way.) Kind of went like this:

Them: ‘You need to explain it, DK. Don’t you have pictures? So they can see what it’s going to be like? You have to sell it to them.’

Me: ‘WTF, it’s art. You don’t explain art. You experience it. Then you decide for yourself what it means.’

‘…’

‘…’

‘That’s going to be a hard thing to pull off.’

‘So? I want to do it like this or not at all! I’m looking for the people who are looking for… me.’

‘……’

‘Why am I even.. asking you? Gosh. You’re just not. Getting this, are you. F, f, f.’

‘Maybe I’m not that clever enough…’

‘…’

‘…’

‘You want to be spoon-fed or something?’

‘Yes! Tell it to me like–‘

No.’

UNDOCUMENTED. So mostly, there are no pictures. I think it gets in the way of the intimacy of the space. I do have one 16-persons-in-a-pic ‘N’ selfie. I did take a few shots in Phnom Penh and London, because, wow, it was just… beautiful to have the whole 16-way blind date idea in real life and so yeah, documented those but they’re like not that great of pictures because, iPad?, and also, dark. So? I have them. I have the memories, though, and I cherish those far, far more. I don’t have to share them anywhere. So yeah. I didn’t keep up with the whole side site journal documenting thing. Things like that to ‘maintain buzz’ and ‘include people who couldn’t be there’ got to the point where the mood to do that just… ended. So I casually was okay with it if I forgot the passwords or maintaining it got too hard and I just… let it go. These things happen, too. I said, after ‘N’ Penang: NOSTALGIA, that I was done for a while. That I would take a break.

But, then… I fell in love with a venue. Yeah, I did.

It just has that vibe.

It’s perfect, for ‘N’.

Yup, I found a crazy cool venue, with an ‘N’ in its name, in a city that has an ‘N’ in it, and *these are among the criteria* that I look for when I choose to throw an ‘N’ party. An ‘N’ party is a big blind date where 16 people show up to meet each other, in real life, to talk about a topic that starts with… guess what letter!

So yeah. I’m here, and I’m starting to go through the old conversations in old emails and seeing who might like to be part of ‘N’ in the secret city where I am going to be when it might happen. Yes! I am going to decide later! I am going to leave it open, for now. I am going to confirm, when I feel like it, when it’s closer to then, if it is happening or not. (To everyone, that is, who isn’t already ‘in’ on the conversations, where we confirm stuff and send agendas and meetpoints and homework. Not everyone needs to know. So I’ll be vague and casual and noncommittal with anyone who is not, of course, actually saying ‘yes’ to my direct invitation. If you just got email from me, this is the jam.

The hosting of an ‘N’

The people who come are the right people. The things that happen are the only things that could have. It starts when it starts (but we’ll probably say 7PM), and it’s over when it’s over (this can last years), and the last thing is, if you’re not having a good time or learning something, you can leave. That’s ‘the law of two feet.’ I didn’t make these up; these are the basic frame making rules of what’s called Open Space Technology, HT MC, who left the book Open Space Technologies on purpose for the random passerby to find it, in her cafe in Battambang, where said passerby (yours truly, DK) chanced to go (solo trip! Battambang 2014!!) and see it, read it, and begin to host everything in Open Space style, from that point on.

So… Who got my email? Email me back and I’ll send the next e-note in that sequence. I wrote it in 2014, but it still fits the mood of this cookie, and I’m ready to do an ‘N’ jam, again, with 16 people who are going to like what they see when they read this invitation and follow through the links.

Are you there, curious, reading, listening, and wondering? People have come from out of the city and out of the country to join ‘N’, so please get in touch if you are resonating with this. We’re looking for you, if yes. If you got the invite and said ‘no,’ that’s cool, really, it is, but, um, no way ever am I going to ‘keep you updated on future things!!’

‘N’ is a filter, for me. What kind of people say ‘yes’ to this wacky, crazy invitation to show up in real life for something that you don’t even know what it is yet?

My kind of people.

S P A C E kind of people.

Artful, curious, and ready-for-the-things people.

With that set, there’s no way that you can go wrong, as a host. Because the people who come, like Open Space says, are the right people. Guess what? We don’t care how popular or good-looking or smart or rich you are. We just want you to want to be part of it. That’s it. That’s the whole thing, the center of it. ‘N’ quests you.

Agile. Agile design, agile publishing, and agile ‘N’.

This is how we roll.

Comments are open for a bit, in case someone wants to say something about all this ? Email also open. The new new address, not the old new address. Tx.

‘N’ London: NOTEWORTHINESS ticket, 2015

Issue #57, S P C | Phnom Penh, ‘Saturday’

The science fiction series, ‘Uncertainty’, by A. Spaice continues this week with S P C | Phnom Penh, ‘Saturday,’ a fresh zine with a surprisingly light-on-the-eye set of vector images. They’re made by Dipika Kohli.

‘…’

‘Can we play monopoly?’

‘Not right now.’

‘…’

‘I have to fix a typo, right on the front page.’

‘…’

‘It said science nonfiction, which, you know. It can’t be. Either it’s science fiction, which it is, or it’s nonfiction.’

‘Science nonfiction, well. That would be like, if you go to the moon, and there are aliens waiting for you.’

‘…’

 

Science fictions

Discovering how to write in a different way (third-person) is part of DK’s new directions for 2020. We’re talking about it a lot in different places, but lightly, quietly and in just a very small inner circle. I can’t share where it’s going yet but I can tell you how it began. A writer’s workshop in southwest Ireland. Impersonating the instructor, kind of on a whim, in a surprising, unexpected move that we now understand is the hallmark of everything DK. Short. Sweet. And a little bit… wacky.

‘Wacky? What is this word?’ (This was at a new bar, about to change its name, in Aarhus, circa 2015).

‘Wacky? Well…’

*googles*

‘See? What I meant was–‘

‘–WACKY. That’s it!! That’s the name for our new bar!!!’

‘Um, well, it’s not exactly–‘

‘WACKY !!!!’

‘…’

Wacky.’

 

***

 

I think, one who might be watching for a while the progressions of DK’s creative work, which has not been shared here much but is coming through loud and clear in this week’s zine, might simply recognize ‘Saturday’ as a natural step in the movement towards something tighter, clearer and of its own ilk.

Which, of course, we think is the point of making all this time, to see what might emerge. It’s a long story. [Deleted].

‘Just another thing in the evolution of D,’ as KE had once put it. Stars. Fractals. Chaos… those were their conversation topics, along with terrible jokes that no one else would laugh at besides KE and DK.

Catch a glimmer of a hint of what’s to come with S P C this year when you get this week’s issue.

S P C | Phnom Penh, ‘Saturday.’

;)

Here’s a link.

http://gum.co/space-pp-saturday

Issue #55, S P A C E | Portland, ‘Found & Lost’

‘Static on the Line’ is the lead story, this week in a continuing series called ‘Uncertainty’ by A. Spaice.

More mix-it-up style illustration, too, by DK’ creative director, Dipika Kohli.

It’s available for members of S P A C E, only.

So far, 4 issues have been published in our zine series on ‘Uncertainty’.

They are:

  • S P C | London, ‘A Walk in Regent’s Park’
  • S P C | Copenhagen, ‘Nearness’
  • S P C | Skåne, ‘E. K. Vera’
  • And this week’s.

Download your copy, and at the same time set up your weekly subscription, here.

Order S P A C E | Portland, ‘Found and Lost’

Registration window opens for Interactive Papers Project 2020

Conversations are emerging over our real life and online programs designed to gather, in very small circles, new and different others for conversations that go places. Sometimes, literally. Our workshops in 2019 were held in: Hanoi, Dalai, Hue, Riga, Tokyo, Mito, Bangkok, and Kuala Lumpur. We’re circling a very few into the new 2020 spaces for IPP. Three-month membership is available, for just 4. This is for people who are already well underway with a creative project and looking for guidance in project management, feedback editorially, and creative consulting going forward with an exploratory approach that’s a signature of our work, at DK. Application required. Apply here.

Brand identity design: Capitol Hill Chamber of Commerce, circa 2006

One of the first gigs we had at Design Kompany was for the rebrand of the Capitol Hill Chamber of Commerce, back in 2006. CHCC, according to this neighborhood website, has since closed.

 

Time, design

Akira Morita took the lead for DK on this design, working with me on it, and through that process, discovering as we went, with our clients, what the goal would be for the image-making. In other words, its concept.

Concepting well means a lot of talking. About why.

And that’s not always easy, especially when a group is just forming.

Being based in Seattle, the ‘how we go about this’ was heavily influenced, naturally, by agile methods. You try, you test, you see, you rework. We started sketching a lot, presenting in pencil, not overworking or over designing, and continuing to develop ideas until something was feeling right—and not just for one or two people, we all know what I’m talking about here, but the collective group. The whole.

Timing is everything, sometimes. We were there, in Seattle, after Ireland, at that exact time when the Capitol Hill Chamber of Commerce was just getting started. Just. Like. Us. DK had a new office, a storefront one, and right up the street from us, a few blocks over, in the same neighborhood, was the CHCC.

‘Let’s play’

Our office on E. Olive Way was base for DK for about a year, which was very visible on its streetfront, and, as such, quite easy for people to discover us.

Then we moved to our apartment, and later, up the hill, past 15th, a few blocks down from WET and Fuel. Many en evening would I spend at the Washington Ensemble Theater. Perhaps another indication that one day, I’d be writing mini plays and springing them on people in unexpected cafe, restaurants, eaters, and other people’s literary events. Anyway, after Olive Way and the other place and some other stuff that took place in between, DK shifted to a house by a park with a tennis court and playground.

We called it Kornerhaus.

There, we kept our PLAY going.

Akira Morita made the PLAY piece pictured on the wall // Photo by DK Seattle 2008

The spaces where we most got a kick out of gathering with our clients also worked well for making parties.

Sugar, Pop, Dazzle, Flourish, and Gather, to name a few. (Some people who are reading this blog may recall it…)

Yes, we’re still DK.

Yes we’re still at it.

Making things, not always design the way we used to design,  because that was then, and this is now. It’s experiences that we are specifying bounds and briefs for now, experiences for people to gather and share. Meaningfully, not trivially. At least, that’s what it was from 2013-2019. Next is next.

Content matters, to us. Much more than ‘logos’ or ‘looks.’ It’s getting people together, still, mixing it up if we can. Importantly, as always, in ways that invite the new and curious, which precipitates that magic thing of self-discovery, too, along the way.

Designs, and even life decisions, from these openings, somehow make themselves.

 

Shifts

Six years in Capitol Hill… intriguing to see how much the place changed, in our journey there, with it.

Looking around on the web, it’s cool to see that the CHCC had used our design right up until the end of their days, more than a decade after we created it.

Longevity.

I like that.

Progression and playfulness with the ideas… looking back, I see it’s a common thread, with our design works. We want to always leave room for interpretation, so the in-house designers can play with an idea, too, make it a little bit their own, and breathe new life into it, when the time calls for that.

Shifting, poetically but also purposefully.

Like any relationship, things change.

But how you allow for growth–that’s the key to sticking-with-it-ness.

All of that…

To say….

The beginning was a fun thing. I remember it.

This design came into being. A concept…

A brand identity scheme, with colors, and this logo…

The year after Akira and I finalized it, handing off the CD with final files (yes, I said ‘CD’), I went by to see how things were going. Smalltalk and the like. They were happy with it. Like many other designs that came after, people were responding. Clients smiled. People enjoyed the connexion. And the image–the connexion-making start point–made it begin to begin. Relationships, after all, have to start from something.

We soon started getting known a little bit around Seattle, I think. Mostly for our ‘clean, modern’ design style (winning new gigs, mostly for architects, after that).

Here are the business cards (photo by Victor Ng):

Was interesting.

Was simple.

Was… one ending, for a chapter, for us.

On this blog, back in the late 2000s and for some time after, I used to go through and write down all of everything that we did for everyone. A whole bunch of text, yeah, you thought this was long. And pictures.

A bunch of, say, process pictures, or the mood boards we made, even in-progress pictures. I blogged it all.

Reason is, I think, because I value transparency. Showing the process. And encouraging conversation, throughout. Even with people on the sidelines, or just watching, or walking by our office to peek through the window, to say, ‘What’s that?’

Maybe the chance encounter will invite a fascinating insight.

You just never know.

I continue to invite and connect people, to our programs, projects, and real life salons, to this very day, wherever I am. Reflecting. Hm.

Now, I wanted to push the envelope.

Again.

 

New beginnings

So that’s why, in February 2020, DK is opening again for graphic design and communication design commissions.

Remote. In person ( I can tell you where we’ll be)…

Get in touch.

‘Design is making meaning’

Akira Morita‘s old portfolio page on Behance has more about the work we were doing around the time of the Chamber, if you are curious, while we were in Seattle in the early 2000s.

Meantime, since then, we’ve been changing and growing quite a lot. But, while iterating, DK’s core team of Akira and me, along with a handful of coming-and-going teammates and a small circle of collaborators, continue to make headway by discovering, together. Usually by making up projects, and testing them out. In the field. In real life. It’s so great.

Doing this is our work.

Both of ours, separately, as well as here at DK, together.

Spacemaking for discovery. 

In different fields, with different people, and amongst different palettes, backgrounds, storytelling styles, and with new people, too. It’s always evolving, around here.

To keep in touch to find out more, join our mailing list. The mailing list for 2020 is called, ‘New chapters.’

Here’s a link.

Issue #53, S P C | København, ‘Nearness’

Playing with science fiction

A new set of things. A new chapter. A new beginning. And this week’s issue: a fresh new S P C.

I’m a big fan of smart science fiction, the kind that takes you places in your imagination and gives you a chance to think, widely and without regard for practicalities. Like, you know, gravity, or the way we haven’t figured out yet how to travel back and forth in time.

Aside

I remember having a conversation once with a medical school student, about this. It went:

‘But we can’t time travel!’ (Him.)

I go, ‘But how do you know?’

‘…’

‘…’

‘…’

‘It’s not like you know what you don’t know, right?’

‘Well I do!’

‘Um.’

‘I’m finishing my medical school degree, I’ve spent nine years on this and I’m about to finish. I know a lot about how medicine works, now.’

‘Nine years?’

‘Yes.’

‘Nine??’

‘Yes.’

‘Dude. Have you ever heard of opportunity cost?’

*

This kind of conversation is normal for me, or well, it used to be. I was going around and talking to people, quite a lot, in order to find the fodder for much of what is to come now, in S P C. The effort to look in the field for the new and different, however, closed when Atelier S P A C E ended, and I am now working with the very select things (people, stories, ideas) and shaping the fresh new sets of chapters, in S P C. Always iterate, right? We’re going back through the archives, together, me and the team I have, and we’re fleshing out version 9.0 style works-to-come, but only for our members. More about that below.

Be a part of things to come. See what’s what, in S P C.

Order Issue #53, S P C | København, ‘Nearness’ + join S P C

This time, it’s for members only. When you go to the page to order this issue, you’ll also be able to set up your monthly subscription, too. Here’s a link.

http://gum.co/cph-uncertainty

Thanks ;)

 

S P A C E | Kuala Lumpur

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 6.

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.’

LEARN MORE

DipikaKohli.com | Processed Identity | GOOD | UNC-Chapel Hill | ThisBigCity | DesignKompany.com

Project Epicurus

S P A C E | Winter 2019-2020, ‘Project Epicurus’

Co-create with us, in the cloud and in our ‘miniparty’ real life series, too.

S P A C E is for conversations. It’s hosted by DK.

Learn more >

Issue #46: S P A C E | Huế, ‘An Art of the Moment’

The artists gathered for this co-created zine are four very curious people.

Art, natural patterns, and words intertwine in a collaboration between them.

 

The nature of art

Lee Moore Crawford, a floral designer and artist, once struck up a conversation about the Japanese art of ikebana when DK happened upon her arranging flowers at a coffee shop in Durham, NC, circa 2011. We never forgot it.

So when DK collaborated with another creative person who takes inspiration from nature to make the cover image of this issue (Dipika Kohli took the original photograph in Huế, then forwarded it to digital processing artist Nils don Sihvola in Finland), we wanted to ask Crawford what her feelings would be. Lots came of this interaction, including a short piece, ‘Bloom.’

To give the collection continuity, we then circled back to former culture editor Michael Bridgett, Jr., whose article, ‘Why I Art,’ opens yet another fresh perspective.

Order it here.

http://gum.co/space-hue-aotm

Thanks ;)

 

S P A C E | Kuala Lumpur

Popup workshop hosted by DK and friends, in beautiful KL.

Headed to Malaysia once again to gather the new and different, in curious moments, in S P A C E.

Last set of conversations in Malaysia looked like this.

Malaysia

 

Details and registration info: here.

S P A C E | Saigon, ‘Miniparty’

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.

‘Strange Geometries’ is our first invite-only salon on this topic. Min 2. Max 6.

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.
  • A copy of the s eBook, Nostalgia Ca Phe (Kismuth Books)

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.’

Issue #40: S P C | Haapavesi, ‘Proprioception’

Writing a story in the north of Finland

space-haapavesiThis issue. Has taken me more than a year to wrap my heart around. It’s centered around a brief exchange that I had in a blustering white night all-night escapade that began as a foray to Haapavesi. 

‘You go to peculiar places!’ said a writer in Oulu.

Despite my usual antisocial nature, I went. To… Haapavesi.

What I found is wrapped into a short story, which is the lead story for this collection. It, and the issue itself, are called ‘Proprioception.’

It’s a mashup of conversations from Finland over the summer in 2018, as well as more recently, in the cloud. Internet and real clouds… mixing and sharing and discovering and writing. Stories and poems. People give me so much to think about, and, I’m told, I do the same for them. What we discover when we make space to converse is, of course, the whole entire point of S P A C E. So I decided to share that very sweet, summer and lighthearted story today. Starry constellations and jazzy connections, but over karaoke, rounds in bars and ‘filled croissants’ at home.

And who is Soile? Well.

Let me think how to describe this… well, okay, it’s difficult.

Some things are for sharing.

Some things are for folding into art, and publishing, as zines.

Those who are used to my writing and creative nonfiction will not be surprised, but it’s pretty much a combination of three people. Soile… Whom I met on the bus, whom I met at a bar, and whom I met at somewhere I can’t say because this is a public post and not one of the protected ones. [Long stories deleted]

 

Order this issue of S P A C E

Today’s release has a bunch.

  • New graphics.
  • A new short story.
  • Two poems including ‘Step a little closer,’ from 2014, which I wrote about the work of art, mostly, in a collaboration with M.

 

Order here