It’s early, and I’m up, and we are in Bangkok.
The family, that is. Akira, our four year-old son, and me.
We are Design Kompany on the road now, not just “your local Design Kompany,” which was the original way I described us when we were in Seattle. That was 2006. So much has evolved since then, and having a small one about is only one of those things. Getting over the idea that great design means great graphics, that’s another. When you have great design, it only comes as a result of thoughtful, clear thinking and instrospection about what’s really important to you.
After eight years of believing fully in the promise of fulfilling our greatest potential, each and all of us who are alive, we are doing a lot of new things. Instead of an office storefront in Capitol Hill, Seattle, for example, we have a virtual office that consists, at this moment, of an iPad, an iPod, and a wireless keyboard. No more laser printer. No more scanner. No big desktops. And certainly very little work with those softwares that were for so long the equivalent to me of “design.” Namely, InDesign, Photoshop, and… that other one. No, in the last two years we’ve shifted towards paper and pencil, and drawing together at mini-sessions where our clients and our son are present. It’s not a very regular model, for sure. But we traded in our pretense about what it means to be a designer for actually getting down to doing the hard work of real design — the thinking. Read more.
Taking time away from your usual circumstances, including the place where you live, can really change up how you think about things. And that’s the first step of the creative process, isn’t it? To take a step back and shake up everything so that when you see how the bits land on the table, you can assess what’s really important.
The hard part, though, is starting. Embarking on that journey. In a lot of ways, I feel like this new beginning for our small family is a metaphor for living the creative process. To design your life, you have to actually go through that murky territory of not being sure about anything for a while. I was the biggest advocate for doing just that, telling our clients that they had to simply trust that it would all turn out brilliantly in the end even if it wasn’t super easy at the start. Almost all of them did it. Then, when I booked my ticket to Asia, I, too, had to walk the walk.
To get to Viet Nam with my son, just the two of us, and no one else around to help.
To see what that would lead to, whether it was about his education or mine, or maybe something that was nothing at all what I had anticipated.
The road is a great teacher, and yet, it’s also surly at times, and that’s the part that makes it agonizing as well as fruitful. You can’t get to anywhere if you’re always in a comfortable place.
Leaning into uncertainty
As we continue to breathe through this wave of uncertainty, heading to India and loose other data points in Southeast Asia for these next two years, there are a mix of feelings. Like, is this going to be okay? Is this what we really want? Is life really about doing things that are risky, and uncertain, and, let’s face it… hard.
But like I tell the people who’ve picked Design Kompany to find their own stories, I have renewed faith in the three little words.
Trust the process.