Dear reader,

Please come sit with us. We’ll confide something to you. I am Gijs, and as the host of this month’s newsletter, let me start.

Le confident by Napoleon III

Tower decoration

I find writing a newsletter hard. It seduces me to write in a particular confident mode of sharing my achievements, which makes me feel distant from you. I may decorate my tower with beautiful flags of my achievements and then take a seat with myself.

I want to feel connected with a Field, which Silvio Lorusso describes as a “space inhabited by a series of connected communities of practice,” which Wikipedia explains as groups of people who "share a concern or a passion for something they do and learn how to do it better as they interact regularly.” Great. Yet tower-decoration-mode feels more like reproducing an Arena of competition than building a Field of connection with other practitioners.

Professional intimacy

    I read a phrase from Ben's blog that captured what I want: “cultivating some sort of intimacy.” Can this newsletter be a place for professional intimacy?

    What I like about our studio space is that it is a kind of private audience, somewhere in between the privacy of one’s house and the publicity of a stage. It allows me to share things intimately without being seduced to present too rosy a picture. If I would, you’d probably laugh. Private-public seems to work in a different logic.


      The word confidence comes from trusting (’fidere’). However, ‘con-’ refers not to ‘with, together,’ but to ‘firmness’. Having confidence is to firmly trust oneself. Perfect for tower decoration.

      Professional intimacy requires something more. Sharing my concerns means I need to place trust in you. You become a confidant, one to confide things to. This requires a different firmness of trust. Let’s call it confidance.

      Le confident by Salvador Dalí

      A private-public setting rewards confidance, but how can this newsletter cultivate confidance?

      I think of the GTBT radio of my studio mates; which often manages to comfort guests into private-public chats while being broadcasted publicly. I also think of a particular model of chair (I encountered through Le Grand Jäger). And I think of my teaching experiences.

      Ego Design

        In the workshops I've been doing with the second year Critical Inquiry Lab students (S/O!), I sometimes get touched by a strong sense of intimacy within the group. Or probably, their confidance.

        If you allow me some tower decoration – the format started from a tendency to read grad projects as self portraits: ways of dealing with and expressing personal struggles and conflicted desires. In Ego Design workshops we've been exploring how facing this aspect of a critical project could help make it more empathic, situated and accessible.

        I wonder if such ‘self-intimacy’ may help to be professionally intimate.* If a sense of grounding with your project makes it is easier to welcome others.

        *When Silvio Lorusso describes the Field, it’s an antidote to a tendency in design schools to start from the personal that he calls "design intimism," as this may only increase isolation. I hope that when you look deep enough you end up at shared conditions. Seeing the world in a navel; finding the field through ego?

        Our confidance setup

        Le confident by Extra Practice

        The script

          So for this newsletter, I took the opportunity to finally try out some ego design with the studio. We did a small workshop to find out how we were each emotionally involved in our most autonomous projects. This is the simplified script, so you can follow what follows below (and try it yourself):

          1. Identify the topic you are looking at.
          2. Pick an image of something that bothers you in this topic, and circle what bothers you most.
          3. Identify your fear and desire implicit in the bothering.
          4. Identify the counterdesire behind the thing that bothers you.
          5. Formulate a question of how to deal with the tension between desire and counterdesire in your project.
          6. Draw yourself in the image trying to deal with this tension.

          Enjoy, and we’re happy to hear from you confidants if you have thoughts, feels, references, criticism to share. And yes there is also a flag tower section at the bottom with announcements and achievements!