Take the leap.

Stitch: the community-sourced, dialogue-driven art project starts in Durham

What if we can imagine the future, as a community, and manifest it in a picture? What would it take to make visible all the dreams we each have for our community, so we can start conversations around them?

This is the vision of the Stitch project.

WORDS from the PEOPLE turn into ART that MANIFESTS the community’s VISION.

Many a successful campaigns by communities around the world have taken advantage of the collective vision for their cities/towns. New York City’s brilliant “I ? NY,” made famous by the clever heart-symbol and counterfeit t-shirts (and countless spoofs) everyone brought back from their trip there, comes to mind. Often, it’s a result of someone having a keen sensibility to pick up on the mood of the town, and seize it in the clever wordsmithing. But we don’t have to rely on the genius of one person or an office.

In fact, we can’t afford to.

Durham is going through a tremendous change. Just in the last three years we’ve been back here, the landscapes of our neighborhoods and downtown have dramatically been altered. Not to mention the changes we saw when we first got back to our adopted hometown (Dipika is an alum of NCSSM, Akira lived here for two years after graduating from NCSU), after ten years of absence. Some are great. Some are, mildly put, worrisome.

Many have spoken out about the two Durhams that are emerging. The rich and the poor Durham. The black and the white. The tech-startup and the scrappy mom-and-pop. The new and the old.

From the beginning, Dipika and I have always been interested in the mix of voices.

The world is a beautiful book, but of little use to him who cannot read it.
—Carlo Goldoni, 18th-century Italian playwright

This quote started our twenty-year interest in listening and wandering (international cultures, travels, and dialogue). We started organizing inter-cultural events and lectures on campus and making posters, handbills and t-shirts. Our join venture, Design Kompany, started out as a freelancing graphic design collaboration, grew into a identity design consultancy, and spawned this dialogue-making outfit Orangutan Swing.

We are going back to our roots with Stitch: a community-soursed, dialogue-driven art project. It’s a way to start a conversation. To mix together our sometimes disparate voices, and see what bubbles up.

Most importantly—and this is where Design Kompany pursuit for “full potentiality” comes in—it is a way to manifest community’s vision into visual cues: each interested member of the community puts forward a word and has a hand in selecting from the collection the most interesting, unique, and relevant. We then bring the 50 top voted words to local artists and produce pieces of art with them.

The community will have an opportunity to participate in the conversation, and support our local art scene by purchasing the resulted artworks, completing the virtuous circle that will move the whole community forward. Imagine having a poster on your wall, or wearing a t-shirt, with your word on them. Imagine seeing a tapestry, made through collaboration of community members with the words selected by the community, hung in public spaces. We believe seeing these artworks will have transformative power to Durham. And we can have a lot of fun with it while we are at it!

Going Forward

If successful, we want to bring the STITCH project into many other communities in the world. What we envision is a global dialogue bubbling up among the communities involved over the years. Our plan is to get it to three more places in 2013 in Asia, and three more in 2014, perhaps in Europe.

We will start a Kickstarter campaign in conjunction with STITCH Durham, and part of the proceed will help us get going on this crazy vision.

We are just getting going with the very first steps. Your contribution and participation is vital to the success of STITCH Durham; put in your word if you haven’t done so yet, and we’ll keep you posted on our progress!


  1. Laura Bradshaw says:


  2. Thanks!

  3. Fresh

  4. Akira, this is a really interesting idea. In my own art, I explore bridging the word-image divide, and how to communicate ideas visually. So I look forward to seeing whatever art gets generated by the Durham community.

  5. Encouraging

  6. Hi Anne! I’m excited about what the artists bring to the table, too! We have about a dozen already signed up, and more will join us as we move forward, too. Thanks for commenting!