At KOKO Labs, we ask ourselves: “How can we bring seemingly conflicting or opposing elements into “battle” with one another in a space where the tension of different perspectives can be used rather than fixed?”. We call it the path towards Conflictual Harmony, and we operate within and between social innovation, community arts, performance, speculative design, organizational change, and design strategy.
KOKO, the cross-eyed chicken that serves as the “northern star” of KOKO Labs, was born out of a different world than what we know to be real, and exists on a plane far ahead of us and our scope of thinking.
KOKO sees the world as a range of social systems – overlapping, messy, complex and in constant interaction with other system – from the point of view of a space in in-between.
When we as human beings react to our increasingly complex, interconnected and polarized world with paralysis, fear, aggression or withdrawal, KOKO simply looks at our human mess with subtle delight, asks with wonder “why do people do what they do?”.
In a KOKO world, polarized positions, disciplinary silos, clashing world views, dysfunctional power relationships and things that simply don´t seem to go together are viewed as trapped energy, with the potential of being unleashed.
In a KOKO world, conflicting and opposing positions that cause us as human beings so much confusion, frustration and pain are the raw material for a truly creative process. A process of growth, mutual discovery and new knowledge.
In a KOKO world, everything is connected. And because everything is connected, it also means that underneath our differences, there lies a dynamic unity or a sort of ground state, what poet Karin Boye called “the trust that creates the world”.
The KOKO approach always involves stepping into a system with full heart and full brain, bringing to the surface underlying norms, assumptions, group dynamics, power structures and identities in any kind of attempt at unleashing energy towards a higher state of being.
According to KOKO logic, to fully understand a system and identify intervention points that get to the core of whatever “knot” one is trying to undue, one needs to navigate and understand both the very personal and experiential and the structural and systemic. One needs to see possibilities and potential in situations as well as in people, nourish that potential, recognize where specific capacities fit into a larger purpose involving a multiplicity of stakeholders.
At KOKO Labs, we move from critical examination into creative direction, develop concrete outcomes and interventions/innovations into existing structures, going from “what is?” to “what if?” to “what works?”. We develop/invent multi-, inter-, and transdisciplinary methodologies in response to disciplinary or institutional “clashes” and social needs, in the process communicating with and creating deeply meaningful and authentic connections between disconnected fields and groups of people.
Our tools and objects of study range from our own beings to the structures and environments around. Our desire is for translation, transcendence, transformation, a world and a social order that moves with its people, its environment, and its own inner potential for life.
Research: In-depth interviews, prototypes-as-research, secondary research, ethnographic explorations of social settings.
Creative expression: Visual art and design, storytelling, scriptwriting, performance art.
Systems thinking + mapping.
Creative Direction, curation, co-design.
Strategy and design for social innovation/ organizational change work.