vrijdag 29 juli 2011


I read a figure to think about. In their short essay yesterday in Trouw Cecilia Malstrom and Antonio Guterres, members of the European Commission, mentioned that in the European Union 74.000 refugees are given shelter. In Kenia's Dabaab the number of refugees is 400.000. How can there be complaint about so-called 'mass immigration' in Europe ? Read these figures again.....
And know that a refugee is a human being in need. Especially now in the Horn of Africa.
Jeffrey Sachs said in The Guardian:
The Horn of Africa is the world's most vulnerable region, beset by extreme poverty, hunger and global climate change, notably a drying and warming of the climate during the past quarter century. These scourges are leading to the spread of violence and war, and war is contributing to global instability. Unless we confront the challenges of the Horn of Africa at their root causes – the poverty and vulnerability of pastoralist and agro-pastoralist populations – we will face burgeoning violence in the Horn of Africa, Yemen and beyond. The world would be gravely endangered and the trillions of dollars that would eventually be spent on military responses would prove useless to stem to unrest. Hunger cannot be overcome with violence.
Besides working on a long-term solution we need to act NOW. So don't think your gift is unnecessary, it's very valuable. Donate!

This is the current drought in Somalia, part of the famine problem.

donderdag 28 juli 2011


Also in Antwerp; a shop with an interesting concept. In their statement they raise all the questions that matter in today's design.
However we also need to ask ourselves: do we really need this? How does it add to our daily life rather than just fill our home?
I train myself to be very critical, and it's interesting to discuss this issue with others. For occasionally we can treat ourselves to something beautiful or nice. And we don't have to be a hero every day. Just reconsider every now and then: what do I really need?

zaterdag 23 juli 2011


Yesterday I was in Antwerp with friends. We visited the knitwear exhibition in the fabulous Momu; the fashion museum in this lovely city. I always like their exhibition design. This one is beautiful as well. Through history and through use of material knitwear is unraveled. I much liked the old stockings; so delicate! Historic fashion is combined with today's design from Margiela, Rykiel, Missoni and Yamamoto a.o. Style, technique and colour is abundantly visualised as well as influences of society.
We liked!

maandag 18 juli 2011


Country, the beautiful book by designer Jasper Conran is a celebration of rural life. He spent a year travelling around the English countryside where he documented traditions, nature, gardens and stories. In an interview Conran said:
The countryside belongs to all of us, or rather I should say, it belongs to none of us. It is merely entrusted to our keeping, to be tended, watered, nurtured and handed on to the following generations in good condition. We need to cherish it.
He also writes about how much he loves seasons. That in the country the seasons are felt in the unfolding of each day. Well, the summer right at this moment doesn't feel like summer at all so you would almost forget about that season-feeling. Rain, storm and the occasional clear moment. But this is part of summer as well, so he is right. We all have chilhood memories both of hot sunny days as well as days like these now. And nature is lush and green at the moment. And there are still lots of camomile flowers to pick and be stars on my table...

woensdag 13 juli 2011

Amartya Sen

Currently I'm reading Development as Freedom by Amartya Sen, the Nobel-prize winning economist. It's a book from 1999, but a real classic so still an important read. In chapter 8 he writes about the importance of development of women. Something closely related to what I try to do in Malawi through my colleagues at the foundation and with the local women. Their empowerment and development influences the whole social structure around them. It gives them a voice, and not just that. Health, child care, decision making in the family and around the family, education levels of the whole family, improved food access etcetera.
Sen writes:
These different aspects (women's earning power, economic role outside the family, literacy and education, property rights and so on) may at first sight appear to be rather diverse and disparate. But what they all have in common is their positive contribution in adding force to women's voice and agency- through independence and empowerment. For example, working outside the house and earning an income tend to have a clear impact on enhancing the social standard of a woman in the household and in society.

All this is very important for a sustainable, equal future.

dinsdag 12 juli 2011

Still Life

Treasures I found while travelling in Scotland, displayed in my window frame.
The striking resemblance between the lobster shells and the ladies' dresses on the photo; is that historic design thinking or just coincidence?

donderdag 7 juli 2011

Ma Ke

The V&A is one of my favourite museums in London. Here's their fashion curator Oriole Cullen at an event in 2009:
Today's Fashion in Motion is by Ma Ke whose clothes are on display in our China Design Now exhibition which is currently showing in the temporary exhibitions space. We really wanted to tie in with that and showcase some of the emerging designers coming from China.

Ma Ke is a very well established designer in China. Her brand, Exception de Mixmind, is one of China's most popular brands. In 2006 she set up Wuyong, her artistic label. Wuyong means 'useless'. The idea behind the brand is that Ma Ke looks at objects which are discarded, sometimes regarded as useless by people, and then takes a different viewpoint and fashions them into some of the amazing clothes that we have seen here today. So, for instance, the idea of recycling an old tarpaulin or a paint-splashed sheet or ripped, ragged clothing and creating something new from that.

So the message really that's coming across is sustainability in fashion. Also very much about the individual's point of view, and that's something that Ma Ke really values.

So the idea of sustainability, ethical fashion, is very much in the headlines at the moment. It's something that the Museum has been engaging with and so we were delighted to be able to welcome Ma ke here today for this event.

The usual format for Fashion in Motion is a catwalk show in the Raphael Gallery space and the audience is seated either side of a long runway, but for this show, obviously, we've really departed from that. So we've taken a bit of a gamble, in the sense that it's audience that are in motion, but the idea of showing fashion on a live, breathing model is still there; that's inherent in the display, although the models themselves aren't moving.

I find the work of Ma Ke very inspiring. Ma Ke has an original voice, and a skill to make the ordinary into something special. The ugly into something beautiful even. The sense of craft is very strong in her work. We have to look around us and see what we really need, what we can re-use. It doesn't have to look unfashionable; it can also look like couture!

dinsdag 5 juli 2011

Zissisnotaglossy #5

Today in Athenaeum Nieuwscentrum the fifth issue of this photo paper by Serge-Henri Valcke. He himself is, next to being a well respected actor, a very good photographer who has an eye for beauty in decay. His reportages are colourful and sometimes funny but there is also a certain sadness in them. There is so much ugliness that it becomes very beautiful indeed.
This issue's 'red carpet' is for Lucas Hillen, a recently Rietveld-graduate and for myself. I'm very honoured to being in this issue with rather contrasting photo's.

maandag 4 juli 2011


Leafing through my Harris & Lewis diary of 7 years ago I came across this lyric I scribbled down while at an exhibition. From the Scottish band Runrig whose texts are their own combined with local songs from the past. This one is a perfect description of the relation between thoughts and place. I took the photo on Barra, having climbed to Heaval, the highest hill, and facing south towards the uninhabited islands.

I'm lifted where I stand
On the never ending land
I'm coming to a sense of home

Standing in the face of the gale
A raging night on the island

Sundown on barren words
That can't describe
Your island paradise

All questions and answers
Flowing down the river
To the ocean

As Catherine Duncan wrote in her preface to Paul Strands' book about the Hebrides: "There is a moment of reflection, a sudden stillness when everything stands on the edge of discovery. For those who live them such moments are outside time, when the view is detached from the surface of things and restores to them their essential meaning."
Outside time- moments; a beautiful expression of a real experience.