"I am not only interested in my daughter's life, but also in my mother's life. I want them to hold hands. My awareness will only increase if I live to both ends. It is a shame if we cut off every day what we were yesterday. Because in doing so, we also make unimportant what we do today. In Brabant, parents sometimes say to their children: 'If you want to learn to whistle, you have to eat the crusts of your bread'. This is the subject of one of my first works, Vertelling van kinderen en bathwater from 1985 (printed in 2001 as A tale of children and bathwater; ed.). The inhabitants of a village complain about the hard crusts. This goes so far that the baker decides to make bread without crusts from now on, only making bread with crusts for himself. Years later, a little boy walking through the village is attracted by a special sound. He goes off to
He goes in search of the sound and sees the baker producing it with his lips puffed.
The boy runs to his mother: 'Mum, come! You have to hear this! The baker makes a wonderful sound with his lips. The mother explains that this is called "whistling" and that everyone used to be able to do this when they still ate bread with crusts. In the end, everyone goes back to eating bread with crusts because they really want to be able to whistle.
Moral of the story...
"You don't realise what you are destroying if you don't cherish the past. Look at the invention of the light bulb by Thomas Edison. At the time of innovation, there was a strong interest in moving away from candlelight because it was all risky. Edison wanted controllable, bright light. Then that is put into the hands of engineers and made as perfect as possible. A logical path. In retrospect, you could say that there was very little respect for history and very much faith in the future. With more respect for the past, it could have been decided that instead of a constant light, a lamp would spread a dancing light, for example. Not a dead light but a living, more natural light. I deliberately go back to such moments in time - Lost and found by innovation is what I call that trajectory -, search for such inventions, look back with love and compassion at the incapacity of the past. In hindsight, I can think differently, I have that luxury. As a designer, I don't make objects that save lives - it's not that I make braking systems for Tesla - but that keep our culture moving. There is innovation and there is cultural innovation. We do cultural innovation. And I think that is much more important, because cultural innovation drives innovation. We think and want first, then execute. My kind of designs change the relationship between man and his environment. With the things I make, I give the public a different connection to the built environment. Because people don't like ageing, designers create metaphors about youth and beauty. That baby-face fixation makes everything look like it was just born. I decided not to go along with that. You should just not make things that seem new, not idolise the new. New in itself is not a problem, but it is if it is the most important qualification: then you have a completely unsustainable product. There is no quality that is less durable. New is about now. For a hundred years, new has been the most important quality in our culture. It is the foundation of a disposable culture. We really need to start making new unimportant."
Do you make what your audience wants or what you want?
"I try to make work that says who I am, explains what I want to say, shows my love for the world and meets people's needs. As a little boy, I liked to make gifts for people. I would glue something together for my aunt and give it to her wrapped with a bow. She thought I was the sweetest little man. From an early age, I understood that a good gift has within it that someone feels seen. If it has really been made for someone out of love and with respect, then the person for whom it is intended feels it. Just like my work does. Actually, I make gifts for the world. My work is a celebration of the relationship between me and the world."
MASTERS Magazine #46
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