Graphic Exploration of Time in an Overscheduled world

abouttime_muratyan13

“Time defines our relationships, our memories, our dreams and hopes,” according to graphic designer Vahran Muratyan. He writes about it in the introduction of the lovely book ‘About Time’. I got it from my friend Annemijn (“it was about time you guys came back to Amsterdam”, she said;))

The book is a graphic novel that express the universally felt notions of how time both flies by and crawls along, measured in moments and everyday events, in sweeping timelines and mind maps that aim to capture a lifetime of human experiences. This book is stylish, thought-provoking and beautifully produced, warmly recommended!

“Take it, make it, lose it, have it, kill it, spend it, save it, forget it, break it, set it, repeat it, keep it… because only with time can possibility become reality.” Have a wonderful time, reading this book:)!

Exhibition: Aging Dragons

aging dragons New updates available about The Boring City research project (a project I started last year together with architect and friend Inge Goudsmit). After various publications and lectures by Inge in december and january, we were invited to contribute some of our materials to a very exciting exhibition that kicks off next month in Seoul, connected to the ‘Beyond Big Plans’ symposium for urban planners: ‘Aging Dragons’.

It’s an exhibit about post-growth prospects of the well-developed Asian cities Seoul, Singapore, Taipei, Tokyo and Hong Kong. Our part will focus on the effects of the boring city and hyper-efficiency in Hong Kong’s housing estates like social distance, segregations and lack of upward mobility. We’re working on the panels as we speak. Keep you posted. And… if you happen to be in Seoul… take a snapshot for me:).

BenchesCollective turns street into outdoor cafe

BankjesCollectief-1

I’m rediscovering my roots these days now I’m back in Amsterdam. One of the things I missed while living in Asia, is the European culture of eating/drinking outdoors. Naturally I was thrilled when I read this week about an amazing initiative in the city: BankjesCollectief (BenchesCollective).

The BenchesCollective takes a typical Dutch phenomenon as a starting point: the ubiquitous privately owned benches on sidewalks in front of houses. Every first Sunday of the month in spring and summer, the collective turns the streets of Amsterdam into the ‘largest’ outdoor café in the world. The owners of the benches decide what they serve and the visitors determine the value afterwards. Of course, the menu can have food and drinks, but also activities like salsa classes, knitting workshops, and (clothing) swap sessions can be spotted near benches.

“The monthly cafe stimulates new encounters. Also, it tries to encourage people to look at public space as a shared canvas that can be colored by us all”, BenchesCollective founder Jesse Jorg explains. People abroad are invited to join the collective and ‘open’ their own bench as well. On the website you can pin your location, determine your opening hours and make a brief description of the menu at your bench and you’re set to go! Cheers to old and new friends!

Gender Imbalance in China

leftover women (doeke van Nuil)

As a preparation for Valentines day, my extensive piece about gender-imbalance in China and the often harmful effects for Chinese women was published on De Correspondent (written in cooperation with Kathleen).

De Correspondent is a Dutch-language, online journalism platform that focuses on background, analysis, investigative reporting, and the kinds of stories that tend to escape the radar of mainstream media because they do not conform to what is normally understood to be ‘news’.

Don’t you love the illustration that came with it, done by Doeke van Nuil? I do:)

My New Favorite Places #1

hallen

What makes you feel at home in a city? At the moment I’m in a period of transition myself and this questions keeps popping up in my personal reflections. For me it’s not specifically my house but definitely my neighbours, and I need to have enough inspiring ‘third places’ around. Places that are not home or work where you feel like you’re part of a bigger community.

One of those places that we discovered last week in Amsterdam Oud-West is called “De Hallen” (The Halls). It’s a really cool mix of a food-court, cinema, library, coffee-shop and some artsy workshops combined in an former tram depot: “Tram depot the Halls is a national monument and has historically been a closed enclave in the late nineteenth-century expansion of Amsterdam. The Halls is a traditional, functionalistic complex build for the maintenance of the first electric trams around 1900.”

The building was in a deplorable state when we left Amsterdam 3.5 years ago. But now it’s a super lively place. I really like how they transformed this heritage building in public space that works. Especially the Food-concept: we’ve been back twice already! De Foodhallen is inspired by ‘indoor food markets’ from different metropolitan cities (like Hong Kong:)). You can enjoy a large variety of delicious bites and drinks from different stalls in an industrial-like setting.

Taste the Language: Chocolatexture

chocolatexture01_akihiro_yoshida

Nine chocolates that have identical ingredients but taste completely different because the distinctive textures of each chocolate creates a different taste. I find this a an incredibly intriguing idea. The mini sculptures feature pointed tips, hollow interiors, smooth or rough surface textures.

According to Oki Sato (Nendo), each of the chocolate types were inspired by an onomatopoeic word from the Japanese language that describes texture. The chocolates correspond with words like “toge toge” (sharp pointy tips), “sube sube” (smooth edges and corners) and “zara zara” (granular, like a file).

Chocolatexture was created for the Maison & Objet trade fair currently taking place this week in Paris. 400 limited edition Chocolatexture sets were created and will be sold during the event in Paris at the Chocolatexture lounge. “Taste the words”… not a figure of speech anymore:).

Interview with Occupy Leader

artikel benny

What an awesome last day of the year it was. On the 31st of December Kathleen Ferrier and I were able to look back on the Hong Kongs’ political turbulent year with Benny Tai, one of the main Occupy Central (With Love and Peace) leaders. Interviewing him really inspired me, not only in a professional way but also on a personal level. Although it’s quite obvious he prefers to ‘hide’ in his study full of books and plants, he feels it’s his duty to speak up. Such a humble man, full of hope and strong ideas for Hong Kongs’ political future. I hope some of them come true in 2015.

We wrote this article about the interview in Nederlands Dagblad (Dutch Daily Newspaper). 

Exhibition Heritage Conservation

heritage1

heritage2

Loved to work with the Urban Discovery team on this Exhibition at the RICS Heritage Conservation Conference. Heritage conservation in Hong Kong is a challenge which generates strong views in the community and presents a range of interesting issues. I made the design (in close cooperation with Lisette van Rijn and Grace Lee) of these exhibition-panels. Each one evaluates the re-use of a particular heritage buildings in Hong Kong.

Some Revitalisation concept are super cool. My personal favourite: a resettlement housing estate that turned into a hostel (Mei Ho House). After the conference, the exhibition will be relocated to Blue House in Wan Chai so you can check out all the fascinating stories and struggles that are connected to Hong Kong’s most fascinating urban renewal projects.

Travel as Therapy

loog-choob2

This is one of the lovely hostels we were staying in during our travels in Thailand (loog choob). The beautiful, modernistic, open architecture was a breath of fresh air and helped me organise my thoughts after weeks of hectic, confusing life in Hong Kong. Holidays aren’t only for fun as far as I’m concerned. Travel can also play a critical role in helping us to grow in our personalities. I read an extremely interesting article written by The School of Life about that notion and I’d love to share bits and pieces of it with you while I’m having some travel experiences in Thailand over Christmas myself.

Travel can function as a form of therapy in our lives. When it corrects the imbalances and immaturities of our natures it can complement to the ‘inner journey’ that we’re on. After all we’re trying to develop our character in a certain way: “We might be searching for how to be calmer or how to find a way to rethink our goals, we might long for a greater sense of confidence or an escape from debilitating feelings of envy.” Travel experiences can help us with that, the outer journey can assist us with the inner one.

But in order to work a therapeutic effect, we need to change how we go about choosing our destinations. Instead of choosing a ‘beach holiday’ or ‘outdoor fun’, we should look how a destination can nurture our soul. “There are places that could help with shyness and others with anxiety. Some places might be good at reducing egoism and others might be good for helping us think more clearly about the future”.

The School of Life is currently writing a Psychological Atlas of the world. A great project if you you ask me. Read more about it here. Travel in the outer world can push us to where we need to go within. Happy Christmas travels, hopefully it gives you some opportunity to think which direction you want to go in 2015 (figuratively speaking:)).