Getting creative

Lockdown, day 44.

From my home in Tiana, Spain.


The day after we arrived in Spain, the national lockdown was announced. We still had the opportunity to go back to Amsterdam, but we decided to stay voluntarily. If we were to be locked down everywhere, we’d choose our home in Tiana, where it’s peaceful and quiet, where there is a garden full of flowers, fruits and vegetables, and a pool in which we can swim every day, over our top floor apartment in the centre of Amsterdam.

We had planned to stay for ten days, and now we’re here for the forty fourth day in a row. We are not allowed to go out on the street – only to do groceries and only if we do this as close by as possible. So no trips to Barcelona to buy that delicious cheese or that special granola. Off course that’s not a problem at all, there’s enough to buy here in Tiana. But sometimes something is not for sale or sold out – and we have to improvise. And that’s something I love! Improvising gives me tons of energy.

I remember a project I did with Droog in 2004 in Tokyo. It was a presentation of our Go Slow café: a small eatery where everything ran slow and the waiting staff – all elderly people – walked on huge slippers because they’d be too fast otherwise. The whole installation was shipped in containers to Tokyo, but on arrival one of the containers turned out to be missing. We tried everything but couldn’t get it back in time. That’s when I went to full speed. I took my whole team to DIY warehouse Tokyo Hands and with a completely blissful feeling I ran through all eight stories. We found felt, stretch tape, rice paper, frames to make lamps and much more. With these materials we created the enormous slippers for the seniors and paper lamps to substitute the Slow Glow lamps by Next Architects. The result was impressive. Our patchy paper lamps even turned out to be very poplar.

The same is happening here and now. It started with the sold out face masks. I wanted to make one myself from scrap materials. In a house of just three years old you don’t have that much waste or scrap yet – but I found a pillow case that doesn’t fit, I took straps out of pyjama pants and a little piece of the bag from the vacuum cleaner served as the filter. I don’t have a sewing machine so I sewed the mask by hand. It doesn’t do much because it keeps slipping down my nose – but so be it.

Then there’s the bread. We always bake bread ourselves here using our machine. I bring multigrain flour from the Netherlands because that’s nowhere to be found here. When off course it ran out, I turned to a few things I still had left in the cupboards: spelt, corn and chestnut flour, oatmeal and rye, and mixed everything together. The bread turned out even better than before! So I no longer have to bring flour from the Netherlands.

Then, I ran out of facial cream. The brand I regularly use isn’t available in our neighbourhood. There were recipes on the internet, but I didn’t have the right ingredients or the sufficient amount. After some searching I found everything I needed to create my own version: Vaseline, cacao butter, a leftover stick of lip balm, coconut oil, the argan oil a friend brought from Morocco and a little bit of gel from the Aloë Vera plant in the garden. A bit of experimenting later, it resulted into a delicious cream. I actually don’t need to use anything else anymore. Unfortunately I’ll never be able to achieve the same result twice – this only happens when you’re messing around.