I grew up in Wageningen, a provincial town on the river Rhine. Small as it was, the University of Agriculture (now Life Sciences) brought in just that bit of fresh international vibe to make it feel… less small. It nurtured my curiosity about faraway places and cultures and how they were mingling. After high school I made the big step: I left for Japan. For one year I was an exchange student, staying with Japanese host families and going to a Japanese highschool in the countryside. It was a year in which everything was new and strange and full of wonder.

When I returned to the Netherlands, I enrolled at the History of Arts course at the University of Amsterdam. But in spite of fantastic teachers (such as Rembrandt expert Ernst van de Wetering), I felt not at the right place there. I wanted to create, to make spatial experiences. In 1999 I graduated from Delft University, and with a degree in architecture in my pocket I left again for Japan. This time as a research student at the Technical University of Tokyo.

Even though Tokyo was very different from my countryside experiences, and many years had passed, it still felt familiar. I crossed the entire city for my research and did many creative projects together with my husband Allard. We travelled around the country and explored the new technologies that were popping up everywhere around us, such as mobile navigation, toy robotics (Aibo), interactive screens… I was fascinated by the high-tech prefab building method in Japan, and wrote many articles for magazines and newspapers in Europe about Japanese architecture.

Since moving back to Amsterdam in 2005 I run my own design practice. Today I combine my practice with motherhood and teaching spatial design at the Rietveld Academy. I like working on a wide range of projects and collaborate in many interdisciplinary teams. I believe that spatial experiences can make us more sensitive and contribute to our sense of belonging. Real people and real situations are therefore always essential for my way of working. And a lot of fun.

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