Lionel Trilling cooking quality cheese
Italo Calvino love cats humour
John Cage composing Beethoven silence
Richard Serra designing New York Venice


This is the most abstract concept in the magic square. I am obsessed with quality. I’m not sure if it’s a genuine obsessive neurosis, but it seems to occupy me all day long. Actually, I wish everybody was like that.

In general, I find the low awareness of quality annoying. And I mean quality of life. What are your living arrangements, how close up are your neighbours, what do you eat, and what price are you willing to pay in order to eat something that is better or tastier?

Of course there are economic forces that don’t take any notice of quality. We live in a small country with a great many people. Project developers are predominantly interested in earning as much as possible, while using up minimal floor space and resources. These days, housing development programmes are all about square metres, and building quicker and cheaper. Same story for the way bread is baked. Dutch bread mainly consists of air. For real bread you have to go to Germany. In Holland the main concern seems to be how to earn twice as much using the same amount of dough.

It is true that I only present my work to the outside world if all the details are in place. Having said that, our subject seems to be drifting towards the issue of ‘perfection’ now. Strangely enough the word ‘perfectionism’ is often used in a pejorative sense, whereas I think the term is rather positive. In my case Vixen Sharp-Ears would be a more appropriate nickname than Ricky Slobby-Fox!

Swing verbodQuality is important to all aspects of my life. I want to know where I can buy the best coffee beans, the most beautiful clothes, and the tastiest cheese — as a celebration of life. To me this is also a matter of sensuality. I recently saw a 1950s postcard picturing a prohibition sign in a bible-belt village hall in the Netherlands. It said: “Swinging is strictly prohibited. Transgressors will be removed from the hall.” Terrifying, isn’t it?