Chances are you’ve spotted the super fun and sometimes quirky products that Kikkerland has to offer and the man behind the clever design company is Jan van der Lande, who started it all on his New York City houseboat in 1992. Back then, it seemed perfectly natural to launch a company on a boat and make deliveries by bike, having been raised in Holland. All these years later, van der Lande still lives on a houseboat and bikes his way to the Kikkerland headquarters in downtown Manhattan. Originally, Dutch designs were imported to be sold but now the brand works with designers, like Sebastian Errazuriz, David Dear, Milton Glaser, David Weeks, and more, to produce hundreds of original designs. Where else can you buy something nice for your mom and then “cat butt” magnets for your friends? Let’s see what this now New Yorker loves and how it inspires him in this week’s Friday Five.
1. My Closest Friend
Not only has Chico Bicalho been my friend (in Brazil) for over 20 years, he is the designer of our critter wind-ups. We keep regular contact and write about funny, innovative things we find on the Internet. The other day he found some old pictures from 1914 of a battle ship build in Union Square. He also keeps me updated about the reforestation project that he manages in Brazil. The project planted close to 200,000 indigenous tropical rain forest trees. I am proud to support this; part of the critter sales goes towards this.
I love nature. My house is next to a bird sanctuary. I love hiking with my dog Kobe, it’s so nice and peaceful. We see different birds and animals and smell the fresh air. It gives me time think and get inspiration. Kobe loves nature too! He hops around and enjoys every moment with sheer enthusiasm. I am glad mankind is preserving national parks – and we should do more of it!
I am sort of a chess fanatic. I play every day online with my chess buddies and every week I go to play tournaments at the Marshall Chess Club in New York. It is at a historic landmark building on 10th Street. It was once owned by world master champion Marshall and he donated it to the chess club when he died. Bobby Fisher was the one that inspired me to play but my favorite player is Emanuel Lasker, a mathematician and philosopher and World Chess Champion for 27 years. He is the one that taught me that if you find a good move, look for a better one.
4. My Bike
I bike to and from work every day, rain or shine. I grew up in the Netherlands where practically everyone bikes. In New York during my student years I was a bike messenger; we considered ourselves the Pony Express of New York. My nickname was the Master Race Bicycle Messenger because I was the only biker with a master’s degree and I did not bike, but rather raced through the streets. My bike looks like a street bike of no particular brand. Biking makes me feel free as I can move around anywhere easier, faster and more enjoyable. For me a bike must be light in weight, fast and smooth. Even though my bike looks like kinda crappy I adjust and maintain my bike myself on a regular basis.
5. My Boat
I own and live on a 62 foot Pacemaker. It is my home and my freedom. My wife and I raised our 3 children on our boat. It is a classic motor yacht from 1975 and for the last 14 years I have been restoring it little by little to how it originally was. As most of the boat is made of wood, this is a lot of work. In the summer we take it out on the ocean, to Long Island Sound, up the river and along the Jersey coast. It is my dream to bring the boat to Florida and explore the Caribbean one day. We also use the boat to entertain our friends and guests. Everyone enjoys boating and I am always surprised how few people use the water.
All images courtesy of Kikkerland, except the chess board.