Amazing Plant-house! The interview
Miniature tree houses are a wonderful thing. Use it to visualize your dream tree house, transport yourself to another world in one breath, or give your friends presents. In the last post I tested and built tree house sets from the Amazing Plant-house Shop. Behind this fine little shop is Maarten Kok, founder and designer from the Netherlands. In this interview, he reveals how he came up with his business idea:
What, in your opinion, does a treehouse stand for?
A miniature one? I think speaking to your imagination. It’s amazing to see a plant transform into a miniature jungle as soon as you add a mini tree house in there. A real tree house fulfills the inner need to shelter and have the advantage to be able to live as you do at home I quess.
How did it all start with Amazing Plant House?
I just love creating stuff. Building cute little houses for my plants was actually a winter evening activity. When a friend had her birthday coming, I thought it would be fun to create a little DIY pack with strips of balsa wood, so she could build her own little tree house – as she is a big plant fan. When she unpacked the gift people went crazy about it. So I thought „Wow, this would make a cool product!“ And so it all started …
Do you have partners in crime?
Yes I do now! I’ve got Marlijn helping me out with producing the plant-houses and Bob with making amazing content and marketing. We do everything in our own little studio within a larger hall, where all kinds of little business are stationed in Rotterdam.
What is your professional background?
I’m a Graphic designer that has never designed, I went straight to animation. Together with a friend I had an animation studio where we made hand crafted promotional video’s/animations. Before that I studied two years of Industrial Product Design, but dropped off because I suck in math. But I kept the soft spot for products, I guess?
How do you plan a new treehouse?
Ideas keep flowing in. I love shifting my imagination to the miniature world and wonder what this world would need or could use. After the idea of a new item we can put this in production in a short period of time. For instance the idea of the Plant-caravan went from idea to production in 4 days. We do everything in our own shop so the designing, laser cutting, printing, assembly and shipping is done within our studio.
I usually work from a rough pencil sketch and try some different variations of the same idea, this usually leads to new and interesting insights but also lead back to the first idea in some cases. Then we discuss which is best, after which good old Illustrator helps me making the design fit for laser cutting.
How long does the building process of your biggest treehouse on your shop take?
I think it’s the Plant-house this one takes 2,5 hours, I guess? I designed them so I’m actually not the best person to ask. Which make me realize… I should record it some time with someone doing it for the first time!
I imagine you’ve got plenty of plants in your home. Is there one you’ve got a special connection to?
I stop getting too connected, because I tend to keep killing them over time. So there is a different plant setup going on all the time. But I do have to admit that my desert rose give me new love for plants. It’s a forgiving plant which you can shape into an awesome fat stemmed beast that keeps on giving flowers. I hope it will be with us for a long time…. 🙂
Is there anything you wouldn’t want to miss in your miniature treehouse?
A rocking chair.
Which book would you recommend as treehouse reading?
That has to be ‘Leven en werken van de Kabouter’ („The Live and Work of the Gnome“) written by Rien Portvliet, famous of David the Gnome. This book is awesome! When talking about shifting your imagination to another world, this is the pinnacle. Did you know for instance, that the pointed hat of a gnome is massive? Well, there you go…
What food and drink would you serve in your treehouse for guests?
That depends on the tree house. The Plant-penthouse will ask for something different then the Plant-hut. I think the hut will fit a nice dinner with canned tomato soup, potatoes with onions and bacon, accompanied by a cold beer. For the Pent-house we’ll skip dinner for champagne and cocaine.
Who would you like to take up to the treetops with you?
Uuhm.. my girlfriend!
What band would you like to play music for you on your porch on a Friday night?
Haha, that must be Klaus Wunderlich, the only music that makes every situation better. Try arguing with someone while playing Klaus Wunderlich in the background. I hope my porch will hold his organ though.
You’ve got a treehouse? What does it look like?
Nope, why you think I make miniatures? It’s the cheap way of owning one. I live in the city and owning a garden is an unattainable dream, let alone building a tree house. But well, you never know. Wouldn’t it be the most awesome idea to make enough money with creating miniature tree houses to eventually own a real one?
And did you have one as a child?
When my mother caught me climbing up our biggest tree with a hammer and nails she stopped me. That was a disappointment, but probably kept my dream alive!
*Image by courtesy of Maarten Kok
**Image by courtesy of Sietse Koenders
*** Image by courtesy of Loch Stimpson
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