Updated: Mar 16
Photo by Reggy van Liempd
We are joining #MarchMeetTheMaker2021, meaning this month you will learn a lot about our business, who we are, what we do, how we do it, why we do it, our dreams and quite some other things...
Day 1: Brand Introduction
This is one of the rare photos of us together as Kaplum. We are both partners in business as partners in life. We are based in Alkmaar (the Netherlands). Our name Kaplum comes from the Turkish word kaplumbağa, meaning turtle, frog (bağa) with a shield (kaplum). So Kaplum is a home, a safe place, a protection. We make sustainable soft and wooden toys. The world children live in - full of color, adventure and imagination - is the basis of our designs. We have a four year old son who inspires us everyday. Alper loves Japanese woodwork, playing guitar, drawing and cooking. Anna loves reading, writing, playing the piano and gardening and together we simply love making beautiful things. We both studied Fine Arts at the Gerrit Rietveld Academy in Amsterdam, but that is not where we met, not exactly. We knew each other, even had adjoining studios, but we never really talked. Until three years after Graduation, when we met again at an exhibition of old class mates. We are sometimes still surprised about how we ended up in Alkmaar together.
Photo by Annegien van Doorn
Day 2: Style
To allow the imagination of the child to flourish, we use simple shapes and colours. Since our background is in art, our inspiration mostly comes from artists. We admire, for example, the colourful and playful works by Willem de Kooning, Alexander Calder and Joan Míro, but also the simple and bold shapes from the Bauhaus movement, Ellsworth Kelly and Richard Serra.
Another thing that is specific for our style is that we never 'just' make a toy. There is always a story behind. For example, we made our whale series to address the ever growing problem of plastic pollution. Every year over eight million tons of plastic ends up in our oceans. UNESCO estimates that because of this over hundred thousand sea mammals die each year. Whales are among the victims. If we continue unabated, there will be more plastic than fish in the ocean by 2050. With every whale we sell we will make a donation to the Plastic Soup Foundation, supporting their campaigns and education program.
We are constantly looking for the right language. How do you address children and their parents at the same time? How can you talk about a very alarming and disturbing problem, but at the same time stay connected with the adventurous and playful world of kids?
To keep myself and my mind busy during the strange times of Covid-19 lockdown, I started working on a new project: Lockdown animals. Amongst all the sad and disturbing news I came across one small beautiful thing: animals started to reclaim the cities. Swans in the canals of Venice, ducks in the fountains of Rome, foxes in Berlin gardens and raccoons in Central Park. And there were more: mountain goats in Llandudno (Wales), monkeys in Lopburi (Thailand), wild boars in Barcelona, coyotes in San Fransisco, hedgehogs on the roads in the UK, penguins in Cape Town. For now I had time to design four of these lockdown animals, but it is an ongoing project.