Hanazuki Studio

Hanazuki Studio Shop was founded in Amsterdam by Niko Stumpo and Hanneke Metselaar, as a street level venture with the intentions to bring free flowing creativity to the masses. Or as they say it, like a moonflower (hanazuki) that brings its colours in to the darkness of the night. Aside from working with top-notch clients such as Nokia, Mimobot, or Quiksilver, Hanazuki is a strong promoter of youth culture and holds regular puppet-monster making labs, animation and illustration workshops.

“I love to do many things, so a simple studio was not enough for us. We wanted to have a place where we could show what we and other creatives were creating, so a store/showroom for us was the best solution.”

Format: How was the Hanazuki Studio and Shop created?
Niko Stumpo: A few years back, I moved to Amsterdam to work as an art director at the Wieden+Kennedy ad agency. While living here I met a lot of people, one of those was Hanneke Metselaar. After talking we found out that we shared the same passions and interests, so I decided to quit my job and start our own company.

I love to do many things, so a simple studio was not enough for us. We wanted to have a place where we could show what we and other creatives were creating, so a store/showroom for us was the best solution. In the studio we work for different clients doing more concept and design work and with the store we sell what we produce ourselves and other products made by creatives from all over the world.

Format: Please tell us about your puppet studio and workshops.
Niko Stumpo: At our one-year anniversary party to entertain our guests, we came up with the idea of creating a space were people could go and build/create their own puppet and take it home. So we prepared lots of pre-made shapes and materials that people could assemble easily as they wanted. It was a big success, so we decided to organize and structure it more like a workshop. We have been doing them for two years now, both for kids and adults, for institutions and privates. We started to do them in schools as well. Other than the puppet lab, we do animation and illustration workshops. 

Format: Have you always had a passion for vinyl toys? What sparked the collaboration with Furi Furi Company?
Niko Stumpo: I always had a passion for toys, not just for the vinyl ones. When I was a kid I was obsessed with the Playmobil, I just loved them. I had been in contact through email with FuriFuri for many years. We finally met during the Pictoplasma Conference in Berlin where we got to know each other better and got to talk about ideas and future projects. We decided to start doing something together right away rather than just talking, so we did collaboration on the Little Devils. 

Format: What is the favorite part of your job?
Niko Stumpo: Being able to work on something I love with people I look up to everyday.

Format: What was your favorite toy design of 2008?
Niko Stumpo: That’s a hard question, but I can tell you that in 2008 I went to Hong Kong and there I bought a lot of toys. The ones that impressed me the most were from the Dr Slump and Arale series. They are so beautiful. I also like MCA’s new figures. His toys are so expressive and cute; I love his ape face.

Format: Has anyone ever had a problem with the fact that you guys are grown adults and still fooling around with toys and cartoon characters?
Niko Stumpo: No, one has ever complained. Most of the time they say that we are lucky to be still kids in adult bodies.

Format: You have participated in an impressive number of gallery shows. Can you tell me about some of your recent ones?
Niko Stumpo: The latest show we had was last year In Brussels where I did an exhibition at Mr. Ego, together with a good friend of mine called Boghe. We did a collaborative project, based on paintings and small installations based on previous work I did called Metal Insects. I was invited to the Pompidou Center in Paris in 2001 for an exhibition called Vector Lounge, at that time it was organized by my good mate Scien from 123klan. We basically had exhibited all our first vector and flash based animations.

Format: Can you tell me about your most memorable conference experience?
Niko Stumpo: The most amazing was the first Semi-permanent conference in Sidney, in 2003. The line up of the speakers involved was amazing, as well as the organization. Not to downplay how cool Sidney was and how well it reacted to the conference. The day I had to speak I arrived in front of the building to find that there was a line of more then 1000 people waiting to get inside. I was so nervous just at the idea that they had come to see me, among other artists. Once inside I spoke to an audience of 2500+ people and it was a total blast. I still thank Andrew and Murray which made it possible and invited me to attend.

Format: Hanazuki has been very successful with corporate clients, such as Nokia. How often do you have to tone down your ideas to meet their needs?
Niko Stumpo: We never had to tone down ideas, we always strictly follow the briefs of the clients, then we interpret it our own way, but always having in mind the client needs. In this way we are able to be “free” creatively without losing the path. I think it is easier to come up with ideas when you are really limited. I find that it’s not so easy when they give you complete freedom. With Nokia we were lucky to work on really amazing projects, that made us more mature on the business side and opened a lot of doors for us.

Format: Does being surrounded by Coffee Shops have an effect on your creativity, or is it just a myth that this sort of activity has an effect on your abilities as artists and designers?
Niko Stumpo: If you don’t want to see them you don’t see them, here they are considered like bars, or normal cafés, so if you want you go inside you do otherwise you don’t. For sure, they don’t affect the creativity.

Format: Do you feel that the coffee shop environment has an impact on Amsterdam’s creative industry?
Niko Stumpo: Not on the creative industry, but on the tourism for sure. 90% of tourists that come here they do for the coffee shops not for the Van Gogh Museum.

Format: Are there any sorts of devices or tools that you use to stimulate your own creativity?
Niko Stumpo: Not really, if I did I think I would go mad. I have already things popping in my head constantly that are enough to keep more than busy creating things. I get all of my inspiration from observing the people I meet, listening to what they say, asking them questions and that sort of thing.

Format: What advice can you give to stimulate creativity in the minds of aspiring artists?
Niko Stumpo: Don’t get stuck on one idea or style, just keep exploring and do what you really feel.

Format: What is coming up for Hanazuki in 2009?
Niko Stumpo: Developing more Hanazuki as a brand and producing more products and toys. We are going to keep the store closed on the weekends so that we can use the space to make workshops, we really like the contact with the people, and share tricks and tips we who is willing to learn. We love working with kids, they are so inspiring. They always come up with crazy, smart ideas. I would like to finally make a cartoon, with our characters.

Jesse Ship
I'm currently Managing Editor of this little web mag here.
Jesse Ship

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