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Tommy Kleerekoper / Co-founder TANK
“I’m not afraid to make mistakes”
Were you were born a designer? I’ve long wondered that myself. It took a while for me to dare acknowledge it, but I can now. In hindsight, the signs were everywhere, but I didn’t notice them. In my teens, I used to rearrange the furniture in my room every other month, and found it remarkable that doing so could have such an immediate effect on a room's character. I was also always curious about how things worked, and tried to think of ways to improve how they did. And I remember scraping together 600 Guilders when I was 16. Any other kid would probably have upgraded the engine and exhaust system on his scooter or something; I bought a designer coffee table.
You've been described as a bit of a rebel. Are you, and were you as a child? I don’t think I am. I was actually quite a sweet kid, a bit shy even. I grew up bored in a little village just south of Amsterdam, so I daydreamed a lot. My "real" life doesn't seem to have begun until I got myself a moped in high school; that’s when I became a bit more rebellious. But I had no interests besides girls and partying. I had my own car by 17, and realised one day that I’d been in and out of six schools and universities in three years.
Tell us about your parents. What did they do for a living and what were they like as people? My parents were really nice people, but very different in character. My dad was quite rational and risk averse, whereas my mum was extremely social and cosmopolitan. I used to worry that she’d divorce him because he wasn’t like her. It’s possible I inherited this insatiable hunger for city life from her. In hindsight, I think my mum realised that my creativity needed an outlet. But I was oblivious to this and, probably emulating my father, studied something safe – economics – only to realise later that I couldn’t have chosen a more unsuitable course if I’d tried.