Welcome to the second installment of Paraphernalia, a profile of the men and the gear behind some of our favorite brands. Each month, we’re taking you behind the curtain to get a glimpse into what made these brands what they are today – and the essentials that helped them get there. This month, Matthew Waldman of revolutionary watch and product design firm Nooka.
Nooka makes some outlandish products. Watches, wallets, belts and display pieces that aren’t so much trips back to the drawing board as they are a reflection of Founder and Chief Creative Officer Matthew Waldman’s inability to acknowledge the fact that he even needs a drawing board. In other words, he threw the rule book out the window so he could apply his creative—at times, mad—genius to build a company that makes you reconsider everything from time to what holds your pants up. The end result is a collection of products with personalities of there own that are as interesting as Waldman’s. Before we get into that though, we need to learn a little bit about what makes Nooka tick.
At its core, Nooka is Waldman; Waldman is Nooka. Along with his love of carefully crafted cocktails (the man’s a bonafide mixologist), he’s been known to enjoy a rice beer or three on occasion. (Something we learned first-hand when we went behind the scenes at Nooka.) This is part of the reason why, if Nooka were a man, he would drink rice beer or maybe a nice oatmeal stout. Waldman injects a lot of himself into his company, but he’s not the only one involved. Without his more than capable staff of eight, managing design time would be difficult. Hard to believe given the fact that Waldman’s brain “works like a multi-processor computer modeling ideas in the background.” The line between what is Waldman and what is Nooka is blurry, but that’s not a bad thing.
Waldman begins the day like any other red-blooded American – coffee and naked emailing. After a long night spent conversing with overseas business partners, he can be so possessed by a design that it’s difficult to shut his brain off. This is where those previously mentioned carefully crafted cocktails or “other” chemical substances come into play. And even though he doesn’t find it necessary to utilize tiger blood for his late night flights of fancy, he has no problem partaking in humanely harvested unicorn blood when it’s available. He was quick to point out that this elixir can only come from a certified unicorn blood bank where the unicorns are duly compensated for their donations and none are hurt in the process. Compared with these revelations, applying his thought processes to genetically engineer products (and spaceships!) seems almost normal. It’s definitely all a little bit crazy, but it’s the good kind of crazy that inherently includes innovation and outside the box thinking.
It also means that Waldman has a really sweet collection of stuff:
Bike is a Puma bike designed by biomega of Denmark that I got because I love puma and I wanted a gay colored bike. ~Puma-Bikes.com
Matt’s current favorites: Panda Bear “Tomboy” / Jurgen Paape “Kompilation” / John Foxx and the Maths “Interplay” / Architecture in Helsinki “Moment Bends” / Florence and the Machine “Lungs and B Sides” / Alexander “Alexander” / Holy Ghost! “Holy Ghost!” / Lykke Li “Wounded Rhymes” / Of Montreal “False Priest” ~iPhone 4
I watched the original Japanese Raideen cartoon on channel 47 in NYC with no subtitles in the 1970s and saved up all my newspaper delivery money to buy this import toy! I played with it a lot so it’s not worth much now, but I still have it!
Nooka Zem watch, AMT ring, Swarovski ring
Wearing my own designs is not about “I made this!” It’s just as much about long term product testing. Moreover, there is nothing in the market like my strip and it fits my aesthetic perfectly! ~Nooka Strip
Product testing is personal at Nooka and we had some manufacturing flaws with the first generation of the AO. This 2nd generation is great and I use them all the time. ~Nooka AO
New York City winters are brutal and an old man like me needs to moisturize. The Hello Kitty moisturizer from Japan is not for kids – it’s a great product, and the raspberry seed oil from cowshed works on really dry days. ~Cowshed Facial Oil
I find the work of my friends to be inspiring and I am lucky to have such talent around me. Having their work in my office and home makes them feel close all the time. Pictured here is a figure from Tokyo based Mographixx. ~Mographixx
I’m addicted to kicks! Fuck comfort, I gotta look good. Thankfully, the two pairs here are comfortable too!
This is a banged-up maquette from my fairy labor union art project. I find the form and smile comforting when stressed. He/she is magic!