Happy products for happy people!


When you have a lot on your mind, you also have a lot to remember. And if you have to remember all sorts of things, you’re also bound to forget something from time to time. Pip’s life has always been hectic. But she wouldn’t hear of having a diary. If there was really something important that she absolutely had to remember, she would simply write it down on her hand, arm or even scrawl it in red lipstick on her bathroom mirror. Or sometimes she would ask her brother Olle to call her to remind her if something was really important. Although Olle never actually called her, because he simply didn’t fancy the idea of being his sister’s secretary.

But somehow Pip got along just fine without a diary and she was determined to keep living a diary-free life. And when people would tell her just how practical a diary was, she would always say that you can’t plan life. And creativity certainly can’t be scheduled into a time slot.

She used various terms to describe diaries. The kindest were ‘vision of professionalism’ and ‘symbol of order and structure’. And the least kind terms included ‘assassin of creativity’ and ‘a wet dream for control freaks’. The way Pip saw it, every day was made up of a chain of coincidental moments. These were totally unplanned moments that had nothing whatsoever to do with a larger plan and that certainly couldn’t be charted in advance. Pip was consequently convinced that diaries were completely unnecessary, although ironically a diary turned out to be the first product she designed. However, Pip’s diary was born out of necessity. Because if Pip hadn’t forgotten Jet’s birthday, it probably would have never been created.

It went like this.

Jet was one of Pip’s best friends, perhaps even her best friend. Pip would do anything in the world for her. This probably had to do with the fact that Jet was forever spending her time making things more beautiful, so she closely resembled Pip in that sense. She created jewellery from cork and beads and she painted her living room walls a different colour every month.
But Pip also adored her because Jet stood by her girlfriends through thick and thin and was particularly always there when Pip needed her. While it never actually happened, Pip knew that if she got a flat tyre on her bike in the middle of nowhere in the middle of the night, Jet would come and get her without giving it a second thought. She knew that for sure, well almost for sure. That’s partly why Pip felt so awful about forgetting her birthday. She wrote the following passage in her journal:
‘Jet opened the door. I was, as usual, late. Jet never liked my lack of punctuality. And, I didn’t have time this year to make one of my famous strawberry pies for her. But that’s not the real problem, because I can always give her a rain check for the pie. It took a while before she opened the door. ‘Happy birthday Jet,’ I said with a laugh and pinched her cheek playfully. But Jet didn’t move a muscle. She just looked at me with a mixture of rage and sadness.
‘Listen, I don’t mind if you’re five or ten minutes late. But turning up a week and a half late is just too much to handle. Why weren’t you at my party?’
Well, I just froze. I was dumbfounded. But then the whole thing flashed through my mind. Her birthday is on the 12th and not
the 21st. 12, 21, 21, 12. I was speechless. After a couple of seconds (which felt like hours), Jet closed the door. How can I ever make it up to her?’

Pip pledged to never, and she meant never, forget anything again. Particularly not Jet’s birthday. And she knew that this wasn’t going to be an easy task. She knew she was going to have to take decisive action. She realised that she was going to have to do the unimaginable: she was going to have to get a diary. It took a few days for her to gather up enough courage to put her words into action. She rode her bike into town and set about buying that blasted diary. But it turned out to be a fright more difficult than she had imagined. None of the diaries she looked at were attractive. Or they were impractical. Or not up-to-date. Or not timeless. Not cheerful. All Pip saw were loveless diaries. Diaries with no style. And clearly no soul. After all, even though a diary was the vision of professionalism, that didn’t mean that it couldn’t look bright and cheery.

After assessing 367 disappointing diaries for 15 main points and 65 details, Pip finally decided that ‘I can do it better.’

So that’s how Pip ended up sitting down at the drawing table in her own studio to design her own diary. But first she bought enough groceries to last for seven days. And she then locked the nine doors and eighteen windows to her house. And, last but not least, she disconnected the telephone. Right, all systems are go. The creative process could commence. And in the seven days that followed Pip worked in a state of optimum concentration. Or, more aptly put, in a state of profound inspiration. It was as if an angel perched on her shoulder and whispered into her ear exactly what the design should look like. The entire design process seemed to take place naturally. And after seven days and seven nights, Pip had developed a design for a diary. And what a diary it was. It was an exceptionally bright and cheery design. And practical and timeless too. A diary that you will enjoy taking out of your handbag month after month. She couldn’t help but chuckle. Who would have ever dreamt that she would design a diary of all things? A diary by Pip. For Pip. But the latter was actually kind of a shame. In fact, Pip thought that her diary had turned out so well that maybe other people might enjoy it too. She expressed this in another journal entry:

‘There must be other people who place the same high demands on a diary that I do. And I think it would be a shame if they had to settle for one of those diaries I looked at. I think I would actually like to sell my diary.’

And the next day she confided to her journal:

‘I’m so happy with the diary design that I’m looking to see whether I might be able to use it as the basis for creating other products. I couldn’t sleep the other night and ended up working through the night. By morning I had developed an entire line comprising a diary, ring binders, wrapping paper, three notebooks and even a selection of bags. All the products are part of one family. Bright and cheery products for bright and cheery people, even if I do say so myself. Sounds good, doesn’t it?’

So Pip now had her diary, but she still couldn’t get rid of the guilty feeling. She decided to visit Olle, the brother who had always been her rock. Olle was always there for her. With sound advice, a listening ear (he became a psychologist for good reason), or criticism of her new designs. He had been her confidant even back when she was studying at the academy – which is short for the Academy of the Industrial Design of Fine Arts. If there was something troubling her, she would always drop by to discuss it with Olle.

So a half hour later she was sitting on Olle’s couch. They were having a glass of wine and munching on some nuts. Stephane Grappelli was playing in the background. ‘Olle, I’ve got a surprise for you. I’ve designed this diary. For myself. And, well, if you think it’s good enough, I might just try to market it.’

Olle’s mouth fell open in astonishment: ‘You’re not serious? You don’t mean that my kid sister is finally growing up. Or losing her mind. Well, let me see this diary of yours.’ Pip triumphantly pulled the diary out of her bag and handed it to Olle. He studied the design assiduously, opened the diary and then closed it again. He then once again studied the design carefully. He ran his fingers across the surface of the cover and whistled through his teeth. ‘Yep,’ he said and placed the diary on the table.

‘What do you mean?’ Pip asked.

‘Yep. It’s a work of art. It’s beautiful,’ Olle said ceremoniously.

Olle opened another bottle of wine to celebrate the birth of Pip’s diary. Pip could no longer resist the temptation to tell Olle what was really bothering her. That she had forgotten Jet’s birthday. That she thought it was on the 21st instead of the 12th. That she hadn’t made a strawberry pie for her. That Jet had looked so heartbroken. And that she felt so incredibly guilty. And that her guilty feeling was why she had designed a diary for herself. After hearing the whole story, Olle said: ‘Do you know what I would do if I were you? I’d throw a party for Jet. You’ve got to make it up to her. She’s always been such a good friend to you.’

Pip raised her glass and exclaimed happily: ‘What a brilliant idea Olle. That’s exactly what I’m going to do.’

She had finally regained her peace of mind and could think about something else. They quickly digressed and started talking about their youth. Olle wondered why Pip had never found a successor for Cruijff, her much-loved parakeet who had earned his name thanks to his exceptional talent. You see, Cruijff could play a mean game of football with a wad of paper. Pip and Cruijff were inseparable. Pip said that she hadn’t wanted to get another parakeet out of respect for Cruijff. No other feathered friend could have ever been good enough to follow in his footsteps. All of a sudden, it dawned on her that it would be the perfect logo for her new venture: Pip and Cruijff. A logo for all the bright and cheery products she was going to design. Don’t forget it, she thought, and quickly jotted down the idea in her diary.

A party would make everything as right as rain with Jet. And the very next day she started writing down the names on the guest list. But after a while, she wadded up the list and threw it into the wastepaper basket. It should be an intimate party. She should really only invite a few good friends. That’s what Jet would have done if she was throwing the party herself.

Erika certainly had to be on the list. Erika and Jet had planned to tour Thailand, Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia for four months. That is, if Erika hadn’t caught Lyme disease on the first week of their trip. They stayed for exactly two weeks in a hospital in Bangkok and then went back home. She would also invite Jet’s sister Marieke who she jogged around the ponds in the Vondel Park in Amsterdam with every Wednesday evening. Her colleague Jip also had to be on the guest list. Jet and Jip shared a passion for romantic movies. When Harry met Sally, You’ve Got Mail, Serendipity, they couldn’t get enough of them. And the twin sisters Lisa and Sara, her good friends and owners of a successful matchmaking agency in the heart of Amsterdam, also had to be on the list. They could talk entertainingly about their own failed relationships and marriages for hours. As if they were talking about a pair of old shoes that needed to be replaced.

Erika, Marieke, Jip, Lisa, Sara, Jet and Pip. Seven guests in all. So what was fun to do with a group of seven? A nice dinner? Or how about a picnic? Yes, that’s a good idea. They would all go on a picnic. What fun. The rose garden in the Vondel Park was the perfect location. Everything fell into place. She sat down immediately at the drawing table in her studio to start designing the invitation. She drew the fence around the Vondel Park at the top. And then when you opened the invitation you saw seven girlfriends sitting on a big blanket in the middle of the rose garden. Surrounded by plates of food and glasses of champagne. She drew Jet as the radiant life of the picnic surrounded by her best friends. She also added the text:

From now on we’re going to celebrate Jet’s birthday twice a year.

On the 12th of August and the 12th of September.

I hope all of you can join us for a party on 12 September.

We look forward to welcoming you at 1:00 in the rose garden in Vondel Park for a big picnic. Oh and by the way, don’t say a word about this to Jet, it is supposed to be a surprise party for her.

Love, Pip

The sun was shining on the day of the picnic. Pip picked a few roses and tied them into a garland. She stylishly placed some blankets featuring bright designs of butterflies, roses and daisies on the grass in the rose garden. Then all the invitees started to arrive. They all brought wicker baskets filled with pasta salads, Italian meatballs, sandwiches with mozzarella, tomato and basil, sandwiches with Parma ham, sandwiches with salmon and, of course, plates, glasses and cutlery. There were wine coolers filled with white wine and champagne. And she of course had made her famous strawberry pie.

Marieke cycled up first at around 10 past one. Erika then joined the group about five minutes later. Followed by the twins and Jip. The group was complete at 1.30. Jet could turn up at any minute now. She didn’t have an inkling that there was a party and thought that she was just meeting up with Erika.

When Jet walked up and saw all the girls sitting in a circle, she couldn’t believe her eyes.

‘I thought it was weird that you wanted to meet up in the rose garden,’ she said. Pip hugged Jet and immediately placed the garland around her shoulders. So it was now plain to see who the birthday girl was. ‘I’m sorry,’ Pip said to Jet, ‘I promise I will never forget your birthday again. And I’ve put together this picnic just so I can celebrate your birthday with you anyway. Have a seat and enjoy the afternoon.’

Jet looked around at the gathering of friends and then embraced Pip with tears in her eyes. She then joked: ‘As long as you don’t think that I’m going to say that you shouldn’t have.’

Jip opened a bottle of champagne and poured them each a glass. ‘How marvellously romantic. It’s a shame I’m not here with some debonair young fellow,’ Jip quipped. Lisa and Sara looked like they had been stung by a bee. ‘We can take care of that for you in a jiffy,’ said Sara. We just added a very nice single politician to our over-30 database yesterday. And he loves roses. He’d be perfect for you.’ 

Erika raised her glass and said: ‘Pip, this picnic was a great idea. And Jet, happy birthday again. Onward and upward to 28!’ Everybody then tucked into the sandwiches. Marieke asked Pip if she had also prepared low-cal sandwiches: ‘I’ve finally got down to my target weight and I want to keep it that way.’

The conversation flowed as freely as the champagne. They laughed, joked and enjoyed the food. When they’d finished all the sandwiches, Pip served the fresh strawberry pie. Jet got to taste it first: ‘Mmmm, now that’s what I call pie. Thank you, Pip.’ The fair weather encouraged everyone to stay until early evening. That evening Pip wrote the following piece in her journal with a satisfied feeling:

‘Everything turned out well, even the weather. Jet had a wonderful afternoon. And she was absolutely thrilled with the strawberry pie. Let’s do it all again next year. Don’t forget. Fortunately, I won’t now that I’ve got a diary.’