• at home and at work with
    AT HOME AND AT WORK WITH PETE VAN LEEUWEN
    April 23, 2015  |  BY TARIQ DIXON
    Brimming with Greenpoint pride, Pete Van Leeuwen likes to keep things hyper-local. The company's main offices, original scoop shop, Bedford Ave truck and Balinese restaurant are all located mere blocks from each of the three owners' homes. But, as the first to the discover the neighborhood over a decade ago, Pete is the original reason for the crew's North Brooklyn loyalty.

    Living on the outskirts of Bed Stuy and Bushwick when he first moved to NYC, Pete half-jokingly recalled how he'd "been missing an actual neighborhood." Wanting to live in an area that felt a little more communal, he uprooted to the largely Polish enclave just north of the then up-and-coming Williamsburg. Pete remembers the days when "Enid's was the only bar on the block, and there weren't any coffee shops." But how quickly things have changed, due largely in part to young, creative upstarts like their own.

    After wrapping up at Ben's apartment, we started to make our way to Pete's for our final stop of the day. But, distracted by the brilliance of the afternoon sun, we opted for a quick detour to the nearby Van Leeuwen truck on Bedford Ave. With a cone of 'Currants and Cream' in hand, we scurry through McCarren Park, finally making our way to Pete's nearby apartment.
    As the elevator opens directly into Pete's fourth-story pad, we're warmly greeted by his new puppy and blinded by the sunlight pouring through his floor-to-ceiling windows. A contemporary space with a clean and modern shell, Pete warms the environment with a healthy bouts of dark wood, abundant greenery and growing collection of taxidermy. "I love animals. I mean, I enjoy looking at alive ones more...," he jokes.

    After chatting with Pete and making our way to his well-equipped music room, we learn that he's another man of many talents, much like his two business partners. Having studied music in college, Pete belongs to a locally-based band called Level II. He's also started to experiment as a solo act, pairing up with his animator girlfriend to make animated music videos. The first, called Elk Grass, is "a simple song about finding a mate,” he modestly professes.

    See our visit to Pete's sun-drenched apartment, along with our detour to the Van Leeuwen truck on Bedford Ave.
  • CAN YOU TELL US ABOUT THE INSPIRATION FOR THE VAN LEEUWEN BRANDING AND GRAPHICS?

    We didn't want anything that would date really quickly, but we also wanted to make sure it was something you'd recognize right away as Van Leeuwen. Ben came up with the idea for the botanicals. The right shade of yellow was really hard to find though - everything we initially found was sickeningly bright. We ended up finding it in a General Motors vintage car color book from the 70s. Laura saw it and was like “That's it!”

  • AND YOU FOUND THE ORIGINAL TRUCK ON EBAY?

    Yea, the first truck was a 1988 Chevrolet Step Van from eBay. We paid $5,000 for it, but ended up spending a whole lot more to customize it. We hired this guy named Patrick who worked out of a yard in Astoria. We didn't draw up a design or anything - he pretty much just cut holes where we told him to, and found a way to get all of the equipment to fit. We added some chrome bumpers and grills and painted her with the shade of yellow we found in the pantone book.

  • We didn't want anything that would date really quickly, but we also wanted to make sure it was something you'd recognize right away as Van Leeuwen.

  • HOW LONG HAVE YOU BEEN IN THE NEIGHBORHOOD?

    Like nine years, mostly within these couple of blocks. Before that, I lived in Bushwick - actually more like Bed Stuy - where the two neighborhoods meet. It was my first spot in New York. After moving to Greenpoint, I was like “Oh yea, I've been missing an actual neighborhood.”

    But even when I first moved over here, Enid's was the only bar, there were no coffee shops, the only restaurants were Polish restaurants. But it's just exploded over here recently.

  • HOW DID THE APARTMENT END UP COMING TOGETHER?

    I didn't have much design inspiration. It's kind of a hodge podge of things I came across. The coffee table, I built that, so that was easy. The unit where here I keep all of my albums, I had a friend of mine build for me. And I love animals. I mean, I enjoy looking at alive ones more, but if I come across a taxidermied Wolverine, it's coming home with me, haha.

    The apartment might feel all over the place, and probably is. I'd rather a more disjointed, eccentric design setting, and be able to enjoy it, rather than saying “Oh that doesn't fit in here. I'm not going to have it anymore.”

  • SPEAKING OF ANIMALS, HOW LONG HAVE YOU HAD YOUR DOG?

    He was adopted from down the street. I had an old labrador for many years, but he died in October, so I just adopted him a few months ago. He's been a pretty good puppy, in the sense that I can just leave him here and he doesn't tear up the place. I don't know if he's the brightest dog, but he's a good learner, and a pretty good listener.

  • WHAT ABOUT ALL OF THE INSTRUMENTS?

    I play bass in a local band called Level II. Generally, we play at small venues around the city, but the project is always changing. For a couple of years, we did a perverted puppet show musical at an off-broadway theater in Midtown. Well, maybe not perverted, but it was definitely very adult. It was an awesome run. Nowadays, I don't have as much time to play, but I've been collaborating with my girlfriend on animated music videos, so that's kind of my new musical approach. The first song is called Elk Grass.

  • The apartment might feel all over the place, and probably is. I'd rather have a more disjointed, eccentric design setting, and be able to enjoy it...

  • Nowadays, I don't have as much time to play, but I'm still involved in making solo stuff. I've been collaborating with my girlfriend on animated music videos, so that's kind of my new musical approach.

for access to the complete article, please
SIGN IN OR REGISTER
– You May Also Like –
35
Holiday Gift Guide
Kile Hotchkiss | 11/14/2018
The joy of gift-giving can sometimes become a bit of an undertaking during the rush of the holiday season. With...
Read More
56
The TRNK Collection
Kile Hotchkiss | 10/18/2018
We’re incredibly proud to introduce The TRNK Collection - our self-designed product line, sold exclusively on TRNK. After our first...
Read More
35
Zachary Quinto and Miles McMillan’s Home in Architectural Digest
Tariq Dixon | 05/09/2018
We first met actor Zachary Quinto and his model/artist partner Miles McMillan via Instagram. One of us noticed Zach's follow...
Read More
35
The Guesthouse Opening Party
Tariq Dixon | 03/15/2018
Thanks to everyone who came out to the opening of our LA pop-up shop The Guesthouse at Platform...
Read More
56
Moodboard: Terracotta
Tariq Dixon | 01/18/2018
As we reflect on new ways to evolve our product assortment, incorporating more color is a definite priority. While a...
Read More
56
Suggestions for Small Spaces
Tariq Dixon | 01/15/2018
It’s crazy to think about, but I’m approaching my tenth year of living in NYC. Which means I have a...
Read More
Close Lightbox