We were devastated to learn that our friend and colleague Nick Kruse died at the weekend after collapsing while participating in the Gobi March. We’re still piecing together exactly what happened, but we wanted to share some of our memories of Nick.
Matt: I worked with Nick for the last 3 and a half years in Shanghai and in that time I learned so much from him, about design, about business, and about life. He took huge pride in his work, and in the company he had helped to build.
After cycling his way into the office in the Shanghai summer heat, Nick would stand in front of the air-conditioner, hair flying in all directions, trying to cool down. He would be the voice of reason and of calm. He would frustrate and delight us. He would argue for hours about the difference between Helvetica Light Bold, and Helvetica Bold Light. He would go to faraway places and return with oddly-tasting gifts, but his greatest gift was the happiness he brought to everyone who met him. Shanghai and ReignDesign will never be the same without him.
Stephen: I first met Nick in 2007, shortly after I arrived in Shanghai. Like anyone who met him, we immediately hit it off. One thing I’ll always remember is when I first heard him speak Chinese – I was in complete awe. Back then, I could barely say ‘ni hao’ and apart from Chinese TV personality “da shan” I had never heard a foreigner speak Mandarin so well. I had to ask: “How did you learn to speak Chinese like that?!” His advice stuck with me: “Just speak!! And don’t’ be afraid to sound stupid. You’re *going* to sound stupid. But you’ll get better.”
Nick will always be remembered to me as the person who immediately lit up any room he entered, and who always made everyone feel welcome and a part of something big. He was never without an interesting or funny story to share, and was one of the most passionate and enthusiastic people I’ve ever known. I feel extremely fortunate for having known Nick, and he will always be an important part of my life.
Thinkey: I just can not believe such a sunny, funny and optimistic guy left us in such a sudden way.
I still remember the first time we met. On the game we played Nick had to perform Furongjiejie. He didn’t like to do that. But when he began, he tried his best and performed so seriously, that delighted all of us and lead to a big laugh. At that moment, I said to myself the man who tries so hard in a game will surely make his place on anything he want to do.
I still remember the talks about career and ideal we had on MSN. He was quite busy in that period. But he talked to me so patiently to help me to make sure what kind of things I really want to do. He told me to take my time to do whatever I like, since that’s my life. So, Nick, take your time to do whatever you like, that’s your life!
Anna: Nick was the person who got me to come to Shanghai in the first place. I had no real intention to go to China and it was him who told me about it over the phone in a job interview – which he finished with the sentence: “you would need to come here within 2 weeks.” – off i was.
During the time when we nearly fell apart as a team it was him who invested and believed in us first, and started the idea of our own company.
You could see how enthusiastic he was when he got sentimental late at night too, he would always share his ideas then. Nick dared things and inspired me to do the same, to anticipate something positive and dare to go for it. His cheeky sense of humor is a very smart way of showing his opinions although he would deliberately drive people mad angry with it and enjoy it too.
I saw and was around Nick almost every normal day of more than the last three years. And his passing away leaves a big hole in my reality which i find very hard to accept. I have to keep reminding myself that i wont see him again, that he wont be back. He will be missed dearly.
Mark: Nick could teach lessons though laughing. Not the nervous or sarcastic laugh which can be all too common. Nick was a man of heartfelt, from the soul, genuine laughter. The kind that let you know you were heard. The kind that reminded you not to laugh sarcastically. And that made you like him instantly.
I didn’t know Nick for that long, but he had a way of reminding you of old friends. That college roommate who always had a joke. The opinionated guy in art studio who actually knew what he was talking about. The high school friend who always got you in trouble when he said, “Wouldn’t it be funny if we …” He had a bit of them all. But he was also his own blend of courage, intelligence, and tenacity which made him so unique. He will be missed.
Todd: Like a few others at ReignDesign, Nick was the reason I moved to China. I was looking for adventure, perspective, and a challenge – he delivered on all three counts. I will always remember our designer vs. developer bouts of witty banter (okay, maybe no one else enjoyed them) and those late night strategy sessions over a beer. Nick pushed me to prove my big ideas. Stop the talk and just do it.
In our last conversation, the night before he left for the Gobi March, he thanked me for my efforts at ReignDesign. Pig-headed as I am, I was dismissive, telling him we haven’t arrived yet and to save it. I’ll never have the opportunity to truly thank him – for his support, friendship, and enduring trust. He was a good friend to the end. I’ll miss you, Nick.