As book fanatics with young kids, we were blown away by the originality of Owl and Dog Playbooks. These alternative toddler books are imaginative, playful, beautifully designed and so unique, they are the perfect pairing for us. We immediately felt compelled to get in touch to tell them how brilliant they
are, which resulted in us proudly becoming a stockist and being lucky enough to interview founders Claudio Ripol and Yeonju Yang. If you haven't seen them yet then you can see the collection here!
Who are the people behind Owl and Dog Playbooks? Tell us a little bit about yourselves...
Owl & Dog Playbooks is established by two designers, Claudio Ripol and Yeonju Yang. Our academic background is product design, and professionally trained as product and spacial designers. Since 2011 we started our design consultancy Yang Ripol Design Studio (www.yangripol.com), and since then we've been working on various design projects together.
Where did the idea come from?
In 2016 we had been working on the design of toys as part of a project with Muji, and were coming up with all sorts of concepts, we also started working quite a bit on package design, which led us to understand and learn more about printing. We got fascinated by the idea of working on a children's book with our product design mentality, looking them more as a physical object to be interacted with. We thought we could bring something new to the market as we had lots of ideas which did not seem to have been explored much before.
There are many beautiful books with an element of interactivity, but we are really aiming to re-think the format itself, so that children can experience the book in a new way.
What are Owl and Dog Playbooks all about?
In our name Owl represents wisdom, the 'Reading' and Dog represents 'Playing', basically what we try to do is to encourage young children to interact with the books in playful way, and all of the books follow the same guiding principle.
What was the process from concept to realisation?
Initially we continuously bounce ideas off each other and work collaboratively until we are happy that an idea is solid. Regarding the development process it does depend on the title. Sometimes we have the idea on how the book works, physically, and try to see how a child would interact with it, and we start to give it a story afterwards.
Sometimes, we think about a character in the book, and develop the format around it. We make lots of prototypes, and see how things could work. The process is still under development for us, we learn continuously from our printers, our warehouse, our stockists and customers.
Were there any stumbling blocks along the way?
Well yes, many. As we don't have any publishing background, we've been learning all the process as we go, from finding a printer to distributing. So, there were many things we wish we could have known, but that's a part we enjoy, too.
Where does your creativity come from? What inspires you?
We always liked working on toy design and things for children, and since we have our 3 year old son, we couldn't stop thinking about ideas. A cardboard box is a world of possibilities to a child, and this almost thrifty perspective often inspires us to come up with low-tech ideas for toys. As we have learnt from our son, why does a book have to be a set of pages to be put on a shelf, when it can be a monster, or a mask?
Aesthetically we get inspired by all sorts of sources, as we still work on product design and branding, so we might get visual clues from what we do daily.
Have you any advice for anyone looking to self-publish?
I'd say just go for it.
If you don't know about a certain area, ask around, find partners to collaborate! You will overcome the problem when you get to that stage, but if you try to have everything resolved and planned from the beginning it's easy to get stuck.
Is there anyone you admire in the world of children's publishing/illustration?
There are many. We are fond of Soviet picture books, Vladimir Lebedev is one example. Also, Bruno Munari's work has been always an inspiration for us.
What's next for Owl and Dog?
We have a new book, 'Flat Zoo' coming soon, which we are so thrilled about, as it is our fifth title but also in a way an idea that has been around our design studio for many years and we could never give it a proper outlet, until now!.
We are also developing some ideas to release later this year.