{DESIGN PORTRAIT} Little Otja

I am so happy to introduce you today a Slovenian brand called Little Otja.

Little Otja is a home decor brand for children. The cute and colorful illustrations are just perfect to create a magical atmosphere in every nursery and kids room. Little Otja is a rabbit and he lives together with his friends in the Pine Forest.

By Little Otja you can find a cuddle bunny, cute wooden tray, kitchen towels, cards, art prints and much more. And what I like most is that you can easily combine them all together!

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The heart of the company is Nadja. This beautiful and talented lady is the creator of Little Otja. She comes up with all of the characters and draws them too. She’s an art historian and has previously worked on cultural heritage projects for various Slovenian institutions. She used to be the project manager and curator at the Museum of Puppetry in Ljubljana, before going on to establish her own company Pikto – a versatile creative agency working with clients to help them grow and realize their visions and focused on developing brands, identities and strategies
Nadja likes (in no particular order): cooking, drawing, plants, fruit, vegetables (including celery), playing, singing, and looking at pretty things of all sorts. She’s very busy all the time; even when she’s not working, she’s probably thinking about what to do next. Nadja would like to have a more slow and simple life some day, and she uses her free time to go on road trips and wander around the forest. She is a cat mom to an adopted, fluffy Persian princess called Kiki.

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Nadja, creator of Little Otja with the magical Pine Forest behind. Photo credit: Little Otja

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It is so great to have Nadja here with us telling more about the story of Little Otja.

Dear Nadja, thank you so much for being with us today. Please tell us how did you get the idea of creating Little Otja?
I’ve always been interested in many different things and I had ideas about creating something for children while I was still a university student. The first sketch of Otja the rabbit was done spontaneously, when I was just doodling on a piece of paper. His friends followed soon after and were spontaneous creations too. I made some prints featuring the characters and published them on my Facebook page. People responded in a very positive way, so I decided to print more of them. And it’s been like that ever since. It’s also worth mentioning that I’ve had the support and encouragement of GUD shop in Ljubljana from very early on. They saw potential in my work and decided to sell it in their lovely shop. So thanks for that, GUD shop!

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Please tell us more about Little Otja and each of his friends Nanna, Dolor, Ipsum and Lorem.
Otja and his friends live in the Pine Forest. This is the name of the town, as well as the woodland area surrounding it. Otja lives in a nice house on 8 Beaver Street. He’s a botanist and knows a lot about all kinds of plants: trees, shrubs, weeds, flowers, cactuses, etc. He has his own greenhouse and his hobby is walking around the forest and collecting cones. Otja is a bit eccentric, even for Pine Forest standards. For example, he never wears matching socks.
As far as his friends are concerned, I like to say that they’re a colourful bunch. Every one of them has a unique look and personality. First we have Lorem: he’s a bear and he’s also a software engineer. Then there’s Dolor the fox, a gymnast, and Nanna the lynx, a school teacher. Last but not least we have Ipsum — she’s a dormouse and a contemporary multimedia artist. And she’s French!

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Where did you get your inspiration?
I’m inspired by stripes and dots, by geometrical patterns and colours. By nature and taking walks in the forest, collecting leaves. By looking at trees and their trunks. I like pretty photographs and clever, witty children’s books. I get a lot of inspiration from my adopted Persian cat Kiki. Overall, you could say that I’m inspired by all kinds of pretty things.
Another source of inspiration is just regular, everyday life, including the big changes society is going through. Otja isn’t a fairy-tale character. He and his friends may live in an imaginary place, but they have modern lives. I hope that modern children and parents can relate to them. Also, I want to make children’s products that are not dumbed-down, too plasticky, or have questionable aesthetics. I think there’s far too much of that around already.

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How would you describe Little Otja in 3 words?
This is a tough one! After pondering for quite some time, this is what I came up with:
PLAYFUL, NATURE-FRIENDLY, HONEST.

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Are there any news about Little Otja you would like to share with us? 
2019 is an exciting year for us, as we’re coming up with plenty of new ideas. We’ve already released a new set of pins and pocket mirrors, which seem to be quite popular. We’re also doing custom art prints now, so you can have your name written on them. Next up are our own muslin baby swaddle blankets, which are coming to our online store in about two weeks. We also plan on making new cuddle buddy cushions in the near future. And of course, more illustrations and more characters. We would really like to create new stories about our Pine Forest friends, because I feel this is a very important aspect of Little Otja. But we’re a small team and it’s impossible to realize all of our ideas at once. So we have to go slowly — day by day, little by little.

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This year you expand your brand, so Otja will be for grown-ups. What expect us with your new brand Otja?
Even though Little Otja was primarily intended for children, I’ve noticed that more and more grown-ups are showing interest. These are people who enjoy aesthetically-pleasing products and use them to brighten up their days, give them to their loved ones or to decorate their homes. So we’ve decided to expand our brand with a line of products focused on adults, called Otja. We’ve already released a series of abstract art prints that fit nicely into living rooms or bedrooms. In the future we plan on creating more prints, as well as cushions, ceramics, and new dish towels.
Oh, and in case you’re worried about the fate of Little Otja — don’t be.  It isn’t going anywhere and will remain our brand for kids. And we will continue to pour our hearts into it.

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The test of the most cutest posters ever has been made by my kids.

How I know they love them? Oh, there are many nice stories I could tell you. But one is too sweet, so I want to share it with you. “Let be nice” Art Print was once hanging in the room of my daughter, one day I discovered it with a lipstick kiss on it, 2 things were clear immediately: she LOVES the poster and she has stolen my lipstick! :- )

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Thank you so much dear Nadja for this beautiful portrait and also to your team for the wonderful collaboration.

I am already so excited about everything what the future will bring to Little Otja!

Best wishes from France,

Arminka aka Petit Sourire

 

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