Weather-obsessed duo Pygmy Cloud share their east London studio with a brood of grumpy bears, countless clouds and stacks of sunshine. Their graphic, playful designs would brighten even the gloomiest of mornings and (despite bear’s best attempts to maintain a sullen disposition) give out an infectiously happy vibe. We spoke to Diana about their work, their studio and what can be done to cheer up that bear…
Hello Diana! How is the weather today over at Pygmy Cloud headquarters?
It is sunny outside, but the Pygmy Cloud HQ is full of happy clouds today – just how we like it!
Can you tell us a little bit about yourselves?
I’m Diana and I started Pygmy Cloud in 2011 when I started making little felt decorations to brighten up my rental flat in north London. A friend of mine and fellow crafter saw them and suggested I set up an online shop to sell my wares. I designed some products and had a few sales but Pygmy Cloud really came to life when Dave joined. We started making toys based on his illustrations – mainly grumpy bears and beardy plushies, which then proved to be really popular. Since then we’ve been bouncing ideas off of one another collaborating on making a range of products from stationery to toys to home decor.
How would you describe your work?
Our work is very playful and appeals to children and adults with a young heart. Being from England, we love talking about the weather – but we like to put a happy spin on dreary British rain and clouds in our products. We only reserve grumpiness for our bears.
We love your shop tagline: ‘A little brand of bears, beards and cloudy stuff.’ If a bearded bear went on an adventure, what do you think he would do?
He likes his adventures to be BEARable, slightly inPAWSable and he would cause a bit of PANDAmonium! Why yes, we do love a pun or two!
Why is bear always so grumpy? Did someone steal his honey?
We’re not actually sure ourselves. We’ve tried everything to cheer him up: jelly beans, a fairground slide, hot air balloon ride. But nothing has worked. We even built him his very own treehouse and invited And Smile’s panda to play and gave him ice cream – we still couldn’t turn that frown upside down!
Where do your ideas come from and how do your designs develop?
Dave and I both bring different ideas to the table. We often take characters from Dave’s doodles and turn them into plush toys. We start with a sketch and then make samples out of felt and tweak them until they are just right, before settling on a final product. I mostly make the weather-themed products and like to use bold and graphic shapes. We make our brand cohesive by sticking to a similar colour palette through out the designs – mostly grey, pastel blue and rust brown to create the wonderful world of Pygmy Cloud.
What’s your favourite thing to make?
My favourite product to make is the Grumpy Bear Cushions. I just feel so delighted looking at his little grumpy face when he’s finished. When we sell them at craft fairs, people often say they remind them of a friend of theirs, which always makes me chuckle.
Grumpy Bear cushions, £28 each
Can you describe your workspace or studio?
We share a studio with a couple of graphic designers and cartoonist in Hackney. It is really nice to have a work space outside of our home so we can be in ‘work mode’. It’s lovely and light, so it is great for taking product photos as well as being a nice place to work. It is an added expense of course, but well worth it, I think. I feel more motivated and focused there and it has really boosted our little business.
What’s your most popular product?
Our most popular product by far is the Cloud Coasters sets. They are decorative way to protect tables in anyones’s home. I’m glad they are such a hit!
Cloud coasters, £14 for a set of four
Finally, what’s your favourite sort of British weather?
Although I am happy prancing around in my wellies in the rain, I have to say that nothing beats a bit of sunshine. Relaxing in the sun is one of my favourite pass times, I think I must have been a cat in a previous life.