Design Crush: Dick Bruna's Miffy
If we were to name one designer that has inspired us and had the most influence on our work over the last 5 years it would 100% be Dick Bruna, best known of course for his rabbit character Miffy, or Nijntje as she's known in Holland. Anyone visiting our house (in real life or through the squares of Instagram!) would probably assume that Miffy has always been a part of our lives but actually neither of us remember seeing much of her as a kid in England - my life mostly revolved around Eric Hill's Spot the Dog! It was only after we'd started hello DODO that we bought a Miffy book from the Tate Modern shop and she bounced in to our lives. It didn't take us long to fall down the rabbit hole (sorry, lots of bunny references here!) and become completely besotted with Dick Bruna's work in all of it's guises though. Although we didn't grow up with Miffy it was only a few years ago that I realised that other work by Dick Bruna was a part of my childhood when Jam bought me a bunch of hardboard cards (I think they're a game of snap/pairs) and I realised that I DID have them as a child and the bright and bold primary colour illustrations were so familiar to me it was bizarre.
Since becoming Miffy-obsessed she has found her way in to all sorts of corners of our lives. She is the first thing (other than our pug Hero!) to greet you when you enter our house in the form of a massive light. There's pictures of her large and tiny dotted all around our house. She's on mugs, bags, magnets and then there's our most treasured Miffy/Dick Bruna collection...postcards.
When on holiday in Amsterdam (the Netherlands being Bruna and Miffy's home) we discovered that many tourist and kids shops (yes we ARE big kids) had Miffy postcards. We THEN discovered that there was rather a few different ones to collect! In 2016 we took it one step further and went on a little Miffy pilgrimage! We went on a trip to Amsterdam, Rotterdam and Dick Bruna's home of Utrecht. Whilst there we were on a constant treasure hunt for Dick Bruna postcards that we didn't have! If you're a lover of artist and illustration postcards we can highly recommemd Art Unlimited (Strooijonkerstraat 7) in Amsterdam, it's an incredible place and you need at least an hour in there to browse the rows and rows of postcards alphabetised by artist.
We were BEYOND excited to visit both Dick Bruna's replicated studio in Utrecht's Centraal Museum which is conveniently just across the street from the Miffy Museum. Now, as you'll see below we had a LOT of fun in the Miffy Museum and it was pretty quiet being September....we possibly maybe looked a bit mental though as a childless couple! JUST LOOK AT THOSE LOCKERS THOUGH. The Miffy Museum is incredible for kids and Bruna's studio utterly fascinating for parents (and us). We particularly loved seeing all of the objects and Miffy's people had sent Bruna from all over the World.
At the time that we visited Utrecht in 2016 it was just 6 months before Bruna died and although we heard that he had poor health there was this magical feeling that he was there somewhere. We found the Miffy mosaic (see below) in Jeruzalemstraat where his attic studio was and we hung around there for ages fantasising that we might actually see him. Eventually we gave up and continued our Miffy hunt! Which included the lovely bronze statue of her made by Bruna's son Marc and even Miffy pedestrian lights at a crossing.
Dick Bruna passed away on 16th February 2017....on my birthday would you believe?! In a way it makes me feel more linked to him though. He has been a huge inspiration to us and although our work isn't exactly the same, our love of very simple illustration, black lines and primary colours definitely feels like it has a slight affinity with Bruna. So where does our Miffy obsession take us next? I'd LOVE to visit Japan on a Miffy hunt as she has a huge cult following there. We'd love to revisit the Netherlands too and see if there's any postcards we've not discovered yet! We don't actually have that many Miffy books yet either so that definitely needs addressing! And although I do have a Dick Bruna tattoo I need a Miffy one!
Are you a Miffy fan too? :o)