The Animals Observatory
The Animals Observatory, headed by Laia Aguilar, makes creative clothes for kids that are comfortable, easy to wear, and playful. “Be a good animal, true to your instincts” This is a motto that Laia regularly goes back to, whether she’s creating a new collection or advising her kids. Staying true to her instincts has done Laia well. Fascinated by art, architecture and seventies-era painting, the former Bobo Choses creative director creates graphic, spirited children’s clothing, with animals taking centre stage in her designs. Each season, through its collections, The Animals Observatory takes us on a journey to a new world, one seen through the clever eyes of children and the honest hearts of animals; where love, equality and kindness triumph, and scratchy wool and fussy fashions are rejected. Instinctive, modern and made to last, The Animals Observatory makes pieces that kids love wearing, and that keenly capture the lively spirit of childhood.
INTERVIEW WITH LAIA AGUILAR
Creative director, THE ANIMALS OBSERVATORY
Tell us about the genesis of the brand. Why was it so highly anticipated?I met Jan Andreu, my partner at The Animals Observatory, when I had left Bobo Choses for various reasons. Bobo Choses is the brand I founded and where I worked as Art Director for seven years. It was both a happy and sad moment, a very intense one. Jan Andreu is an unusual businessman; rational and intuitive. He manages the business side of the brand, I manage the creative side.
Many other brands have followed a very similar style to the one I developed at Bobo. I imagine this has helped in the buzz created around The Animals Observatory. It is an honour, a challenge, a responsibility and a gift. I feel happy and more alive than ever.
What did you want to create with this new brand, The Animals Observatory? What the brand values and the world you want to create with it?The world of children is endless. I have a lot of respect for children’s instinct, for their ability to question the world of grown-ups with a blend of rationality and fantasy that most people lose with age. I would like The Animals Observatory to be a true reflection of that instinct and children to see themselves, in all their richness, reflected in my designs and in the brand’s world. I would also like parents to remember the child they once were when they see their kids dressed in The Animals Observatory. I always keep in mind that sentence from [Antoine de] Saint-Exupéry in The Little Prince, ‘All grown-ups were once children, but only few of them remember it’. There are things we should never forget.
We can see that a lot of thought went into what children’s clothing should be like (especially with your very playful Manifesto). Where does this creativity and this philosophy come from?I keep looking at life through the eyes of a child. This ability has grown even further since I became a mother. It seems impossible to me to think about life without drawing, without finding new illustrations, photos, paintings or inspiring moments. My capacity for wonder is always wide awake.
What are you the most proud of in this collection?What I am most proud of is finding a language that is different from the one I developed at Bobo Choses. It is important to reinvent yourself, otherwise you run the risk of becoming bored. And if you get bored, you inevitably end up boring others. Fashion is similar to technology or science in that sense: If you want to become a benchmark in your sector you must constantly innovate. That is the challenge. Something else I feel very proud of is the team around me. They are extraordinary professionals who believe in me and in our ability to create something of value together; a new perspective to enrich the wardrobes of children the world over.
What were your sources of inspiration for the brand's first collection?What are your creative secrets? How do you work?
I don’t really have any creative secrets. I work all day because my work is my way of living: to seek beauty. I believe this is the key: to feel passionate about what you do. Yesterday, for instance, my children and I painted the street we live in with coloured chalks. I came up with a couple of ideas that I would like to develop [from that].
What is your dream?My dream is my present: I live in the countryside with my family, surrounded by my friends and by forest and beauty. I devote my body and soul to a job I like. It is important to have feasible dreams that you can fight for until you make them happen. A few years ago, my husband and I made a list with the ten dreams we would like to fulfil. We have already completed eight of them, and we’re about to accomplish one more: to build our own house.
Where does Smallable come into all of this?I will always be thankful to Smallable for supporting me when I was still unknown. This is also an example of what I mentioned earlier: Smallable puts passion into its work and that doesn’t go unnoticed. From my point of view, it is also an example of good business management. This is a success all of us celebrate.
Can you give us a few of your top addresses or secret spots in Catalonia?I live in Empordà, which is like an outline of the best of Catalonia. No landscape is more beautiful than a forest of pines embracing the Mediterranean Sea. I would recommend a walk next to the sea through Sant Martí d´Empuries and a visit to its archaeological museum, which includes wonders from Greco-Roman culture. Afterwards, for lunch, you could visit the restaurant El Pebre [Plaça Major, 1], in Bàscara, where I go for lunch every week. Alternatively, I would also recommend that you discover Cap de Creus, where you can see to what extent the tramuntana (a northerly wind in the region) is capable of shaping the stones. These are the two opposite poles of the beautiful land where I live.