Claudio Ripol and Yeonju Yang, co-founders of Yang:Ripol design studio, founded Owl & Dog Playbooks to publish “books to play, toys to read”. Its The Adventures of 3 Little Bears won the 0-8 category at the British Book Design & Production Awards 2017. They spoke to Natasha Onwuemezi about their latest title.
Where did you get the idea for Helping Hen?
With all our books, we tend to start with the format. For this particular book, our starting point was the idea of transformation, then we started thinking about transforming from one character to another. We are very fond of fables and animal stories, so we came up with a simple storyline about a hen and fox, with the surprise of the farmer making a final appearance to save the day, like the hunter in Little Red Riding Hood. From there we had a long process of prototyping to get the illustrations to work in so many different ways: as a story, horizontally; as a farmer, vertically; and as a hen when closed.
What do you think of the publishing industry?
We have learnt a lot in terms of production, and we also have a clearer view about how the bookselling process, and shop placement works. In any case we still feel like outsiders, and I guess this will always be the case as we also run a design business, which I think is crucial in our understand- ing of what a book is and what it can be. I think we have much more to learn.
You have signed a distribution deal with Thames & Hudson—how is that going?
After the T&H distribution deal, we have been able to concentrate on design and production. It has been incredible at getting the book out there—we’re fortunate to work with such an outstanding and professional team.
What’s coming up next?
In spring we’ll be releasing another book, about chess for children, created by product design legend Daniel Weil. This is essentially why we decided to create a publishing business in the first place, so we could collaborate with creatives outside the publishing business to create new and refreshing ideas, and I hope readers—both children and parents—are going to feel this energy and enjoy these titles.
Claudio Ripol and Yeonju Yang