Jay Cover illustrates the weird and wonderful world of the Woset brand
Selling everything from wooden building blocks to explorer helmets (a creative take on a bucket hat), Woset aims to create a world of imaginative items for kids. Created by husband and wife duo Brad and Jenna Holdgrafer, the brand creates products that aim to spark storytelling, enable open play and have multiple uses.
The founders and art directors worked with an array of creators to help bring the world of Woset to life, including animator Zac Wax, digital studio Mouthwash, toy designer Waka Waka and illustrator Jay Cover, with whom Brad had already worked on a book project. several years earlier.
“Me and Brad were talking about our lives, the way we look at the world, and our philosophy towards creating things,” Cover told CR. Inspired by their two children, they wanted to build a children’s business that followed design principles rather than being market driven. “When Brad and Jenna designed Woset, we had some very open discussions about our thoughts on children’s books and objects and how many of them seem didactic or gendered,” Cover explains.
“We wanted to create something that would engage the imagination of children. Create clothes and toys that aren’t too specific, so kids can imagine what the toys do, rather than having a specific function, like a set of trucks or dinosaurs. It’s about opening up the game’s settings, much more like taking a cardboard box and turning it into something, a blank sheet of paper in the form of a set of wooden shapes.
Cover’s role in the brand has evolved by creating its visual side and filling it with characters that reflect its principles. “Brad took the name Woset in the Closet from Dr Seuss, which sums up the idea nicely,” he says. “I wanted to populate Woset with a set of characters where there’s a lot and there’s room for more… maybe not as familiar as a robot or an adventurer or a superhero, the tropes kind of well-trodden characters you find in things made for children. “
The names of the characters are inspired by Cover’s Isle of Man house, while aesthetically they are mainly the illustrator’s interpretations of different emotions. “I also like their banality, the simplicity of being ordinary, not particularly special or ambitious, the characters usually do or try to do something that makes them happy, rather than trying to conquer a mountain or a monster,” he says.
After populating the world of Woset, Cover also created a logo that would seem cohesive with the rest of the brand, although the end result is more of a placeholder pattern meant to evolve over time. “I like that way of not branding, of course, it has all the tropes of a way of doing things that might look like a brand, that’s just how things that are consistent appear. But it’s not necessarily a strategy to keep everything the same and branded over time, it’s more about putting something in writing that says what it needs to say and then that is likely to happen. ‘be changed when the time comes,’ explains the illustrator.
It might even expand to an entirely different set of branding imagery in the future. “We discussed the possibility of having another illustrator or creator completely reinvent the whole world of Woset at some point, such as bringing in a new curator to change the direction so that the world that I have opened completely evolves into something else. Cover adds.