Designer Desire: Jan Pieńkowski

Mosaic of Jan Pieńkowski artwork | H is for Home

Having not grown up in the UK, Jan Pieńkowski unfortunately passed me by until recently. Luckily, I’ve discovered his wonderful, award-winning illustrations as an adult.

Today’s kids will know him as the co-creator (with Helen Nicoll) of Meg and Mog. People of my age, will know his earlier graphic work from his time working on the BBC’s Watch children’s programme in the early 70s – where he first met Nicoll.

We just have to share the the Jessie Gertrude Townsend’s limerick that accompanied his illustration in their Annie, Bridget and Charlie collaboration… you’ll know why!

H is for Horrid young Hannah,
Who has the most shocking bad manner.
She went out to dine
With a party of nine
And she ate every single banana.

His illustrated children’s books (many of which are still in publication) are readily available on WHSmith, Amazon, eBay and Etsy.

Click here to see some more of our Designer Desire series.

Jan Pieńkowskicredit

Designer Desire: Mary Blair

Mosaic of Mary Blair artworks | H is for Home

If you were a child of the 50s, 60s, 70s and beyond, the illustrations of Mary Blair will be really familiar to you. She was responsible for the concept artwork on many Walt Disney films. Bambi? Cinderella? Alice in Wonderland? Peter Pan? That was her!

She designed a breathtaking, multi-storey mural inside Disney’s Contemporary Resort which opened in 1971 (see the top right image in our collage and the film of its making at the bottom of this post). It’s 90′ tall and consists of 18 thousand hand-painted tiles!

The styling and colouring of the original it’s a small world installation is also her work. It began life as part of the 1964 New York World’s Fair’s UNICEF pavilion thereafter moving to Florida’s Walt Disney World. It has since been followed by later versions in Tokyo Disneyland, Disneyland Paris and Hong Kong Disneyland.

She was one of the main illustrators on the Little Golden Books series of children’s books (Another Disney project). Her output can be found in I Can Fly, Little Verses and Baby’s House.

Mary Blair also designed advertising and, on occasion, packaging for Meadow Gold milk, cheese and ice cream, Blue Bell children’s clothing, E-Z underwear, Hanes Underwear, Pall Mall cigarettes, Dutch Boy Paints and Baker’s instant chocolate flavor mix.

You can find numerous books illustrated by Blair, as well as books about her and her work on Amazon.

Check out some of our other past Designer Desire members here!

Mary Blair and Walt Disney

Image credits:

Flickr | Pinterest


Ceramic Mural from Animation Scoop on Vimeo.

Designer Desire: Sean Sims

Mosaic of Sean Sims designs | H is for Home

This week, we’re drawing your attention to the fantastic work of Teeside-born and Brighton-based Sean Sims. We first mentioned him in our Tuesday Huesday series way back in 2012 and he’s produced lots more great designs in the years since then.

His work ranges from children’s book illustrations, aircraft in-flight meal snack boxes, posters, greetings cards, gift wrap, magazine covers… even a jigsaw puzzle! Last autumn, he designed one of the 44 Snowdogs that were auctioned off on behalf of The Martlets Hospice.

His style is immediately recognisable – with hints of Alain Greé, Miroslav Sasek and Kenneth Townsend. No wonder we love his work!

You can get a range of his designs in his own webshop or on Not on the High Street.

Portrait of Sean Sims painting his Snowdogcredit

Image credits: Agency Rush | King & Mcgaw | Yellow House

Charity Vintage: Denmark… a lovely land

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'Denmark... a lovely land' vintage children's book

We recently completed our World Dolls Series blog posts. Our series took us to Norway but it didn’t make a detour into any of the neighbouring Scandinavian countries.

Denmark… a lovely land, is set out as ‘a letter from Denmark’. It’s addressed to ‘Nina’ and gives her an insight into the country with the help of a music score, black & white photos and lovely colour illustrations. The book looks to date from the 1950s and was written by Inger Oppenhejm with illustrations by Laus Lauesen.

It’s up for sale by & in support of The Martlets Hospice* at a ‘buy it now’ price of £13.50 with free postage.

*The Martlets Hospice is an independent charity, caring for adults with a life limiting disease where a cure is no longer possible, in the Brighton and Hove area. Specialist palliative care is provided for patients. Support is given to families and carers during the patients’ illness and into bereavement.



World Dolls Series: Norway

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World Dolls Series 'Norway' vintage children's book

We’ve reached Norway in our World Dolls Series – a much-anticipated destination after a tough couple of weeks in Russia and a long trip over.

Front inside cover from World Dolls Series 'Norway' vintage children's book

 There are great illustrations by Frank Bird for this edition.

Asa and Karl, Norway national dolls from World Dolls Series 'Norway' vintage children's book

Our guides are Asa & Karl – a colourful, friendly pair with an unmistakable spring in their step.

Lapp and teepee in World Dolls Series 'Norway' vintage children's book

Karl is a Lapp and hails from the far North so we head there first – the coach has a few more miles to do yet!

Lapps in World Dolls Series 'Norway' vintage children's book

Karl shows us the traditional way of life in Lapland and we meet the lovely reindeer.

Lapp child with reindeer in World Dolls Series 'Norway' vintage children's book

Then it’s back down South…

Fishermen in World Dolls Series 'Norway' vintage children's book

…where we take in the picturesque fishing harbours and get stuck into some cod.

Fishermen and cod in World Dolls Series 'Norway' vintage children's book

Sightseeing in Oslo follows…

Asa, Norway national doll from World Dolls Series 'Norway' vintage children's book

… and some serious R&R in the surrounding forests and on the ski slopes.

Ski jump with reindeer in World Dolls Series 'Norway' vintage children's book

We’ll be naturals before long – we don’t want to get shown up by the local 3-year-olds!

Skiers with reindeer in World Dolls Series 'Norway' vintage children's book

The long, hard graft of that Russian farm is a distant memory.

Mountain village with reindeer in World Dolls Series 'Norway' vintage children's book

We just about squeezed the coach onto the ferry for a trip down the fjords. Simply stunning!

Fiords in World Dolls Series 'Norway' vintage children's book

Thanks Asa & Karl – our spirits are refreshed.

Asa and Karl, Norway national dolls from World Dolls Series 'Norway' vintage children's book

Hopefully we’ll make a trip to Norway in the real world one day – and we pray it looks like Mr Bird’s illustrations! 

Maths Class

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'Let's Explore Mathematics' children's book cover

We bet there are quite a few of you out there for whom the words maths class (or double maths!) strikes fear into your hearts.

Number 2 illustration Number 8 illustration

Number 3 illustration Number 6 illustration

Would a gorgeous text book like this have made it any better?

'Let's Explore Mathematics' children's book

How many houses? illustration

We picked it up at the local market recently and were really taken by the interesting exercises set by the author LG Marsh – and even more so by the fabulous illustrations by Chris Hoggett.

Who is the tallest? illustration

How tall? illustration

Let’s Explore Mathematics dates from the 1960s and has a distinctive style from the period.

How much? illustration

Spotting numbers illustration

The graphics are captivating, charming, clever and colourful (how many Cs is that readers?)

Looking for triangles illustration

How many bottles? illustration

 This is Book 1 of 4, so there’s a lovely series to collect. If we have 1 of 4 books, what percentage do we own (stop it now!!)

How many rungs on a ladder? illustration

Eight soldiers illustration

It’s published by A & C Black Ltd; if you’re looking to track down some vintage copies – we noticed that there are a few on eBay & Amazon at the moment.