There's something about llamas that just immediately puts a smile on your face. Maybe it's because we don't see many of them over here which gives them a rare, elusive quality. Or maybe it's because they look cuddly, are a bit quirky and have a good cheeky expression – and that in turn makes us smile.
I've loved llamas since I was little. Apparently the first time I saw one I asked my mum, 'Why's that sheep got such a long neck?' I keep hearing that they're the next big trend, following on from unicorns, flamingos and mermaids last year – and I for one couldn't be happier!
We've seen some strong South and Central American influences in the global trends recently. The bright colours they use in the home and in fashion are still very influential, with things like cacti, flamingos, sugar skulls and Aztec patterns featuring in our Bohemian Brights range. Llamas are a natural progression of that, featuring increasingly across fashion, greeting cards and stationery.
We've developed a great range of llama-themed homeware, including mugs, bedding, pyjamas, throws, cushions, runners, strollers and bags – and customers seem to love it on social media, with lots of people posting to say ‘I can’t believe I’ve seen this in Asda and it’s only this much’.
We’re all really proud whenever we see posts like that and it’s such a great feeling to see customers loving your products as much as you do. I check Instagram in particular every day to see what people are saying. Here are some of the recent posts about our llamas that I've seen:
I think it's the quirky characters on homeware that our customers really like. It started a few years ago with pugs – our customers would love their personality and share photos of their pugs and any pug-themed products on Facebook and Instagram. Then it spread into other animals, retro and kitsch designs and then into unicorns, which have been hugely popular for the last year or so.
As a designer it's great being able to work with a character like a llama – the sort of animal you don't see every day – and adapt it for a product you will want to use every day. These llama products are unique to us, so I love the idea of people having these pieces in their homes and the thought of them putting a smile on their faces when they use them.
It’s really nice seeing them come to life, especially the ceramics, as you can’t always imagine quite how it will translate through to a shaped product. We have to pass certain technical tests; things like making sure they don’t break in transit, making sure the shaped mugs are practical to use as well as nice looking. For instance we had to be careful to get the length of the llama's neck right on the mug – if it was too short it wouldn't look like a llama, but if it was too long it would be too difficult to drink from.
I really like the set of four stacked mugs – that’s my favourite item in the range. It looks really quirky and I haven’t seen that anywhere else. I also really like the llama-shaped cushion because it’s not just on a square, but because it’s in the shape of a llama it feels like you’ve got a pet on the sofa there with you.
We’ll be launching some llama stationery later this year. We’re currently locking down our plans for spring-summer 2019 but I see llamas staying around in designs for a while yet.
The global trends are still doing well and South America is a big part of that. We’re seeing more Central and South American TV programmes and documentaries and even the food. The bright colours they use in the home and in fashion are still very influential.