Lovers of nonsense, fun and chaos, the Elves caught up with Karen Mennie — director and designer at Australian company Glottogon — to find out more about their quirky and attractive range of games and puzzles that celebrate the joy of make-believe.
How are your puzzles and games different? We use bold, vibrant colours — we love colour and we use it often! We use original illustrations from emerging and established artists and we only use each illustration for one product – you won’t see the same repetitive image over-and-over in our collections. We believe madly that beautiful products are much more fun to play with for kids and adults and we spend lots of time making sure our illustrations are magical and unique… the more crazy and chaotic the better! Our products are easy to use and easy to tidy away; plus they look wonderful on the playroom shelf!
What’s the secret to an engaging puzzle? For us; the first step is the image, layered with lots of colour. We want crazy, interesting characters and attractive imagery that both kids and adults will get joy from revealing.
What are the biggest lessons children learn through puzzling? Puzzles and pre-schooler games such as Domino and Memory are a great way to develop concentration and patience, problem solving and hand-eye coordination, and social skills (learning to take turns, to win, and to lose). Children between two and four years who play with puzzles have been recognised as having better developed spatial skills and more ability in science, technology, engineering and mathematics subjects (more).
How did you come up with the ideas behind your games? I decided wanted to design games and puzzles that were a little more unique than what I could find on the High Street. I love make-believe, and have always loved to daydream — becoming a parent has reminded me how delightful it is to use my imagination, to question the smallest of things, and to always ask “why?” So one day I thought, “why not?” and started to find a way to source and manufacture our own products.
Can you tell us about your eco values? We strive to ensure our products are not only made well, but also made to last. We use recycled materials, vegetable-based inks and hand-craft every single one of our boxes… and that’s a lot of boxes! We design each one to be super strong and for the puzzles and games to be mega durable so that everything lasts and continues to be fun for years to come. We have no desire at all to add to the landfill.
What’s great about designing in Australia? It’s so full of opportunity — the attitude to life is very much ‘can do’ and that helps hugely when you are following your dreams. Plus there is the little matter of sunshine – such a fantastic motivator!
What do you love most about what you do? The truly EPIC feeling when I receive one of our new product samples for the first time – it’s so exciting to see all the design parts together in real life (as my four-year-old would say!).
What’s your overall vision (now getting to the really deep questions!)? Play – Dream – Fly is our motto. JM Barrie, author of Peter Pan, puts it best: “I do believe in fairies, I do! I DO!!”.
You recently launched in Europe. Congratulations! What does this mean for your range? The short answer is – it will grow! We have been inundated with requests for new themes and products… did someone say Vikings??!
Do you have any particular favourites? Gosh, this is a tough question… I adore the Dino Derby BIG puzzle as it has so many hidden characters that you find something new each time you play. My kids are four and two which is a perfect age to play Memory Match Pirate – with a huge dollop of cheating I need to add!!
Biggest play tip for parents? Laugh, have fun, and remind yourself how fabulous it is to just play – playtime is such a gift.
Where does the name Glottogon come from? We get asked often about the name of our company, which is not really surprising as it is a little odd! It seemed that I had spent forever dreaming up a name for our business… one that would be different, memorable and; at the same time; mean something special and unique. I often listen to Sam (aka the husband) speaking with his Mamma. They are Greek, so they don’t really talk quietly… it’s kind of a festive shout to and from each other at ALL times — they don’t whisper, they usually speak loudly, and they often just YELL! And so I decided upon a bundle of Greek words which, in turn, became GLOTTOGON: Glo-tog-uh-nn from Greek meaning “story, tongue, language” and “generation” — it more or less means “the beginning of the story” or “about a new generation”. I think it’s apt, certainly unique, and I hope you agree — a little bit special!
Check out the entire Glottogon range.