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Must Have: Plush Dolls from Plushood

Meet the neighbors of Plushood, a series of Israeli plush dolls created by industrial designer Shlomi Schillinger and illustrator/designer Tamar "TAM" Moshkovitz. Joske, Vigo, Miss Moss, Jose, Pinto, and Dolores may not always get along, but they're always a ton … Read More

By / June 27, 2008

Meet the neighbors of Plushood, a series of Israeli plush dolls created by industrial designer Shlomi Schillinger and illustrator/designer Tamar "TAM" Moshkovitz. Joske, Vigo, Miss Moss, Jose, Pinto, and Dolores may not always get along, but they're always a ton of fun.  All the dolls have colorful fleece bodies, vinyl faces with irresistible silk screen expressions, and a extensive character history–not to mention online animations.

Plushood dolls are available online through sites including Modern Tribe, Release the Freaks, and Modern Baby Barn. You can also check them out at the Plushood website and on Flickr.

To learn more about these unique stuffed dolls, I spoke with Shlomi and TAM, who turned out to be a couple of creative characters themselves!

Jewcy: Tell us a little about your backgrounds in design.

Shlomi: After two weeks of studying law I came to the conclusion that I can't ignore my passion for design, so I started learning industrial design at HIT (Israel). My first job was at a design office, but dealing with plastic engineering wasn’t my thing (even though the office was on the front line of Tel Aviv beach). Since than I have been working as a production designer, designing sets for TV commercials and for fashion catalogs. Today I work with some of the biggest advertising agencies and fashion companies in Israel. Side by side with my work I found time to design products for my enjoyment – one of them is the Plushood dolls. Some of my products have appeared in international design magazines ( I.D., Dwell) and are being sold in design shops around the world.

TAM: Well, I've been doodling since I was a little girl. As a huge animation fan, I've always wanted to work in that field and tell my little stories that way. After a short period of dreaming about becoming a marine biologist (don't laugh!) I started learning graphic design and animation at the visual communication department in Wizo College in Haifa. My graduation project was a short animation about two Siamese twins who hate each other. After graduation I started working in various fields focusing on editorial illustration, character design, animation, and a little branding. I spent more than two years working as a designer and animator for Shortcut Films on two animation series for kiddies. Besides that I had the pleasure of participating in art exhibitions and designing vinyl toys.  Somewhere in the middle, Shlomi called me and asked if I wanted to make toys with him.

Jewcy: How did your design experience influence the creation of your plush dolls?

Shlomi: As a products designer I learned how to deal with 3D – it helped me give another dimension to TAM'S amazing sketches (materials behave totally different than sketches). As a designer I also knew the importance of the small details to make a product desirable. Working as a production designer I learned about making a dream come true (this is the hard part.) We manufacture everything in Israel, and dealing with manufacturers is something I do every day.

TAM: Even in my college years I had to work with a variety of materials besides CMYK and RGB. I did a silk screen course and learned how to sew, so knowing the limits of the materials and how to work with them made it much easier to work with Shlomi. I learned a lot about working in a semi-mass-production way – stuff they don't teach you in college.

Jewcy: Each "neighbor" in the Plushood line has a background and character story. What was your inspiration in creating these bios?

TAM & Shlomi: Every character is based on people we’ve met over the years. Well, maybe 30% less radical than the real persons. Some of them are good friends who will never know that fact even after we die, and some are crazy neighbors and impossible flat mates we've had the pleasure of living with. The whole building thing is what holds those little dudes together. They are neighbors but they don't really get along. They have no choice but to live and suffer together. A little like it is in our crowded reality.

Jewcy: Have you been getting a lot of press attention, or any interesting testimonials from Plushood customers?

TAM: We receieved nice press attention over the past three years, but I'm sure my mom can be much more specific if you ask her. We don't have a publicist, so we're doing whatever we can in that field by ourselves. Not very easy…

During our first months, we used to sell Plushood in open-air fares and had the chance to see our costumers and hear their opinions right away. It was really fun to see how they read each character's story and started identifying with them right there in the street!

Shlomi: We did get a lot of press in daily newspapers and design magazines, and we even appeared on TV shows. As a set designer, I like to push the little Plushoods in front of the camera.

It really shocked me when I realized how many Google results you get when you search for "plushood."

Jewcy: Will we be seeing any new Plushood dolls in the future?

TAM: We recently released the Plushood Limbo edition, a limited series of 45 dolls of each character, all black and silver. We wanted to make something more "adult." In addition to that, we're working on creating a plush of Miss Moss' cat – James Richardson III! We're quite excited about it! And naturally, we'll be making more animations.

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