The Story Behind The Mill’s Venture into Publishing a Children’s Book
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Anais La Rocca and Eve Grissinger on a sustainable project for Avocado Green Mattress that marked a shift in creativity for the studio
When Mill director Anais La Rocca and creative development lead Eve Grissinger were approached to pitch on a commercial for the sustainable brand Avocado Green Mattress back in January of 2019, little did they know that a few short months later they would be writing and publishing their first children’s book.
The creative partnership between Avocado Green Mattress and The Mill began with a shared commitment to sustainability and exploration of how the importance of sustainable living could be communicated to the wider world.
“Avocado challenged us with developing a campaign to help them amplify their brand and echo their ethos ‘Better for You and the Planet’,” says Christina Thompson, executive producer at The Mill. “Avocado’s aim; to position themselves as agents of change and inspire customers to join them in a larger movement to help save the planet.”
Delving into creative development, the team conceptualised two brand films - First Step and Bedtime Story. “First Step became a rather poetic visual metaphor about our carbon footprint, begging the question, what mark do we want to leave on this world?” ponders Anais. “We wanted nature and landscapes to be the hero of this piece, with humankind trying to find its place in it.”
Bedtime Story is a multigenerational journey, set to a bedtime fable about the story of our Little Blue Planet. We get a glimpse into one family’s experience as they grow in respect and responsibility for Earth. This brand film became the creative stimulus for the book that was subsequently published, The Little Blue Planet.
“The Little Blue Planet was the base idea for Bedtime Story from the start and was within our initial presentation of ideas,” says Eve. “We went out on a whimsical limb and proposed that we create a real children’s book and get it published. Though we were half-joking at the time, the Avocado team was inspired to take us up on the suggestion. They allowed us to put the book itself into production to be released in tandem with the film, given to customers and sold online with all the proceeds going to 1% For The Planet.
“The transition from commercial to book was actually a seamless one,” she adds, “as we approached the VO for Bedtime Story as being the text of The Little Blue Planet from the start. I suppose the important thing here was finding the space where these words would live really well as both a VO that people hear when they see the spot, and as a children’s book that reads well. The great thing about children’s books is that they are so often read out loud by parents and teachers, it wasn’t too much of a challenge finding the area where these words could live as both a book and a voiced piece of writing.”
The book was then illustrated by Mill designers Wendy Eduarte and Syd Fini, who worked together to achieve a playful, hand-drawn charcoal aesthetic, synonymous with the traditional children’s book illustration. “We tried to avoid the digital feel and embraced the small irregular wonders that you get when drawing on paper,” says Wendy. “We sought to create a small illustrative world filled with Easter eggs that will help children discover something new in the book every time they read it.”
Anais, who art directed the book in addition to writing it, adds: “We developed a style that was influenced by timeless illustrators that we consider to be a few of the greats - Curious Georges’ Margaret Ray, Madelines’ Ludwig Bemelmans, and the more contemporary and inspiring Suzy Lee, to name a few. We loved the nostalgia, and dateless look of these characters, a way in which they used simple colour palettes combined with a very raw and warm line.”
The final book has a verified net-zero carbon footprint and uses soy-based inks on 100% Post-Consumer Waste (PWC) recycled paper. The jacket is removable, revealing an educational poster that can be pinned up in classrooms or at home to educate families on ways they can encourage sustainable living, such as through composting, shopping locally and going plastic-free. It’s currently on sale via Amazon and will be distributed for free with every purchase of an Avocado Green Mattress.