We first met Pucle on a design fair in Bratislava and immediatly fell in love with their amazing artist illustrated puzzles. What a great idea and such beautiful designs! Now we had the pleasure of interviewing Lenka and Baša, the creators of Pucle – read on to find out how they came up with the idea and what other projects they are working on.
Hi, please introduce yourself to our readers!
Hello ☺ We are Lenka and Baša, young design enthusiasts and starting entrepreneurs from Slovakia. We are in our late twenties, and just in the right spot where we still have heads full of big dreams and already enough responsibility to pursue them wisely. We met in our teenage years and our friendship lasts over a decade now. Now it also became a business partnership and a creative force.
How did Pucle come to life?
In early 2017 we were both at a crossroad of life. There were a lot of different personal problems we were dealing with and none of us was perfectly satisfied with our situation. I was considering moving out of Slovakia and Baš was considering quitting a dayjob as a copywriter. Our idea for Pucle came very spontaneously. We were discussing how awesome it would be to have our own design store and to do something we would just love. At that time I was doing a lot of puzzles in the evenings, because it was a form of therapy for me in difficult times. It was a mastery to find puzzles in the stores that wouldn’t be tacky and kitschy. So the need combined with timing gave us the idea – let’s make beautiful design puzzles together.
In two hours we came up with the full concept. We would print amazing illustrations on puzzles and figure out a wooden frame that can be included in the package. Also the puzzle wouldn’t be glued and can be disassembled anytime.
We didn’t sit on this idea and immediately start researching and working on prototypes. In six months since the idea was born, we had a website, suppliers, working product, five illustration motives and three hundred products to sell. We launched in November 2017.
What materials do you use for your puzzles and where do you source them?
We are trying to be as green as possible. Puzzle is made out of recycled cardboard, just like the tubes and under-mats. Frames are made out of beech wood and they’re handmade. There is no extra plastic in the package. The puzzle is in hand sewn cotton baggies that can be later used to store herbs or anything else.
We didn’t have any previous entrepreneurial or production experience and we learn as we go, every step of the way. We just sit behind Google until we find what we are looking for ☺ Our suppliers are from Slovakia and the Czech Republic. Every component comes from a different supplier and we put everything together with love and care.
Pucle is all about artist collaborations, how do you find the artists, and how do you choose the motives?
Since college years we both have been part of the artistic community so we had an idea with whom we would like to start. We are also constantly searching online for new artists, we get recommendations from our customers, or artists themselves reach out to us.
We have learnt that motifs need to have a lot of contrast and good composition. At the beginning we were choosing mostly motifs that we wanted to assemble and now we are trying to relate more to our customers’ taste.
Since we invest a lot of money into the production we really need to like the motif to print it.
Generally we aim for a balance between what is popular and a bit more experimental for us, as our black and white graphics.
If you could choose anyone in the world to do a puzzle with, who would it be?
We are very glad now, because we are in communication with one incredible artist that we have been admiring. Hopefully, the collab will come to fruition and you will be able to enjoy her amazing motif this fall ☺
What are the next projects you are working on?
Recently, Baš moved back to Trenčín (our hometown) and thanks to that we are finally in the same town and able to work even more and efficiently. We really enjoy culture of any kind and we are contributing in the organization of various cultural events around the town. This year and for the first time Baš decided to start Pecha Kucha Trenčín. We are really looking forward to this event.
How would you describe the design & architecture scene in Slovakia?
Slovakia has a lot of talented people and design and art communities are strong and developing. Although, the interest of the general public isn’t very strong, except the capital – Bratislava. Innovative designs go often misunderstood and undervalued and culture still goes as something almost exclusively funded by the state. It’s changing slowly and hopefully we are going in the right direction. Luckily, there are many initiatives and galleries trying to make visual culture more accessible to the general public.
Are there any challenges you might encounter as a young designer in Slovakia? How did you overcome them?
We are both programmed for some sort of creative work and we have been unsatisfied with the lack of opportunities and lack of proper appreciation of creative work in our country. Generally, great design is still not appreciated to the level of more developed countries. Lots of talented people go abroad because it’s not easy to make a living here as a creative. We wanted to contribute to change this and Pucle is our way of doing it. We would like to prove that culture and business can be partners, which is often highly doubted in Slovakia.
Although, I don’t feel like we have overcome the challenges, there are always new ones behind every corner. Entrepreneurial environment in Slovakia is difficult due to our state policies, tax laws etc. The conditions are not well suited for start-ups and you need a lot of willpower and motivation to persevere.
Any other Slovakian designers you are particularly fond of and we should definitely check out?
What are the places we shouldn’t miss going to when in Trenčín?
We have a gorgeous castle basically smacked on top of the main square. From a cultural point there is the Bazovsky gallery, also in the centre. During the summer months we have one amazing music festival called Pohoda that has been awarded multiple international awards. As many big festivals, it also embraced visual art and you can find many outdoor installations and happenings during the festival.
Something personal about yourself – how many puzzles do you own, which one is your favourite?
Of course we have almost too many now ☺ We assemble every new motif and that is one of the favorite parts of the job. Assembling is so much fun and it’s so relaxing, it’s amazing to have it in a work description ☺
Except our Pucle, I still have plenty of puzzles from my childhood and the most common motifs include my life-long hero Pocahontas ☺