Alyona & Robby

Things we love with two awesome graphic designers

By the Get Leashed Doggy Style team

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With the ever-surging popularity of cats on the Internet, there’s not much in the cat world that we haven’t seen. From angry cats and three-legged princesses to adorable monsters, room in our hearts and minds for a new cat gimmick is at capacity. At least, that was our assumption before we met Hime Himstar. One look at her ludicrously expressive face and we were in love. She’s special, to say the least, standing out because of her bigger than life features and, there’s no ignoring it, her big-cat stature.

Hime Himstar fits perfectly into Robby and Alyona’s home. Here is a couple who have created an artistic niche and their designs capture attention with their big and bright features. If you’re someone that has even the smallest fun side when it comes to art, PICA has something that will suit you.  The fun side spreads from their art into the rest of their home and we were totally enamored by things as simple as coffee makers and staplers.

Their unique decorating skills and the fantastic space they’ve created is a photographer’s dream. Have a look at some of our favorite pictures below and then read up on this design team’s life and love with their amazing cat.

Tell us about yourselves:

Robby and I are both Graphic Designers. By day I work as a designer at a financial start-up, whereas Robby is a web and UI designer for a local web design agency. Not long ago we decided to start our own creative venture by opening an online store called PICA Things We Love, selling original Japanese-themed Pop Art style prints.

We met in post-secondary art school, and soon after graduating we decided to move to Tokyo-area, Japan. After living there for a couple of years, we are now back in Toronto, but have retained a deep understanding of Japanese culture, which drives our creative process and was the inspiration for PICA. We are not aiming to create prints that are stereotypically Japanese. Our subject matter is the Japanese culture that is known by few, but is very dear to both expats and natives. We hope, through our prints, to create awareness that there is more to Japan than sushi and Japanese swords.

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A bit about your pet:

Our cat is an 8 year-old American Shorthair. We named her Hime Himstar the Great. This would be her official name. At home we tend to give her nicknames like Himstar, Him Him or Hime-chan. Hime is Japanese for princess – a very common name for pets and people alike. Himstar is our playful way of calling her a superstar. And she’s “the Great” because she is a survivor and a fighter.

IMG_6970Hime came into our lives unplanned. 8 years ago my mom found a small kitten near her workplace, sheltering under boxes at the side of a factory building. She was weak, scared and had visible injuries on her neck. She brought her home, we called in a vet and it was discovered that in addition to her visible pains, she had a shattered bone in her back leg that had recently started to heal. Hime was in shock and wasn’t responding to what was going on around her. It took us a month to nurse her back to health. She’s been with us since.

Today she has no desire to go outside. She is truly a homey cat. She’s very active and kind, with a bit of a princess personality. Our home is her castle, where she is the queen. Her leg, due to the initial injury, never quite healed properly, so it is a bit shorter than the other one. That doesn’t stop her from running and jumping. When she runs, she has a bit of a bunny hop. And to compensate for her leg, she has great upper strength that allows her to pick herself up on anything she can grab onto. She is truly a fighter and our daily inspiration to never give up and always keep looking forward.

What does your ideal weekend look like?

Our ideal weekend is to sleep in past midday. Hime knows when it’s weekend time and loves to sleep in with us. After that we keep it pretty simple. A bit of good food, like late Dim Sum in Markham. Robby is Hong Kong born, so he knows the best spots uptown. In the evening we finish off the day as a family, catching up on all our favourite shows.

Describe your style:

We love design driven by simplicity and clean lines. Think MUJI. Natural tones with a hint of bright pops of color here and there.

What inspires you?

We are inspired by Japanese design, culture and the Japanese way of life. It is clean, simple, functional and unique. Just the way we like it.

How would you describe the look and feel of your home?

We took great care in the interior decoration of our home. Most of the furniture was bought and brought back from Japan. Our shelves are stacked with design books and items we acquired on our travels, as well as items from my hometown of Moscow, Russia. Everything on display is a collection of memories and design inspirations.

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A story about Hime Himstar:

Every night when we go to sleep, Hime comes into the room and cries to get our attention. She is upset that we didn’t formally invite her to join us. After I call her over (this takes a couple of minutes), she finally climbs up and walks over our heads to get in between the pillows. She’ll keep walking back and forth, nudging her face against ours until we move aside creating enough space for her to lie down. Only then does she soundly fall asleep. It is a routine, and has been going on for a very long time. She is the boss. But she is also very sweet at it. It’s these little things that reassure us that she is happy to be with us and that she wouldn’t have it any other way.

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We’ve included a couple of our favorite prints from PICA in the gallery below. Be sure to click for more info and a link to purchase!