Otto Studio was born from the idea that creating a home you love shouldn’t be hard. The Vancouver-based maximalist removable wall paper company launched in 2021, when the pandemic had forced a change in the way homes were used. Suddenly, living spaces needed to be more multipurpose, doubling as Zoom backgrounds, classrooms, gyms, and offices in addition to the usual requirements. It became important to have a joyful place to live that could also adapt to the space’s evolving needs.
Founded by Hannah Lee, who had worked in multiple industries, and Jen Cook, whose background is arts and design, Otto Studio’s wallcoverings are designed to be more durable with more varied patterns than other removable wallpapers, and lower commitment than standard wallpaper. Cook says she loves seeing the creativity that blossoms from the flexibility, noting she’s seen people use Otto wallcoverings “for all kinds of purposes such as doors, archways, kitchen islands—you name it.”
Lee and Cook, who met through work, had long dreamed of starting a business together. “We’ve discussed ideas here and there, but mostly in fun. When this business opportunity came to us, we did the research, and it made sense,” Lee explains. “There was a gap in the marketplace for folks in our age group who we could directly relate to. People want bold, bright, and fun colours in their space.”
The rental-friendly wallcoverings are rooted in the founders’ passion for art and design, and Otto’s shop is filled with loud, colourful prints that are crafted with happiness in mind. While some are designed in-house, many are the product of partnerships with likeminded artists and designers. Past collaborations include a series of bright floral and fruit patterns by British illustrator Melissa Donne, Nigerian American visual artist Uzo Njoku’s depictions of Black jubilation, and abstracts and colour blockings by Canadian muralist Tierney Milne. “We’ve always approached Otto in a collaborative way. We’ve been so excited to collaborate with incredible creators and artists from all over the world this year, from New York to Australia to the U.K.,” Cook says, noting that Otto has experimented with several new product lines, from art prints to decals to laptop covers.
Otto’s latest collaboration, with iconic footwear brand John Fluevog, is set to launch on September 18, an especially meaningful partnership for Cook, who interned at Fluevog while attending Emily Carr University of Art + Design. Fluevog, known for its wacky silhouettes and eye-catching patterns, has created three retro prints with Otto, inspired by company archives, past designs, and founder John Fluevog’s homes. One design, Ad Week, is a collage of images from old Fluevog advertisements and catalogues. They are printed on paper, unlike Otto’s standard vinyl collections, although the company plans to expand its paper options soon. Made with nontoxic water-based latex inks, the VOC- and PVC-free papers are printed to order (to reduce waste) in B.C. with natural reinforcing fibres that make them durable enough for multiple applications.
Currently, Otto Studio ships to Canada, the U.S., Australia, and the U.K. Keep an eye out for more exciting collaborations, which Lee and Cook choose because of their similar values and ability to push the limits of what traditional wallpaper designs look like. “We’ve learned so much from these first 18 months in business and are keen to continue to evolve the Otto Studio brand and product range,” Cook says.