When PJ Richardson started his design and animation company Laundry! in 2006, it was just him and his business partner in a small room. Five years later, Richardson shares his 5,000 square foot Hollywood office with 30 employees and a few of their dogs. There, the team works on graphics, animation, and visual effects for the likes of Google, Virgin Mobile, and Nike. Next up: rebranding the Al Jazeera network.
Unfortunately Richardson’s own pup doesn’t make the daily commute with him, but that doesn’t mean 13-year-old Stella hasn’t made her mark on the designer and business owner. I caught up with Richardson to find out how the tubby little wiener dog, along with his co-worker’s pups, keep him grounded and inspired.
How did you and Stella meet?
She was my girlfriend Morgan’s dog, and when we got together seven years ago I inherited her.
What kind of pup is she?
She’s a dachshund, and quite an overweight one. She’s the poster child of what not to eat as a dog, but she still has her moments where she gets all fired up.
Being a senior citizen, does Stella have any old lady quirks?
She’s a little deaf and a little blind, so when I come home she barks at me at first like I’m an intruder and then rolls over on her back expecting to be serviced. She also does this amazing thing where she gets under the blanket on her bed and when she gets up to do something she doesn’t bother getting out from under it. Suddenly you see this moving blanket making its way around the house.
Do you ever bring Stella to work?
No, and only because she doesn’t get along with other dogs. A few people bring their dogs to the office, so if we ever got another who enjoyed the company of other four-legged friends, I’d definitely bring it.
Are there benefits to canines in the office?
It keeps things casual. It also takes a load off of people’s shoulders, since they don’t have to worry about rushing home to take care of their dog. It gets a little crazy when there are multiple dogs at work though. One day we had six, and they were running around in packs, up and down the stairs in groups.
Your company, Laundry!, has worked with some impressive people and companies. Is there a project you’re particularly proud of?
I don’t know if it was our most successful per se, but the project that pushed us creatively into foreign territory was the “XXXO” music video for M.I.A. The video was a juxtaposition of beauty advertising from the ’80s with lo-fi, Myspace and Persian/Arabian graphics. The technique was really simple, but having the design aesthetic to understand that the graphics don’t have to be pristine goes against everything you’re taught in art school. It was the most experimental project, on a mainstream level, that we’ve been able to pull off.
Has Stella ever made an appearance in any of your work?
She’s gotten a little airtime. We included a photo of her in an HP touch screen commercial. I started working on an animated kid’s book for my son starring Stella, but he grew faster than I could finish it. He was over it by the time I had a chance to complete it. Clearly I was dragging my ass.