Who is Ulla Costa?
A creative mind in the heart of the Dolomites.
Ulla is a storyteller who works as a designer.
She uncovers stories everywhere and brings them to life in unexpected, playful, charming ways.
As a result, she conjures up smiles on people’s faces.
What does Ulla do?
Creates, creates, creates.
Ulla finds thoughtful, deep and silly words, images and shapes that move and enchant others.
She even likes handling serious subjects. And is not afraid of them - at least, not at first.
Lady Gaga agrees with her:
“We need fantasy to survive reality.”
How does Ulla do it?
She creates words, lines or shapes – and always adventures!
Ulla uses storytelling, character and themed design to conjure up unexpected encounters.
Her designs invite you to be creative. They are full of ideas and humour and are both subtle yet full of meaning, poetic yet clear, warm yet playful, tangible yet intangible and colourful yet timeless. Everything is changing and changeable.
Ulla’s creative approach essentially follows Dieter Rams’ principles, to which she adds that “Good design is as little design and as many bright smiles as possible!”
Who does Ulla do it for?
For you, for me and for that joyful spark that lives inside us.
Ulla tells, draws and invents for children from 0 to 99.
The child that we once were remains with us forever. Ulla’s designs play on this whimsical joy, simplicity and curiosity and invite others to get involved.
For this to work, the design must be intuitive, the materials of good quality and the content clear and entertaining.
Ulla’s clients most likely know this already, as they work passionately as inventors, go-getters and visionaries for the same audience.
Where did Ulla learn to do it?
Ulla is always learning, but there’s another story to be told here.
The publication “Gröden – Eine Reise durch die Zeit.” by the Gherdëina Local Heritage Museum, St. Ulrich, published by Raetia. The handmade toy horse is an original from bygone days.
Ulla lives with her husband, two children and a wild cat in Kastelruth in South Tyrol, Italy and has worked as a freelance designer for over 14 years. Ulla studied communication design, practises her drawing whenever she has a spare minute and has worked in exhibition design. Design is second nature to her.
For a long time, she believed she was alone in her love for storytelling and design. Until she came across a publication by the Gherdëina Local Heritage Museum in her hometown of St. Ulrich - it was suddenly plain to see.
“Because this is the capital city of Toyland. (...) we are mere mortals; but those wooden warriors and those jointed dolls bear charmed lives, and renew forever their indestructible youth.”
From English author Amelia B. Edwards’ travel report “Untrodden Peaks and Unfrequented Valleys”, London 1873.
At that moment, Ulla realised that she had something exciting flowing through her. In the place of red and white blood cells, dolls, horses, jugglers and tightrope walkers jump, prance and tumble through her veins.
Why does Ulla do it?
Imagine if loneliness were a colour - which one would you choose?
Ulla tells her story.
Loneliness is white.
I’m seven years old and sitting alone in this cold room. All colour has disappeared from my life. And I’m cuddling my teddy bear as hard as I can.
The door is wide open. One of the coats walks past outside - it’s white, like everything else. He looks at his documents and then at me. Suddenly, he’s no longer in a hurry. He puts down his papers and comes closer, a smile on his face.
His hands begin to dance before my eyes. Something red keeps flashing between his fingers. It’s as if I’m under a spell; my eyes hungrily follow the colourful thing. With each of his magic tricks, a bright, warm light enters the room, wraps itself around me and expands my small world.
Then he leaves, my magician. I stay behind with my teddy bear, a smile and this taste of magic.
He still exists, my loyal, somewhat dishevelled teddy bear. He sits in my creative studio and reminds me why and for whom I design and tell stories. He is also why you’ll find the Shadow of a bear behind my portrait photo on my homepage. In contrast, the dancing butterfly stands for my simple, colourful and fanciful designs.
Happiness is colourful.
I don’t know who he was, the doctor who brightened up my sad, sterile hospital stay with his magic. To this day, he probably has no idea of the impression he left on my soul.
Yet, this improbable moment and his kindness still live on within me, and I’d like to pay it forward through my designs.
Maybe they’ll comfort you or someone you know. That’s not much, I know. But in those trickier times, a little can mean a lot.
Today, Ulla loves the colour white and is no longer afraid of it.
Whenever she wants, she can fill any white space with that very same magic and follow its quiet call:
“Anything is possible!”
“A smile is like a magical, brightly coloured umbrella.
It protects you on bad days and turns everything on its head on good days!”
Ulla Costa - storytelling designer