Unpacking the magic of Miffy, a simply drawn, bunny-shaped friend
Researchers have found that reliably positive responses to simple curvilinear shapes seem to be present early during development, before language is acquired. Researchers also hold that children associate more positive emotions, like happiness or excitement, with bright colours. Bruna seemed to understand this instinctively from the beginning.
The blocks of colour — Bruna cited countryman Piet Mondrian and Henri Matisse as inspirations — have a universality to them. The settings are not country-specific and, when landscape is depicted, it too can be read as applicable to anywhere and everywhere. Bruna wrote for a 2005 illustration exhibition:
I hope that the child’s imagination is stimulated to see things in their simplest form … so that life, with all its complications, becomes a little clearer.
Miffy is anthropomorphic, a little white rabbit doing many of the everyday things that lots of children do. She was “born” when the author was on holiday with his family and started telling his son stories about a little rabbit in the garden.