Cuban designer, illustrator, and former insomniac Idania Del Rio is relentlessly optimistic. Even when faced with something as serious as a sleep disorder, Idania found a way to harness her malady and use it as a spark for conversation and creativity. The result? Remedies for Insomnia. Like much of her earlier poster work, Remedies is charmingly bold and unapologetically naive, playfully satiric and darkly whimsical. Plain white pillows serve as a canvas for tongue-in-cheek images divulging the designer’s “secrets” for securing a good night’s sleep—an opened packet of sleeping pills, a pair of crumpled knickers, a sheep popping Prozac. Each piece of the series addresses Idania’s insomnia with a wink and a smile, a sign that she’d rather laugh at her challenges than succumb to them.

As a part of her first visit to the United States, she swung by the studio on Thursday to lead our most recent Tether Talk. With the same wit and honesty, Idania shared with us the joys and pains of working as a designer in Cuba, her process and philosophy of design, and her ambitions for the future. Which include hosting a workshop at the Central District’s Pipsqueak Gallery, where kids (and kid-like adults) can design a pair of pajamas based on the tricks they use to fall asleep. Why? As Idania put it: “So the next time you have trouble sleeping you’ll have your own super anti-insomnia pajamas—it’s unbeatable!”

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