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Animation app by Israeli, Swede wins Apple Design Awards

Looom app offers a simplified version of animation, akin to flip book design

Jessica Steinberg covers the Sabra scene from south to north and back to the center.

One of eight apps recently recognized at the Apple Design Awards is Looom, an animation app created by Israeli animator Eran Hilleli and his Swedish design partner, Finn Ericson.

“We were very surprised that Apple saw it so fast,” said Hilleli, who released the app on February 29, 2020. “We didn’t send it to them.”

Hilleli said the app allows anyone to try animation, given that it is generally an art that requires a lot of experience. The app approaches animation from a more simplistic approach than the typically complicated animation programs, something more akin to Etch A Sketch drawing toy or View Master stereoscope, he said.

The partners both loved the simplicity of those toys, said Hilleli, an animator who also lectures at Jerusalem’s Bezalel Academy of Arts and Design.

Eran Hilleli, one-half of the animation team that created the award-winning Looom app (Courtesy Eran Hilleli)

“Anyone could touch them, kids and adults both love them,” he said. “Those were our pillars. You can’t do everything with Looom, but it allows you to just sit on the couch and use it.”

“We learn a lot about animation from flip books, but when you really want to do it, it’s a lot harder,” he said. “Looom isn’t complicated but it’s very different and people just intuitively get it. People aren’t scared of it.”

Hilleli and Ericson share a love for visual, code and audio design and began working on Looom a year and a half ago, naming the app for the loom used in weaving, and for the animation technique known as weaving loops.

Finn Ericson, Eran Hilleli’s partner in designing Looom (Courtesy xx Ericson)

They thought of their animator friends and their daughters — Hilleli’s older child is four, and Ericson’s are 8 and 4 — while designing the app, which they worked on at night and on weekends, when they weren’t at work or with their families.

“We wanted things that animators would enjoy, something that was really simple and playful but not a game,” said Hilleli. “It lets you enter a mode of carefree creation.”

For now, the pair are continuing their work, updating Looom as needed.

“It’s a huge accomplishment but our style is to take things in an organic manner and not celebrate too much,” said Hilleli. “And now we have a connection at Apple.”

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