Tutti Frutti: Sweeties based style palette gives a colourful pick 'n' mix
'One of the great delights of being an adult is that you can eat two ice lollies on the trot," says Martin Waller. "It's a sensation of freedom that's hard to match." He's the founder of Andrew Martin, a British furnishing company that produces, among other things, furniture made in the shape of sweets, ice lollies, biscuits and bars. It's called the Tutti Frutti collection.
On one level, Waller is reliving his misspent youth. "I wanted to take something that we're all so familiar with - that is so much part of our communal consciousness - and rework into something else. It's this thing where you transform a childhood memory into something that's on the line between furniture and art and fun," he says. "Kit-Kat or Dairy Milk? We have them both. They're both iconic."
The Tutti Frutti Cocoa Power coffee table (£2,995/€3,509) mimics the shape of a bar of Cadbury's Dairy Milk; the Choc Chunk coffee table (£2,695/€3,157) is a Kit Kat; and the Dunk (from £1,695/€1,986) is a digestive biscuit on a single central stem. "We live in such a golden age of plenty but, when I was a boy, a bar of Dairy Milk was a thing."
At first, Waller thought that the iconic power of confectionary was a generational thing but gradually came to realise that the shapes and forms of sweets and biscuits had meaning for younger people too. "We all have that shared memory - digestive biscuits are part of our world. It's a bit like music, we are all made from these fragments of influence that make up the sound track of your life."
The Rocket, from Andrew Martin, is a resin sculpture in the shape of a Zoom ice lolly. It is tiered in pink, orange and yellow, with a powdery finish, and stands on a realistic lolly stick. The sculpture is not a lamp, but it has internal space for a bulb that will light the whole thing up. It comes in two sizes: small (60cm high) which costs £195/€228 or large (150cm high) for £1,295/€1,500. Aesthetically, it draws on the heritage of the Zoom Booster, a raspberry-flavoured rocket with an orange-flavoured nose produced by Wall's in the 1960s. The packaging promised "big new thrills where you buy your Wall's". But, while the Rocket sculpture echoes the colour scheme of the Booster, it takes its form from the Zoom. The Zoom was introduced by Lyons Maid in April/May 1963 in conjunction with Fireball XL5, a British science fiction themed children's television show. The TV show followed the missions of spaceship Fireball XL5, commanded by Colonel Steve Zodiac. The ice lolly was rocket-shaped with horizontal stripes of lime, lemon and strawberry. "I thought that the Zoom was a rip-off of the Booster," says Waller. "And I was only five!"
In the same collection, the Pick 'n' Mix stools are inspired by the noble tradition of Bassetts Liquorice Allsorts. You know the ones that nobody likes? They're made of anise-flavoured jelly and covered in little bobbles. Waller has skipped those ones. Instead he's recreated a version of the double decker sandwich, taking a few liberties with the colour scheme, to create a square stool (40cm high) in various colourways. There's also a cylindrical one based on the delicious coconut-flavoured sweet that always seems to be under-represented in the bag. Both cost £195/€228.
The lamps that look like jelly babies are known as Roly Poly sculptures (also £195/€228). Like the Rocket, the internal light bulb is something that you can add yourself. They're based on the classic jelly baby, introduced by Bassett in 1953 and come in all the colours of the real sweet, apart from purple. Unlike the contemporary jelly babies which have different shapes and individual names (spooky) the Roly Poly sculptures are all the same shape. I ask Waller if the design was born of a genuine love of the confectionary. He gives a nostalgic sigh. "Jelly babies must be one of God's greatest inventions. If I were stuck on a desert island, I'd be looking for the jelly baby tree." With bold colours, inventive shapes, and Pop Art influence, the Tutti Frutti collection harks back to the 1970s. "I used to think of the 1970s as the decade that taste forgot," Waller says. "Now, with the benefit of time passed in between, I can see that it was an astonishingly brilliant design decade with a sense of fun and adventure before we all got too serious."
Andrew Martin isn't the first brand to produce Pop Art furniture in the shape of confectionary. The Italian brand, Gugliermetto, has a deliciously realistic range including: a pouffe in the shape of a rounded chocolate with multi-coloured sprinkles; a sofa in the shape of a chocolate bar, which comes in dark or milk; and the Big Eat Bigné, a giant profiterole with icing in dark chocolate, pistachio, custard, mandarin, raspberry and pink. All were designed by Diego Maria Gugliermetto and the company doesn't release the price unless you want to buy. My guess is that they're verrry expensive.
All this is sweet stuff, but not for everyone, especially in a country inclined to go for neutrals and an easy life. Here's the voice of reason… "No matter how much you love pop, you are never going to want to look at it every day, all year," says Helen Coughlan of Meadows & Byrne. "As a teenager growing up in a haze of magnolia, pop was rebellious. Bringing a bit of it into a room was a way that we could express ourselves. But now I have a husband and children to take into account. It's not just about me."
If you love pop, she suggests that you bring it in in accessories. Like cushions. And just make sure that you can change the cushion covers. The Popsicle collection of fringed cushions (€39.95 each) from Meadows & Byrne comes in a choice of tangerine, pink lychee, lemonade; there's also a textured version in honeycomb fuchsia. And three or four of these colours is quite enough. "I would never throw out the rule book. I might close it, but I would never throw it out," Coughlan says. "You can go insane if you want - and throw the rainbow at the room - but you may not get the result you want at the end of the day." Careful now!
See andrewmartin.co.uk, g-experience.it, meadowsandbyrne.com