Soap story: Brooklyn design firm Pelle creates the ultimate collection

The Brooklyn design firm Pelle has created a collection of elemental architectural ornaments
The Brooklyn design firm Pelle has created a collection of elemental architectural ornaments, made entirely from soap
(Image credit: Pelle)

We’ve come to really enjoy watching the otherworldly, intellectual approach of the Brooklyn-based design firm Pelle in action. From their jewel-like soap stones, to their seductive Spectrum candles and ethereal bubble chandeliers, Oliver and Jean Pelle (a husband and wife duo) have become known for their imaginative spin on simple objects.

The case couldn’t be truer for the pair’s latest enterprise: a collection of elemental architectural ornaments, made entirely from soap. Individually sculpted and made from a range of natural ingredients, the ‘Folly’ collection easily puts the average soap bar to shame.

The Pelles were inspired by the idea of architectural follies as a starting point. ‘The act of designing often blurs the connection between what the function of an object is versus what it looks like. It can be a really interesting moment where the purpose of the object can appear less important than its striking and unusual design,' explains Jean Pelle. ‘The architectural folly is a very good example of this, since it is deliberately built as ornament. It distinctly remains a building or a construction though, not a sculpture.’

Although there is a clear function for soap, the couple decided to amplify their creations’ form, colour, scent and texture to enhance each soap’s blend of ingredients. A cloudy, marble-like dome mixes volcanic rock pumice with a fragrant rosemary and peppermint scent, while its black sibling is made from activated charcoal, flecks of edible 24k gold leaf and smells of cedarwood and floral palmrosa. The ‘shube’, a vertical dial marbled with black and green is embedded with sea sponge and infused with tea tree oil and eucalyptus to calm and relax.

‘Part of designing Folly was the desire to make the best soap we could possibly make, using the highest quality ingredients,’ explains Pelle. ‘Charcoal and pumice have a very elemental quality to them that translates into both texture and color.  There is also a vague, maybe amusing, allusion to building materials like concrete and wood, which ties it back to the [original] idea.’

‘Soap is a fantastic medium for design, she adds. ‘It is extremely malleable, workable and has this shear endless faculty of taking on any color, shape, scent, and texture.’ 

natural soap made with an embedded sea sponge

Individually sculpted and made from a range of natural ingredients, the ‘Folly’ collection easily puts the average soap bar to shame. Pictured: the 'Block', a marbled all-natural soap made with an embedded sea sponge, activated charcoal

(Image credit: Pelle)

The 'Shub' and 'Black Dome' sititng on top

The 'Shub' and 'Black Dome' sititng on top of Pelle's cast concrete soap dish

(Image credit: Pelle)

The 'Sponge', a sea sponge dipped into a shallow bath

The 'Sponge', a sea sponge dipped into a shallow bath of all-natural vegetable-based glycerine soap that smells of sweet rose and warm ginger

(Image credit: Pelle)

natural vegetable-based glycerine soap

The 'Column' is a steely shade of blue-gray and combines activated charcoal and mica with an all-natural vegetable-based glycerine soap. It's scented with fir tree and clove

(Image credit: Pelle)

The trio of domes

The trio of domes: grey (volcanic rock pumice, peppermint and rosemary), black (24k gold leaf, charcoal, woody cedarwood, palmarosa) and pink (Himalayan pink sea salt, rose, ginger)

(Image credit: Pelle)

INFORMATION

The ’Folly’ collection ranges from $16-$80 individually, or $280 for the full 7-piece set which comes with two concrete soap dishes

Pei-Ru Keh is the US Editor at Wallpaper*. Born and raised in Singapore, she has been a New Yorker since 2013. Pei-Ru has held various titles at Wallpaper* since she joined in 2007. She currently reports on design, art, architecture, fashion, beauty and lifestyle happenings in the United States, both in print and digitally. Pei-Ru has taken a key role in championing diversity and representation within Wallpaper's content pillars and actively seeks out stories that reflect a wide range of perspectives. She lives in Brooklyn with her husband and two children, and is currently learning how to drive.