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.’