Daily Mail


Bright colours, bold, witty shapes – surrealist designs are back in our homes

- By Hugo Brown

CREATIVITY, imaginatio­n, a dash of escapism, pushing boundaries. these are things we now admire in homes, whether they’re our own or someone else’s. and that’s where surrealism comes in, but it’s popularity hasn’t always been so strong. indeed, the surrealist movement, founded in 1924 by andre Breton, but (for many) famously championed by Salvador Dali, is often thought of as an enterprise of art when its origins were rooted in design as well as anarchism and communism.

a recent exhibition at the Design Museum, Surrealism & Design Now, looked to show us the impact of this movement from the 1920s to the present day.

Surrealism, like many things, was a reaction to the horrors, dislocatio­n and shock of World War i. Works of this movement feature elements of surprise, unexpected juxtaposit­ions and non sequiturs.

and perhaps this might put our minds at rest — surrealism seems difficult to understand because it is supposed to be.

But we don’t need to look far to realise it’s all around us.


We Might not think the lobster and the telephone have much in common.

One’s a crustacean which can live for more than half a century and the other is an inanimate object invented in 1875. Salvador Dali though, would beg to differ. he found both erotic and arousing. this might be a stretch for most of us, but the idea prompted him to create aphrodisia­c, a functionin­g telephone which combined the two.

and it is this kind of leap which seems to characteri­se surrealist design. this is an example of ‘objectbase­d polyamory’ to give it the official name. in other words, the unexpected combinatio­n of two objects to create something new.


BUT how exactly does this translate into our own homes?

Well, bright colours and bold shapes are as popular as ever, we take inspiratio­n from the natural world and dipping into classic design tropes still excites us.

Certainly, there are iconic pieces: rene Magritte’s treachery Of images depicts a painting of a pipe with the words

‘ Ceci n’est pas une pipe’. reproducti­ons of the piece adorn many walls, particular­ly those of students (£ 10.29, redbubble.com).

We might not also realise that items such as popular pineapple lamps are a nod to surrealism — Laura ashley does one in gold (£82.65, oceanlight­ing.co.uk).

Other varieties, more inspired by animals, such as Joe Browns Crane table lamp also fit the bill (£64, JoeBrowns.co.uk). this idea might not seem that revolution­ary but posit the idea of fruit/animal meets lamp to someone 50 years ago and they might beg to differ.

and back to Dali, with a product that will be recognisab­le to many: the Mae West lips sofa — shaped like the actress’s, well, lips. the artist was said to be fascinated by West (which might have been more concerning than flattering). there are versions out there but they don’t come cheap, the lowest seems to be £1,514 ( litfad.com). While 1stdibs.com is selling one for the surreal price of £239,225.


ON a more reasonable note though, there are plenty of brands bringing bright and bold products into the home. While not exactly surrealist pieces, these items do evoke the movement’s playful ideas.

there’s a plumpness to Snug’s the Small Biggie threeseate­r sofa that’s reminiscen­t of the Mae West sofa (similar at the Design Museum, pictured). Midnight blue and pine green are the boldest shades, prices from £1,401 at snugsofa.com.

and paint brand yesColours ( yescolours. com) has ecofriendl­y products in vibrant shades which would have gone down well with the likes of andre Breton. Passion was a key part of surrealism and the brand’s teal and lilac tones in this range are a good fit (from £21).

as emma Bestley, cofounder of yesColours, says: ‘embracing a surrealism scheme is about introducin­g the whimsical and wonderful in your home, and the colours you introduce are an integral part of the entire look. it’s about combining dreams with reality which provides a huge sense of optimism.’


AND now that we no longer shy away from undertakin­g home improvemen­ts ourselves, perhaps some Diy surrealism is the way to go.

Sally Coulden, founder of red Dog glass Design ( reddogglas­sdesign.com), says: ‘Large, framed posters look fabulous and you could even create your own surrealist collage with cuttings from magazines and then place images that don’t necessaril­y go together to create the unexpected.’ the Design Museum ( design museumshop.com) itself has some great prints as part of the exhibition. the surreal cover of harper’s Bazaar from October 1938 (£28) and Lee Miller’s Bathing Feature print (£ 60) would make an interestin­g combinatio­n. especially alongside some bright colours, as seen in the work of artists such as ronan Bouroullec (print £45), for a more modern touch.

Largely though, it is up to you and experiment­ing is all part of the fun. as Salvador Dali said: ‘ i do not understand why, when i ask for grilled lobster in a restaurant, i’m never served a cooked telephone.’ it seems, there are no rules. go your own way, embrace the unexpected and nonsensica­l and you’ll be sure to bring the surreal into your home.

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 ?? ?? Whimsical: The Small Biggie sofa, in pine green £1,429, from Snugsofa.com
Whimsical: The Small Biggie sofa, in pine green £1,429, from Snugsofa.com

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