Fake food is back in fashion again

While a minimalist interior may have represented an ambitious environment only a few years ago, it seems intermittent closures and supply chain-induced shortages have led people to re-evaluate the aesthetic of an empty house.

The result is a resurgence of maximalist interior design that embraces pattern, color and ornamentation. Cabinets that may once have been the grain of wood are now tinted with precious stones; streamlined furniture has given way to anything spongy and wavy; trends like “cottagecore” and “grandmillennial” aim to enhance handmade, chintzy and second-hand items.

Is it any wonder that fake foods are also making a comeback?

Deli and cheese candles, resin croissants and Jell-O salad lamps are hot dishes. Retro-styled faux cakes are popular on Instagram. High-end jewelry brand Mociun sells fake spilled wine glasses and melting ice cream cones alongside $ 10,000 engagement rings. And Yukiko Morita’s Pampshade lamps, which are made from real baked goods that have been preserved, can sell for around $ 80 apiece.

For John Derian, founder of an eponymous decoration and cutting line, the resurgence of fake food is welcome. Mr Derian has had a fake cake lying on his home kitchen counter for 14 years, he said, and he estimates that he has been selling food-themed items in his store for about 20 years. , starting with a plush doll made by Nathalie. Lete who had sausages for his arm and a steak for his head.

“I like funny things,” he said.

These days, Mr. Derian also offers more stylish counterfeit food items for customers less interested in kitsch, including stone bananas and cherries carved in Tuscany using marble from the same quarry as Michelangelo. favored.

For about 10 years Mr. Derian has also been selling food-shaped candles from Cereria Introna, an Italian company that has been in existence since 1840. (This year Cereria Introna, which makes all of its candles by hand and supplies many other boutiques from design including East Fork and Fruit and Flower Shop, has seen the demand for its food candles in the United States increase to the point where it has not been able to fulfill all of its orders.)

Mr. Derian often displays the beauties of paraffin wax, which include donuts, cakes, cupcakes and pies, in his shop window.

“Everyone responds with joy,” he said. “Sometimes I move them around the store, but I keep highlighting them because they’re just something bright and colorful and happy.”

Over the past few centuries, fake foods have remained popular in more utilitarian environments. In Japan, fake foods, or sampuru, are displayed in restaurant windows and can cost artisans hundreds of dollars to custom make them. In the United States, fake wedding cakes can help preserve a visual tradition of a layered confectionery, while also helping to lower the price of the real cake served at the reception.

But when it comes to fake foods as art pieces in the American home, Sarah Archer, design and culture writer and author of the 2019 book “The Midcentury Kitchen,” suggests going back to the 1950s. and 1960, when fake food became a mid-century trend.

“Fruit in blown glass was very popular in the 1950s and 1960s, especially after World War II, when it was more affordable and quite interesting or attractive for middle-class Americans to travel abroad by. Italy, ”Ms. Archer said in a recent interview. . American tourists returned from their travels with glass apples or pears as souvenirs.

Fake fruits made from wax and plastic were also popular, although fake fruits made from these materials could be interpreted as kitsch, according to the public.

“It kind of represents domesticity and some middle-class beautification effort, but it’s also a little cheesy at the same time,” Ms. Archer said. “He occupies a sort of nebulous status.

For some artisans and brands that sell counterfeit today, the question of taste – or questionable taste – is what drew them to the trend in the first place.

Leanne Rodriguez, an artist from Oakland, Calif. Named Elrod, began making fake gelatin salad lamps during the pandemic; in a recent interview, Ms Rodriguez said she wished the effect “was a little disgusting”.

Drawing inspiration from gelatin salad recipes from mid-century cookbooks, Ms. Rodriguez hangs clay-based hot dogs, vegetables and chopped fruit in shimmering resin. Her designs, which she christened Mexakitchen and which she sells as part of her Mexakitsch artwork line, emanate an eerie glow from the LED lights inside. Ms Rodriguez said a fascination with kitsch is what drove her to make the lamps in the first place, and the more she makes them, the more opulent they become.

“A lot of people don’t get it,” said Ms. Rodriguez, whose designs cost between $ 100 and $ 3,500. “And those who get it really like it.”

Jazmine Rogers, a content creator in San Diego, knew the joy that fake food can bring to a home since she was a child.

Her grandmother had a collection of cardboard fake fruit, and when Mrs. Rogers decorated her own home in San Diego, she made sure to look for fake foods to display. In addition to a glass corn cob and glass orange in her home office, she bought a fake cardboard cake and filler to hang on the wall.

“There’s something about it that feels really intimate to me,” said Ms. Rogers, 25. “It’s kind of like playing with your food, it’s like your food is in places it isn’t meant to be. There is something funny about it.

Ms. Rogers’ fake cake was made by Jasmine Archie, an artist from Austin, Texas, who has been surprised and delighted by the market for her quirky and colorful confectionery-inspired creations.

“People were freaking out,” Ms. Archie, 25, said of the first fake cakes she made. “It’s already on the market, but it was so untapped with my generation in my opinion. And I was like OK, I could totally market this and see what might happen.

Ms. Archie believes part of the reason her pieces are so popular is because of what the cakes represent, especially the colorful and lavishly decorated cakes.

“When I see a cake, I always think there is something festive going on,” Ms. Archie said. “I think when people look at a cake, and in my case, it just brings them happiness.”

It was this happiness and playfulness that inspired Mociun, the fine jewelry brand, to start selling fake food in its store in 2018. Caitlin Mociun, the founder and founder of the Brooklyn-based company, had a personal collection of fake food that the brand would use as prop in product shoots and as display items in their store. So many customers have asked if the fake foods are for sale, that Mociun has started offering them alongside ceramics and glassware.

“I think the humorous aspect of this one is definitely appealing to a lot of people,” said Marney Zaslav, Director of Purchasing and Operations. Especially in the last few years, fake food has become a separate category for Mociun; the items can range in price from $ 15 to $ 400.

“A lot of these things, even if we just put them in our window in the store, they definitely stop people in their tracks as they pass by,” Ms. Zaslav said.

Lately, consumers haven’t just been window shopping; they searched for fake food products online.

According to Etsy, there has been a 36% increase in searches for fake cakes on the site in the past three months, compared to the same period the year before.

There was also a 32% increase in searches for food-inspired candles and a 16% increase in searches for food or fruit-inspired ornaments over the same period. (Also: A 1,133% increase in searches for cereal candles – perhaps the hottest novelty in counterfeit home food products, thanks to TikTok.)

Dayna Isom Johnson, trends expert at Etsy, attributed the rise in searches for these items to two factors. “The first is that buyers are looking for creative and playful ways to add brightness and vibrancy to their space. Fake food is an easy way to inject a feeling of freshness into any space, while lasting longer than the real thing, ”she wrote in an email.

“The other is the influence of social media,” she added. “Etsy sellers can react quickly to emerging trends faster than big box retailers, so we constantly see emerging stocks that reflect something that we see in the air – in this case, cereal-inspired candles. “

Ms Archer, the design and culture writer, said she believes consumers are looking for home decor choices that are as heartwarming as they are whimsical.

Fake food is “a relatively inexpensive, easy, and creative way to make your home playfully wacky,” she said. “I really think there is a desire to have a sense of the game.”

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