They are two and they create something really special – together they are All The Fruits.
Words by Martina Saladino
They are two and they create something really special – together they are All The Fruits. Behind the name, is illustrator Stephen Cheetham and interior designer Jessica Pinotti, respectively from England and Italy. Coming from different backgrounds and experiences, they manage a studio in Bologna, Italy, where they design impressive prints, witty wallpapers and loads of good eye-candy.
Jessica and Stephen first collaborated in 2012, when they had the opportunity to take over the walls of London cafe “Tina, We Salute You”. Jessica tells us: “We decided to cover the room with a wallpaper decorated as a tromp-l’oeil living room in Stephen’s style. It was a success and people really loved it. Not long after that, we received an offer to decorate the walls of another bar. We soon realised that our skills were complementary and started thinking about this collaboration more seriously.”
Their work is aesthetically pleasant: simple but stylish, clean yet bold. By using geometric motives and lines, they create a framework which is calming using mostly pastel colors, and quirky due to the alternation of various shapes. The way they mix colors and patterns is so charming that their work would brighten up even the gloomiest office and mind. Jessica and Stephen’s work differs from others because their aim isn’t to create a mere decoration; it’s a lifestyle choice. Indeed, “patterns are very powerful, and when used correctly can have a huge effect on their environment”, they told us.
Currently they work on commission for numerous clients, while producing their own collection. About themselves they say: “We’re no experts, but what we’ve learned so far is that, as in any creative field, it’s important to have a strong identity” – and for sure they do.
Why “All The Fruits”?
S: We were chatting about ice cream, as we do quite a lot, when the subject of Tutti Frutti came up. I didn’t know that it’s not an Italian ice cream flavour… But liked that it translates to ‘all the fruits’, which I thought was rather nice!
What is it about pattern and geometry that appeals to you so much?
J: I have always had an interest in decoration, having studied it at degree level. The power a pattern has to influence a space or object is inspiring to me. Patterns are very powerful, and when used correctly can have a huge effect on their environment.
What inspires your work?
J: We take inspiration from a number of different fields: from the old textile artists of the 20th century like Anni Albers to minimalist painters like Agnes Martin. We also follow contemporary fashion and furniture design. When travelling we were found to be very inspired by the local architecture, and nature, from plants colours to birds plumage.
Can you name some countries or cities that have had an impact on your production?
J: The latest example is our wallpaper ‘Miami’
A few months later we were in Mumbai, and again, found ourselves surrounded by incredible examples of Art Deco. Probably the reason I’m now working on a project that’s inspired by the Art Deco iron works on gates and fences.
You spoke about the “Cut & Paste” project, which I love.. How did it come about?
S: At the beginning we knew nothing about wallpaper: we couldn’t afford to print in huge numbers so we asked a small local printer if he could print wallpaper for us. He said yes, but couldn’t assure that the sides were 100% matching. So we just asked ourselves: why don’t we design a wallpaper that doesn’t need to match?
“All The Fruits” is a successful case of artistic collaboration. How does the creative process work when it’s made in partnership? How do you deal with sharing creative control?
S: It is a learning process, the more we have worked together the more we understand how each other work and playing to each other’s strengths.
J: It’s not easy: two creative minds mean two different egos and different ways of thinking. It hasn’t always been a smooth process, sometimes our opinion clash, but most of the times it’s a benefit. As for sharing control, we are good at different things: I’m the one that gathers ideas, inspiration and creates colour palettes. Stephen has excellent software skills and a lot more patience than me. He is also better than me at dealing with customers and distributors. We are happy to do what we’re good at. It’s very important to trust each others taste and make sure we have the same goal in our heads.
Wallpaper has recently seen a coming back especially in its vintage style. What you are doing is minimal and very modern. How is this trending in the industry?
S: We try to make what we like, and if there’s a space for it in the market we’ll keep it, if not, we’ll discontinue it. Wallpaper is not something we want to focus on in the future. We like it and will keep doing it, but ideally we’d design for wallpaper manufacturers, and not producing our own. When we set out as ATF, our main aim was to be designers rather than producers.
Among your projects, I really like the tee you designed for Gas As Interface. Is fashion something that you would like to move forward to?
S: Definitely, it would be amazing to start more collaborations with the fashion world. Actually, we have already started moving in that direction, so watch this space!
What does it mean to be a creative in 2015?
J: If you have a genuine passion, a wide knowledge of what’s been done, what’s going on, and a clear idea of where you want to go, it’s a great time to be a creative. Creatives today have a lot of freedom and access to every imaginable tool. You can really do anything you want.
What’s the taste of watermelon for you?
J: Probably one of the most attractive colour palette in the fruit world.