Tulipop is a colorful world of characters created by Icelandic illustrator Signý Kolbeinsdóttir. Recently,the inhabitants of the Tulipop island seem to have left their island and spread around the world, as their is home- and kitchenware of Tulipop available in 10 countries right now.
Our intern Florian Lohse visited Signý in their newly opened office and showroom in Reykjavik to talk home and kitchenware, the first Tulipop book and more.
How did you come up with the name “Tulipop” ?
We were searching for something that would fit the characters and fantasy world that I had created and was not yet associated with something else. From the business perspective, it was important for us to have a unique name to avoid possible problems with trademark registration, domain names and such. We started to invent words and then it just was there somehow. I just liked this word.
Your products seem a bit like they would be based on a movie or a story.
You could say that Tulipop started from the wrong end, Instead of beginning with a book or a movie, we began by creating a fantasy world that just illustrates all sorts of fun products. In the beginning, I just wanted to draw characters and illustrate.
I had most of these characters already lying there in my head somehow.
Some of the characters are similar to people I know. One even has the name of my grandmother. The base of this character is inspired by her. And maybe the mushroom siblings are my children, even though my children were much younger when I made up the characters. So it’s more based on my imagination of how my own children might grow up.
When I wanted to develop a story around these characters I realized that I am no writer.
I don’t think I am good at telling stories. So I teamed up with writer Margrét Örnólfsdóttir. I told here everything about my characters. She then took the characters a step further and created a story around them. And so we could publish the Tulipop book.
Did you aim for the Icelandic market in the beginning?
Yes, of course. We are an Icelandic company and our home market is really important to us. It is great how popular Tulipop has become in Iceland. Tulipop’s success here has enabled us to grow the business and to start promoting Tulipop abroad.
To begin with, most people actually thought Tulipop was a product line from Finland. I once had to argue with a lady about this, she was very convinced something called “Tulipop” must be Finnish, not Icelandic (laughs).
What is your background?
I studied product design here in Iceland. When I graduated, this field was very young in Iceland. Most people did not know what it was about. So it was quite hard for product design graduates to really work in their studied area. There were just few possibilities.
At that time I might have started doing chairs like many others maybe, but that did not interest me.
He said “You should definitely keep on illustrating”.
So when I graduated, I started to work as a freelance illustrator, and to develop my own illustrations which later became the heart of Tulipop.
Where are your products produced?
We work with producers in many countries and our current collection is produced in Iceland, China and Taiwan. In the beginning, we were quite concerned with producing in Asia but with a lot of work and research we have been able to find good and reliable manufacturers. Our tableware collection, for example, is made by high quality Chinese manufacturer that meets all international requirements, and has Tulipop products tested especially to ensure safety and quality.
Not everything that comes from China is bad,
When I started to produce in China, it was quite an issue to me. But actually, good production depends on company ethics, not on countries.
What is your target group?
My goal with Tulipop has always been to make something fun that people of all ages would like. Maybe a bit like people love Moomin. That’s why I put “for age 0-99″ on the dinner set box.
However, the biggest Tulipop fans are probably kids from around 3 to 14 years of age. They are the ones that know each character by name, know their hobbies and have an absolute favorite Tulipop character.
Images by Florian Lohse