Jellio: Capturing Childhood Through Design
Banana split chaise lounges? Gummy bear chandeliers? Anything goes at Jellio
By Sarah Emily Gilbert
They say that some people never grow up, but in the case of Mario Marsicano of Jellio, his desire to hold on to his childhood has worked in his favor. For decades, the New York native collected antique toys, but instead of stashing them in boxes, he started having glass cubes made that both put the toys on display and acted as furniture. From coffee tables to end tables, Marsicano’s home became like a functional toy museum. But, what started out as a hobby turned into a business idea when Marsicano’s friends started asking him to build furniture for them.
Fast-forward to 2015 and Marsicano and his team have turned his penchant for toys and design into Jellio, a web-based home furnishing company that “combines childhood fun with interior design.” Jellio transforms childhood staples into novelty furniture and home décor like giant cupcake seats, ice cream sandwich benches, and Rubik’s Cube® tables. Jellio’s products are often retro-inspired, but they have managed to grab the attention of some of the most modern customers like Google, PlayStation, and Nickelodeon.
In 2005, Marsicano wanted to make a Revell Model Car Kit into art, so he turned to artist and sculptor Kevin Champeny. The result of Marsicano’s idea and Champeny’s artistry was “Drive In,” a giant version of the 1950s car model kit. When Dan Schneider (who happened to be the creator of several Nickelodeon shows) decided to purchase the car kit turned wall art, Marsicano knew that he was no longer “playing around” with Jellio. Thanks to Mr. Schneider, Jellio furniture started popping up on several Nickelodeon shows like Drake and Josh, Victorious and iCarly – home to the famous Candelier. Jellio’s custom-built Candelier is made with approximately 15,000 hand-strung acrylic gummy bears, and when it was featured in iCarly’s bedroom, Marsicano’s target audience suddenly changed.
“I started Jellio for adults who wanted to keep their childhood close and have a sense of humor by putting one or two of our items in their home as a conversation piece or a focal design point. When Dan Schneider found us and put a whole bunch of our pieces on Nickelodeon shows like iCarly, hundreds of thousands of teen and tween girls found us. Now kids all over the world know Jellio.”
Marsicano is just as lucky to have had Schneider as one of his customers as he is to have Champeny as Jellio’s production manager and designer of several one-of-a-kind Jellio products. Champeny is the man behind the famous Candelier. He painstakingly strings each gummy bear onto the lamp, spending over 156 hours to construct a single Candelier (which you can view in this youtube time lapse video).
So how exactly does Marsicano, a man who spent a decade in advertising, come up with the ideas for such unique home décor items? He simply thinks back to his favorite childhood memories. In fact, Marsicano and Champeny have found that when childhood is your inspiration, the ideas just flow.
“When you’re talking about childhood, there’s so many buckets to play with from toys to candy to space to animals to sports…there’s all these different territories, so I present products that could fall under all these different territories – something that people gravitate towards. Jellio has this list of items that we still want to produce; it is about 20 pages long. There’s no end to the ideas when it comes to mixing home décor with childhood, it’s kind of endless, you can just keep thinking about them.”
Jellio’s fan base stretches the country from a cupcake crazy women in Wisconsin who once ordered six cupcake chairs for her dining room table (in order to match the rest of her home décor), to the local owners of Princeton Playspace who ordered a Lego reception desk in time for their December grand opening.
So parents, the next time your kids are complaining about having to go furniture shopping, why don’t you make it a furniture adventure with Jellio?