Ah, the sweet life! Maayan Zilberman, founder of Sweet Saba and confectioner to the fashion set, creates delightful hard candies in unconventional shapes and unexpected colors. Pizza slices, lipstick tubes, keys, healing crystals and perfume bottles get a dusting of glitter or a splash of hand-painted colors. After launching her luxury line of bespoke candy just over a year ago, the talented designer has created custom candies for clients like Shinola, W Magazine and The Whitney Museum while launching candy birth control-shaped lollipops to raise money for Planned Parenthood and “Protest Pop” hands “of powerful, colorful, inspired and unrelenting hands up in the air demanding equal rights and love,” in solidarity with the Women’s March.
Zilberman trained in sculpture at SVA in New York City before working in fashion and then launching The Lake & Stars, a lingerie line to “fill the gap between sporty everyday underwear and frilly or boudoir special occasion lingerie,” in 2007. As she told Vogue.com, “I missed making art and having a studio to make sculpture. When I still had my lingerie brand, after work it was easy to make art in the kitchen, and it made the most sense to bake.” At the end of 2015, Zilberman launched Sweet Saba as an homage to her grandfather whom she learned her experimental approach to the kitchen, spending time with him as a child.
In celebration of this sweet holiday, we sit down with the Zilberman to talk about her new line of luxury home goods, candy technology and the beauty of candy.
MOLD: You’ve designed everything from lingerie to jewelry and were making custom cakes and bubble gum before launching Sweet Saba. What inspired you to start working with candy?
Maayan Zilberman: When I was making cakes, the most frustrating part of that business was the shelf life—when I would get an order I would have to make it work within a day or two of the job. I love the idea of making something edible that can sit on a shelf and be admired for months and months. Aside from the practical aspect, I love the many forms that sugar can take, and that it really does replicate crystals and reflects light so beautifully.
How do you create the fantastic shapes and colors of the candy?
I make all of the original shapes of my candy in clay first, and then make molds the way you would for traditional sculpture. I like using old-fashioned techniques. The trick to achieving really beautiful colors is using condensed and high-quality pigments. I source mine through a candy technologist I met at a food science conference.
What’s the most challenging part of the development process?
The most challenging part of making candy is that though you might be working with intuition, it really boils down to purity of ingredients, timing and environment. Sometimes you can’t control any of those elements!
Tell us about the kitchen tool line you’re considering? What is the first tool you want to start with?
This collection has evolved over the last year to also include household products. I’m working on a collaboration with a luxury home product line that makes most beautiful detergents, so i’m guessing the first items will be ephemeral. The first real tool is a candy pick, much like an ice pick or a sculpture tool. These will debut late spring to coincide with a collection of candy sculptures.