Catch of the day: Funboy snags artist Donald Robertson for some whimsical pool floats


Super-sized inflatable versions of items such as swans and pizza slices (ideal social media accessories) have made a splash in summer pools over the last couple of years. An Instagram video of actress Sofia Vergara attempting to ride a bucking bull pool float in April has garnered more than 7.1 million views.

Upping the ante, the 2-year-old Venice company Funboy has issued limited-edition artist designs, beginning with a reinvention of its swan float in 2016, with colorful graphics by Miami artist Alex Yanes; a tribal pattern by Venice artist Kelcey Fisher; and an aerial image of Sydney’s Bondi Beach by L.A. photographer Gray Malin.

This month, the brand has introduced a whimsical mermaid float ($128) and colorful mermaid tail bobbers ($69; all at dreamed up by bicoastal artist and illustrator Donald Robertson, also creative director at large for the Estée Lauder Cos. for the last decade.


The Funboy X Donald Robertson floats officially launched at a poolside cocktail party at Sunset Tower Hotel in West Hollywood on June 6. The event was attended by a crowd that included burlesque icon Dita Von Teese, celebrity florist Eric Buterbaugh, interior designer-to-the-stars Martyn Lawrence Bullard and Davis Factor, cofounder of Smashbox Studios and the Lauder-owned Smashbox cosmetics. (April marked the debut of a limited-edition, lip-shaped Funboy X Smashbox pool float for $79) an existing design re-created in three metallic colors to match shades of the company’s Liquid Lip Metals.)

“Funboy and Donald are a perfect match,” Factor said. “He has kids who are always in the pool and he can relate to the fun of the floats. Everything Donald does is magic. He brings so much joy to people with his art and illustrations.”

Funboy cofounder Max Barrett recalled a first meeting when Robertson drove to his apartment and unfurled a six-foot-long canvas decorated with a colorful concept drawing.

“We had been fans of Donald for so long. We thought, ‘We’re in the big leagues now,’” Barrett said. “We try to design everything to be extremely unique, beautiful to look at and functional. Cool floats have become such a thing. But you can’t worry about competitors. You just have to keep innovating and stay ahead of the trend.”

Added Barrett’s brother, Blake, who also works in the business: “The energy and ideas of the artists push us to think bigger and better. What’s great about Donald is that he’s so imaginative. Mermaids are real in Donald’s mind. There is no fantasy.”


Asked whether she might use the mermaid floats in her burlesque show, Von Teese responded, “I love them and I always wanted to do a mermaid act. I have a big giant shell that I haven’t really used yet. So maybe I’ll incorporate it. I did have a black latex mermaid tail back in the ’90s … But who didn’t?”

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