The “Little Squares of Happiness” of Michael DiMartino’s Pillow Top Brand
By Nathan Tavares
Michael DiMartino wants to help you top in every room.
Well, “top” as in those finishing touches that elevate a space from blah to bold, like the cheeky, often erotic, and super queer designs of his home decor brand, Pillow Top. While he offers blankets, throws, and more, the real treats are his handmade pillows, from “Entering Provincetown” signs to Judy Garland. Then there’s the confections from his ongoing “Food Porn” series, which sees his drawings of male bodies paired with treats, like scoops of ice cream melting down ample butts.
“Pillows change an entire room,” DiMartino says. “They’re little squares of happiness.”
You might’ve spotted DiMartino’s first spot at Whaler’s Wharf, where he sidled up to the sewing machine and whipped out pillows and custom orders. He opened that “incubator” space last May, and is now gearing up for the grand opening of his permanent shop—a space double the size by the library—this Memorial Day weekend.
DiMartino and his husband have been visiting for over 20 years, though they didn’t move to town until January 2021 to be closer to family in New York. At home, he’d been sewing coats for his mother, along with blankets, dog harnesses, and other treasures. When he and his husband strolled Whaler’s Wharf one day and spotted a little shop for rent, they decided it would be the perfect place to park his sewing machine.
Sure, you can find simpler geometric designs on offer, but DiMartino says of his designs, “I want the store to be queer-centric. I never quite understood how important that is until now that I’m getting older and seeing what’s happening in the world.” Take one of his “Food Porn” entries, which sees a penis poking out of a banana peel, which his mom just didn’t get. Who’d want that? Turns out, a lot of people. That design, along with a leather harness pillow, are the customer favorites.
After a plush first year, DiMartino is looking to top his success in his new space: The red barn that housed the former Good Scents store. It’s fitting that the two-floor, 720 square-foot spot bridges the retail-heavy east end and the galleries of the west end. He’ll showcase both his own pieces, and the work of other local and global artists, like Cuban artist Rene Farias. “The second floor will have a queer erotic gallery where you can get original pieces, and we’re also turning these pieces into fabric to put on pillows on the first floor,” DiMartino says.
The space itself is a work of art, with wide-plank floors, furniture crafted from antique salvaged lumber, and the bathroom’s hand-cut wallpaper, which DiMartino crafted from vintage skin mags as an ode to A-House. Come Friday nights, the front courtyard will be a favorite hangout spot to people watch during gallery walks. “I think it’s going to be something that’s really special,” he says. “It going to be a fun experience, so I’m really looking forward to it.”