Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Troubling Trend? Taxidermy

I think most of you know that I adore peacocks. I even included them in my pillow collection as I adore the coloring and the regal beauty of the birds. I was troubled to see that many vendors at the winter shows where highlighting taxidermy as their dominant accessories.
Dead, stuffed animals were everywhere: under glass domes, on decorative pedestals, framed as art, and posed on all fours.

Peacocks were the leader in this disturbing trend. But birds of all sizes and varieties were available in abundance. The collection of dead, stuffed aviary specimens at Guadarte was beautiful but creepy.

This trend was not limited to fowl, large mammals were also in vogue with lions, tigers, giraffes, and even elephants available for sale.

It was sad to see these proud, beautiful creatures reduced to elements in a visual display selling fabrics.

The most disturbing was a display by a famous window designer for Hermes that portrayed a luxury campsite filled with Hermes products that was stuffed full of exotic animals including an elephant. I just don't get it!

All of this is in answer to the resurgence of the Cabinet of Curiosities a trend that began in the Victorian area. Personally I think it should have stayed there.

While many of the items in this new decorative category are not as disturbing as stuffed tigers or cheetahs they were all once living creatures who were killed for our need to decorate our living spaces. This is a trend that I just cannot get behind and I find it odd that it is becoming so mainstream. In a world were you feel uncomfortable wearing fur or exotic leather I wonder why there is not an outcry against the killing of these animals for decoration.

What do you think?


Kathy @ Creative Home Expressions said...

I don't like it. In fact, I find it a little creepy. The only bird I had out in my home was a fake cardinal with a clip-on from the dollar store at Christmas time. I would be sad to see the peacocks in person.

Dumbwit Tellher said...

The first few that you see used in a design scheme you think how lovely. But you are right, when it becomes a trend & they are popping up everywhere, then it becomes quite appalling. O.K. if they died naturally but it would be naive of me to think they all did. Glad you brought this to attention. Will be paying much more attention from now on.
All the best,
x Deb

Lauren said...

I agree, the irony in that Hermes display is incredibly ironic and disturbing. I'm not a fan

Anonymous said...

I am so with you on this subject!! It disturbs me to have dead animals - skins, fur rugs, etc in my house, so I stay away from it. Where is the concern for other things besides ourselves? Are we getting more selfish & going backwards as a society?


Anonymous said...

Very disturbing trend to say the least. It is like we are going backward to the Victoria days, were they stuffed everything and anything. We are much more educated now and no so naive to think somebody did not suffer for our visual enjoyment. These acts are very selfish, someone life was taken away for the process of beauty or art? Not beautiful at all!

Mélanie A. said...

I love it. Indeed the name of my blog comes from there. Once I saw a Tv a report of Jacques Garcia and his cabinet of curiosites in Champ de Bataille and I fell in love. But I'm still wondering if I coul live with so many dead animals. I prefer alive animals. In Paris, did you go to Deyrolle.

Unknown said...

I must admit that the first time I saw a full size stuffed peacock I went gaga and wanted one. But when you see so many of them you realize that this is not a good thing. Even the dominance of coral as a decorative element is cause for alarm as many of the most beautiful corals are endangered. Glad I'm not the only one who finds this trend alarming.

Michelle said...

Just simply creepy!! I think it was Architect Design Blog who said in Elle Decor...it's a trend he could also do without!!

I agree...yup still creeped out.

Finally back in the west Jackie?? You globtrotter!! How exciting.


Anonymous said...


When my husband and I were in France more than 10 years ago, we toured several chateaus in the Loire region. One had a separate lodge/cabin on the grounds near where the hunting dogs were kept. (I know hunting is a popular sport, but I've never been a big fan.) The inside of this lodge was COVERED in antlers. Literally, every inch of wall and ceiling space was covered. I was so uncomfortable in the space that I immediately left. Although it's not as appalling as what you saw at the tradeshow, I feel that celebrating/displaying the demise of any animal is very unappealing.

Unknown said...

I am so with you on this Jackie. I remember visiting a friends family at the holidays and they had a huge display case of animals that he had killed and stuffed as part of the "theme" of the room. It gave me the willies and I couldn't wait to leave. Gosh, as a kid I seriously cried when they killed King Kong in the movie!! yes, I know, a bit sensitive. In a nutshell, I strongly oppose!

vicki archer said...

Not for me Jackie...xv

Anonymous said...

I don't want stuffed animals in my home, but I'd be a hypocrite to bash anyone who does. I eat meat, wear leather shoes and carry leather headbags. Is there really a difference in how I use dead animals?

Beadboard UpCountry said...

It is disturbing if they are indeed being killed for taxidermy alone. But then, along the same lines it seems no one gives a second thought to animal skins on their floors......I'm not sure of the consistancy of the circumstances there, either.

La Petite Gallery said...

I love my Bear rug, it was my Husbands. Years ago he went on many a Hunt all over the world.
I don't mind the mounts on the wall or a rug on the floor. But Dear God, a whole stuffed animal
that I can't handle, it's to Real.
A few years before he passed away. He said he would never enjoy hunting again, only a camera.

CarolAnne - camdesign said...

So creepy, I agree... I think the only dead animal that is ok is the cow hide rug (which I have) I am thinking they are coming from the meat industry, not sure but I am thinking that makes is sort of ok... but killing animals to stuff them for the top of your console is so creepy...
Loved your talk on the skirted round table...x

Anonymous said...

New to this blog but thought I would leave a comment; in many African countries these animals are just like cows are here in the US, killed for their hides and for food. The hunting of these aminals often times is done on large 40 thousand plus acres farms. In fact the late Dr. Christian Barnhard, who did the first heart transplant has a large farm where people from all over the world go to hunt zebra as well as severl other animals. Each and every piece of these animals are used for food, for the hides and yes for tourists to taxidermy and take home. Although it is not to everyones taste it is something that is the backbone of many of these peoples lives.

Anonymous said...

My daughter and I use our front room as our library / homeschool area. She likes to gather natural speciments (both flora and fauna) for her science studies. And the idea of a Cabinet of Curiosities intrigues me.

I'm not too keen on large dead things collecting dust in my house. But, items of nature used as decorative accents with books in a cabinet--whether they be in shadowboxes, under domes, within terrariums, gathered in jars/bowls, or sandwiched between glass--are acceptable to me.

*Chic Provence* said...

In a museum, it is one thing. But to become (once again!) wholesale design items, using animals for decoration is heartbreaking to me. But, even though I am trying to go vegetarian, I do carry a leather bag, wear leather shoes, have leather footstool, etc....which wasn't any less unpleasant for the animal than being stuffed and put on display for your viewing pleasure. It is a dilemma..


Visual Vamp said...

It all started with Hipster Chic - people collecting stuff no one wanted, odd old stuff like taxidermy and specimen charts, and nature specimens, and vintage or antique medical tools of the trade.
Hollister Hovey is the-late-to-the-hipster-party blogger who put it on the radar of bloggers.
And I think it was Jeffrey Bilhuber who got the peacock thing going in Elle Decor.
The home design shop I work in has a white peacock for sale, and because it is so expensive it has been in the shop since it opened three years ago.
It sits on a high perch right over my desk.
Like everyone else, when I first saw the taxidermy trend in the form of the peacock (and antlers everywhere), I thought it was odd and pretty and kind of unique.
I like odd and pretty and unique.
But a little goes a long way.
That's the problem with a trend - people beat it into the ground.
Turning a fabric exhibit into a diorama from The Natural History Museum is a yawn at this point.
In this case the excess was not spectacular or witty or successful.
I like using hides. I like the peacock in the shop. I played with taxidermy pheasants my hunter dad had around the house. I love my skeleton anatomy charts hanging in my kitchen.
But it can and does get creepy like the Victorians of yesteryear wiping out entire species of birds to provide feathers for ladies hats.
Some of my clients have asked for taxidermy, and shopping the world taxidermy market for it is really creepy.
The peacock at perch. was made 35 years ago, but does a vintage or antique taxidermy make it any less disturbing? Still this fabulous white peacock is one of the things in the shop most customers respond to in a wow factor positive way.
I for one, would not like my feathered work place mascot in my home, though i appreciate his beauty.
xo xo

Anonymous said...

Welcome to the www.the-little-museum-shop.com . You will find on this website antique specimens of taxidermy birds available on sale and various objects relating to natural sciences. All the taxidermies result from antique collections dating essentially of the 19th century. A unique chance to acquire rare and sometimes historic specimens.

Gilles Grid