Fungi are everywhere, including the home. I’m sure you have noticed how, after decades of relegation to just a color – a sort of gray-olive-taupe, mushroom is again a regular motif in home decoration.
|Lars Bolander often decorates with French mushrooms carved from poplar wood.|
|Biotroph Cookie Jar from Anthropologie|
|Sweetly embroidered pillow cover I found at our local Yves Delorme boutique.|
I suspect Fungi’s recent popularity has to do with our greater environmental awareness and renewed appreciation for the natural world and handmade craft. But I also think there is an element of nostalgia: a link to fantasy and folklore and favorite stories. The mushroom conjures up our childhoods of the 1950s, 60s, 70s and 80s.
|Mushroom Soup wallpaper from Ferm Living has a retro feel.|
|Rhode Island artist Ashley Van Etten is inspired by woodland mushrooms and mid-century textiles.|
|Barbara Barry's Swell accent table for Baker is both sensual and a bit Sputnik.|
In fact, mushrooms have been favorite images long before the 20th century.
|One of a set of framed French engravings from Vandekar of Knightsbridge|
The rustic, antique stone mushrooms we now value as garden ornaments began life with a much more practical purpose. They were originally used as staddle (or steddle) stones to elevate storage buildings, like granaries, off the ground… away from damp and vermin. The mushroom shape is a case of form follows function. The cap provided more stability and made it difficult for animals to reach building foundations.
Staddle stones were then reused ornamentally and probably inspired future mushroom-garden embellishments: reproduction staddle stones, cast concrete sculptures and planters, wood and ceramic garden stools and quaint birdhouses and feeders.
|Genuine 18th century staddle stones, like these from the Antique Swan in Austin, Texas, are difficult to find.|
|Haddonstone offers brand new reproductions.|
|Barbara Israel is the premier American dealer of garden antiques. She often handles staddle stones, as well as vintage garden ornaments, such as these faux bois mushrooms from the 1950s. Check out the baby mushrooms "growing" out of the bases!|
|Mushroom Birdhouse created by ceramicist Michael McDowell in Denver.|
|You can order this charming nest depot from Charleston Gardens.|
Fill it with twigs, twine and plant materials to help neighborhood birds build their nests.
Although most Fungi are inedible, they can look beautifully appetizing. The curvaceous mushroom shape is familiar and exotic and… surprisingly functional for the adornment of tableware.
|Set of hand-painted Champignon dinner plates, designed by Alberto Pinto, is available at Branca in Chicago.|
|Detail of Champignon plate|
|Vintage dinnerware is fun and reasonably priced.|
Above: Franciscan's Woodlore pattern
Below: Noritake's Merry Mushroom
|Mushroom-shaped housewares can be infinitely practical like these mills from Crate and Barrel...|
|Or stunningly sublime.|
Buccellati silver mushroom salt and pepper and mustard jar are available
at Michael C. Fina and Lakeview Home Accessories.
Earlier this spring, Situ Studio created an amazing installation in the Great Hall of the Brooklyn Museum. They essentially reinterpreted the neo-classical columns originally designed by McKim, Mead and White in 1893. Constructed out of plywood, metal, white fabric and light, these new columns are like fantastical, ethereal (and enormous!) mushrooms that entice and envelope visitors.
Even when more modestly-scaled, decorative mushrooms always convey a little magic and mystery.
|Miniature porcelain (above) and mercury glass (below) mushrooms,|
all by Two's Company/Tozai Home, can be purchased at Digs in Washington State.
|Set of vintage Blenko glass mushroom candlesticks for sale on Ebay... right now!|
|Mushroom votive candlesticks by John-Richard|