Ask a group of people what they think of taxidermy as home decor and you’ll get a lot of opinions. Some folks might say it’s morbid, grotesque, and outdated to display dead animals on the walls of your home. Others will point out that stuffed specimens and trophies like heads, skulls, and horns are a way to show an appreciation for the beauty of nature and that they impart that “rustic lodge” feel that so many are fond of.
But is it time for the stuffed animal look to die off? Some interior designers seem to think so. Jonathan Adler calls it the one design trend he wishes would go away for good. “Not a fan,” he told Popsugar. “It makes me so sad. I think it makes people feel edgy, which I don’t understand. It’s just sad.”
The design team at Havenly, an online interior design service agrees: “We think taxidermy in interior design is a dying trend (pun intended?),” a spokesperson tells CountryLiving.com. “The idea of showing off dead, stuffed animals as trophies is a little unsettling in most interiors, and after a few years of over-saturation in dark bars and hipster apartments, we’re officially over this trend.”
But as Kevin Kemper and Howard Hawkes, founders of the Palm Springs firm H3K Design, point out, “It’s possible to use taxidermy while still protecting the environment. Because of this—and because the appeal of taxidermy is so rustic—we try to select antique pieces whenever possible instead of more recent ‘trophy kills.'”
But if you’re a fan of the trend, there are a few factors to consider when purchasing taxidermy, most importantly the law. “Be sure it’s an established business that is well informed of the laws pertaining to buying and selling wildlife,” George Dante, founder of Wildlife Preservations, told Fox News. “Many laws are very complicated and vary from state to state as well as federal. Breaking them can come with extremely high penalties.” Plus, the news outlet reports, the really old stuffed animals (pre-1930s) could contain arsenic and mercury, as the toxic substances were once used for preservation and insecticides.
An environmentally friendly alternative that has been trending in recent years? Faux taxidermy—in a range of materials including wood, paper, and ceramics. Havenly likes adding faux busts to kids’ rooms and nurseries for a playful (and perhaps less depressing) touch.
As for Kemper and Hawkes, they say the stuffed animal trend is moving away from deer and moose heads and toward winged creatures. “Feathers over fur,” is how they describe the new look. “Stuffed birds bring a touch of rustic grace and elegance to any space. But like a lot of decor, and especially with animals, less is more. We’re seeing more and more walls filled with birds; there’s a fine line between being inspired by nature, and feeling trapped in a Hitchcock movie.”
Also on the horizon? Insect taxidermy. We’re talking butterflies, beetles, praying mantises, even moths. “All can be used beautifully and, when displayed correctly, add a singular appeal to a space,” Kemper and Hawkes explain. “Like most taxidermy, this is very client-specific—not for those with an aversion to creepy crawlies!”
What do you think? Should taxidermy go away for good, or is there still a place for stuffed animals and antlers in interior design?