Friday, November 5, 2010

Design Cliche: Wunderkammer (I'm fancy because I use foreign words!)

You thought a collection of fake glitter boogers was bad? Here are the real cabinets of curiosities or wunderkammers:

with accompanying great article from cryology and co.

And here they are today:
from the appropriately titled Skullmaster
It's, like, totally the same.

Rich and fancy people in olden times stored their natural history specimens in rooms and special cabinets and now poor hipsters do the exact same thing.  My, how times have changed.   Most people that I know who have these cabinets spend years searching for treasures and curating their collections.  Usually it’s a hodge podge of skulls, bones, sticks, stones, leaves, bug carcasses, shells and other natural history items mixed in with your choice of grotesque elements like antique dolls heads, vintage 19th century pictures and ephemera, rusted things or even other anatomical weirdness like glitter boogers, toenail clippings (do NOT click that – even I gagged) or 26 years of your own belly button lint.

nastiness via here

Not a hipster.  Just a weirdo from here

Just kidding.  Back to NORMAL weird things that are awesome:
John Perry's cabinet for auction

Society Inc's Sibella Court via Design*sponge

Get a room hipsters!  via the Selby

Rotting toenails and belly button butter aside, I’m not really going to snark on someone for collecting things that they enjoy and tells a story about them because at least it feels somewhat organic.  Organic in that it is always a “unique” work in progress not organic in materials although yes there ARE a lot of organic materials because it’s totally science-y and we’re all students of this world right?  RIGHT?!   However I have a feeling that in the “Guide to Becoming a Creative and Misunderstood Outsider” having a cabinet of curiosities is right at the top of the list.  If you don’t know the history behind one or why you are buying dozens of tiny rat skeletons only that you MUST in order to feel complete or to be shot by the Selby then you are an asshat.  And a design cliché regardless.  People who collect glitter boogers are exempt from judgment of course.


I, being a sheep student of Creative and Misunderstood Outsider interiors, confess to having a few jars filled with things like rocks (I'm a primitively glamorous cavewoman) from places I've been to and skeleton keys which I've collected since I was about seven.  These are things that have meaning to me (read: probably part of my neuroses), are free and don't contribute to the cycle of consumerism like the tacky 'Made in China' souvenir market.  Except for my magnet collection.  I'm pretty sure all those are made in China. 


One time I was sitting in the Starbucks drive thru mountain climbing and saw an empty bird's nest that had fallen to the ground.  Wanting to preserve such a stunning piece of avian architecture I picked it up (and my latte) and happily mountain-climbed home where I preserved it in a jar where I could admire the animal kingdom's own built environment.  But then someone told me that birds and their nests are INFESTED with fleas and mites and now that little jar just grosses me out.  I can't take the lid off and throw it away because then I'll release all that filth and it'll swarm around me and then I'll die of deadly avian mite disease which I totally just made up but sounds way more worser than avian flu becuase that's just the FLU!  duh.

French Marie Claire via poppytalk

Livingetc via Moodboard
 It's like a Steampunk/art installation/cabinet of curiosity.  You just got pwned hipsters!

via Design*Sponge

Aesthetically I'll take jars and cabinets of dead things over the fake personality that Pottery Barn peddles any day. 

Or maybe I'm just missing Gil Grissom's office...

Nerd love.


  1. There you go being scary again...

  2. Figured I might as well get it out of my system since we were just talking about it. ;)

  3. Hey wait a minute. I have a jar full of rocks (and shells and pine cones and chunks of lava and feathers) from everywhere I've ever been. It sits on top of my dresser and any time I need a vacation I pull something out of my jar and remember a time when I was somewhere far, far away. Does that mean I'm neurotic too?

  4. The local tv station here did a 3 part special on my works move. When we have the video posted on the work site I will send it to you. You will not believe the collection of odd items they found while packing.

  5. Paul - Organized yet stylish hoarding is an indicator of my deep-seated emotional issues. THAT doesn't mean you're neurotic but I'm willing to be you express your neuroses in other ways. ; )

    Shannon - Would love to see that! Secret: the picture of the snake jar was taken at the Colorado Natural History Museum!

  6. You said not to look at the toenail thing, but I couldn't help myself. I HAD to look. When someone tells me not to do something it only makes me want to do it more.

    Wait a minute...

    You probably already knew this... that's why you put the link in... and then said not to click it... You totally just manipulated me! Well played, Sunday, well played.

  7. OK... The belly button lint... really? Do people really get lint like that in their navels? Little round bits of lint like out of the dryer?

    Speaking of lint, I keep a little trash can in the laundry closet, and I put nothing in it except the dryer lint. After nearly three years of laundry, the little trash can finally filled up. Before I took the mountain of lint to the compost pile, I took a picture of it. I suppose a more resourceful person would have spun the lint into thread and made a garment out of it, but I'm not that person.

  8. I think this is a really cool post. I used to keep natural oddities when I was a kid. I had a dog skull, a raptor claw fossil, a trilobite fossil, some weird sea shells, and a few other weird things. I ought to find them, and keep them some place neat.

  9. Paul, I hope the lava isn't from Hawai'i. Lava taken from hawai'i is supposed to curse the people who take it.

  10. No Hawai'i lava for me. Mine's from Pompeii, Herculaneum and another site around the Bay of Naples. Italian lava brings good luck and great fortune and can be traded for airline points.

  11. Zrzuce - you're a horrible green elitist liberal if you can't fashion clothes out of dryer lint! But if you did then you could display it with your other oddities. You'll be super cool and then we'll have stuff to talk about when we run out of wine. Thanks for your comments today. And yes you fell into my hyperlink trap. ; )

    Paul - Airline points?! So practical you are. ; )