Antiquity Ubiquity
Shaking the dust off of curiosities of the past
Life / 23 May 2011
The eerie Victorian aesthetic that was once the subject of a niche cult following is now a widely evolving obsession. As evidenced by interiors laden heavily with taxidermy and wunderkammer oddities, designers have become increasingly drawn to objects that bear an aura of mystery, and now the fright that such curiosities elicit is becoming the main event in a diverse spectrum of environs.
Design Panoptikum: Cheeky residents of Berlin would argue that many of their city’s dwellings are living time capsules. Now, one of those time warp apartments is open to the public. The Crypt of Civilization is not slated to open until 8113, but in the meantime, Berlin’s Design Panoptikum is meant to be a microcosm of the vast project. Preserving some of history’s most prodigious design oddities, Design Panoptikum’s collection includes kitschy collectibles from the GDR and earlier, as well as freakish medical tools, prosthetic limbs and machines that require expert consultation. While the front rooms are a design shop of sorts, the back rooms contain a curated museum of past rarities.
Sleep No More: New York’s McKittrick Hotel should have debuted in 1939, but when WWII hit, the decadent space was sealed off from the public. Dormant and perfectly preserved since then, the hotel is now open for business. But the 100 rooms of 530 West 27th Street are not for sleepovers – rather, Sleep No More, an immersive theatrical production from British production company Punchdrunk, has taken over the space. Audiences are invited to explore the space, which includes a taxidermist’s shop, a witch’s lair, a detective agency and a graveyard. Further enhancing the spook factor, absolute silence and Venetian masks are required at all times.
Derrière: Though the cuisine of Parisian restaurant Derrière leans contemporary in style, its home—a historic multistory apartment with a lounge, dining room, bedroom and boudoir—is anything but. Quirky touches like a surrealist ping-pong table and complimentary boxes of sour gummy candy are juxtaposed with a ramshackle jumble of purposefully dusty couches, collapsing bookshelves, and taxidermy woodland creatures. A Victorian-era armoire situated ominously at the end of the top floor hallway acts as a secret passageway to a deliberately stuffy room of curiosities. Entering the armoire evokes a feeling of transcending time—one that resonates effectively among Gen Ys who grew up reading C.S. Lewis.
©The Intelligence Group