Sunday, November 30, 2008

Graphic Trend: Antlers

(old post)

What’s with the antlers?

That was my question last year when I started noticing the preponderance of antlers in home decor magazines. But they weren’t necessarily real antlers, harvested by some hunter. In fact they were more often manufactured antlers, white plastic or porcelain being the most popular materials. I don’t get it. What’s the fascination with Bambi and his family? Is it because there are so many more white-tailed deer inhabiting suburban and even urban areas? Are they being used as some kind of totem to protect the owner from a close encounter of the vehicular kind with a member of this species?

Here’s what I’m talking about...

You can have a mod antler coat rack, instead of the “icky” REAL ones you see in grand houses in Scotland or the lodges in Montana.

You can even have a cozy wool rug with antlers on it:

but these aren’t cozy; they’re stylized within an inch of their lives. They’re iconic and they’re sterilized, like the coat rack above.

I live in a place where people hunt, and pretty soon we’ll be seeing dead deer hanging in trees and in barns after having been shot; you have to drain the blood out of them, you see, as part of the butchering process. I’ve had to clean tufts of fur and splatters of blood off my car after having hit one. There’s a dead deer in the yard of the neighbor I’m cat-sitting for this week. Somebody hit it and shattered its hind legs. It smells like death, and some large animal has eaten big chunks out of it.

Deer mean I have to check for ticks after I’ve been working in the garden, so that I don’t get Lyme disease. Deer mean I don’t plant tulips anymore because they eat them all. I chase them out of my lilies and away from my cherry and apple saplings on a daily basis. Deer are a part of my daily life.

I’m (obviously) used to viscera with my deer, so this posh, sterile treatment of what is a very live, gritty, mucky subject is very odd to me. I don’t often spend so much analyzing the psychology of a design trend, but this one is fascinating to me. What does this posh iconography mean to a person to whom a deer is an abstract concept? What does it mean to them to have it on their wall, on their floor, on their shirt? I’m puzzled. Anybody got an idea?

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