So I'm looking at Dwell's new baby zebraskin rug [coming to Target next month, just $180!] and wondering "Seriously, is that somehow not supposed to be a reference to the skin of a baby zebra?"
I worried if I was being too pedantically literal, but no: it's not a zebra print; it's actually shaped like a flayed zebra. Unless you live in the Polo Store, will your kid ever know that a bearskin rug actually involved killing and skinning a bear? Or that, in 19th century England, such big game hunting trophies simultaneously served as emblems of Civilized Western Man's domination of Nature and the dark, savage colonies and as almost caricaturish tokens of masculinity and power? [Want some fun reading on colonialism, imperialism, and masculinity? Try looking up lion hunting in Nancy Henry's biography of the writer George Eliot on Google Books.]
It's easier explaining why Jimmy Stewart's talking to that candlestick than trying to make such relics relevant reference points for The Kids These Days. [On the other hand, cuddly animal by-products like sheepskins have never been more vital. Thanks, Ikea and the Global Meat Industry!]
But does it have to be that way? I don't think so. How could we make the idea of killing something, skinning it, and turning into interior decoration more relevant for 21st century kids? Update up the old concept? Go retro with a fresh, contemporary twist?
Joshua Longo's cashmere/wool/polymer clay Monster Skin Rug up at the top of the page has been making the designblog rounds lately, though it's cool-looking, it doesn't really push the concept forward any more than this plush polar bear rug. Also, the teeth make me nervous around small, crawling kids. [longoland.com, also $15 at collections, etc.]
I'm surprised I can't find any Winnie the Poohskin rugs, though. Or a Blueskin Rug, Or a Brobeeskin Rug. Though I'm sure the last one's just a matter of time.
But there is an Elmo Skin Rug: