Triumvirat-of-the-Seatyrs by Truniture
The exhibition “Furniture as Trophy” centers on the phenomenon of animal materials in furniture design, with a range of objects spanning from the Middle Ages to the present day. Furniture made of antlers or horn is juxtaposed to animal-skin-covered classics of modern interior design.
The oldest exhibit in the show comes from the MAK collection; it is a late-medieval half-figure lusterweibchen antler chandelier from the townhall of Eger (Cheb, Czech Republic), which will be contrasted with an antler ventilator in 1980s design by Uwe van Afferden. With a few exceptions, furniture made of hunting trophies became widely common only when it came into vogue in the 19th century. The MAK has exceptional holdings of furniture made of stag’s antlers, as, for, example, a set of different tables, chairs, and armchairs from the imperial hunting lodge at Neuberg an der Mürz, Styria.
Skins of bears, big cats, zebras, and other big game had been put to use in modernist interiors as bedspreads, rugs, or wall coverings ever since the early 20th century. In the 1920s, architects also began to use them for slipcovers for their innovative furniture designs. Thus, for example, the Swiss architect Le Corbusier designed, together with Charlotte Perriand and Pierre Jeanneret, luxury “rest machines” to relax on, which were covered with foal skin. On view in the exhibition will be his classic “Basculant”, a foal skin-covered armchair, as well as the legendary daybed of the Maharaja of Indore with a tubular-steel frame covered with leopard skin.
Other exhibition highlights include rare pieces such as an Inuit hunting stool of seal bones and skin, a loan from The Neue Sammlung, State Museum of Applied Arts and Design, Munich, a colonial smoking table made of giraffe bone and antelope horn, the tabletop covered with elephant skin, from the Museo di Storia Naturale, Venice, a sofa and a mirror from a late 19th century Austrian horn products salon.
Until today, different types of animal skin have been used in similar ways again and again to upgrade special seating furniture—or even the familiar mass-produced chair—and to give it a touch of luxury, exoticism or erotic appeal. Also featured in the exhibition are new and recent objects of horn, antler, fur and animal skin by designers and artists such Jerszy Seymour (www.jerszyseymour.com), Micha Brendel (www.micha-brendel.de), and Helmut Palla (www.turniture.at).