Macabre TREND: Victoriana drama

November 6, 2009

Skulls, insects, diagrams of horrific medical instruments, Victorian-style Darwin-esque etchings and Natural History sketches are all over the world of design at the moment. Let’s call this trend: Macabre. It’s dark. It’s gothic. It’s black. It’s creepy. Think of a dusty museum display case in the 1800s – full of spidery death and decay; skeletons, faded labels, stuffed birds with beady eyes, sad rows of dead butterflies, scientific diagrams of insects, plants and animals – all lifeless.

Re-found Objects/NorthumberlandHas this dark romanticism got something to do with 2009 being the bi-centenary of Charles Darwin’s birth? Perhaps. But whatever the roots of this dark trend, I’m LOVING it all. RE, one of my favourite shops, has embraced it with relish, launching a whole new ‘Macabre’ collection, with vintage plates covered in skulls, eyes, snakes, scorpions, lizards, lobsters and spiders, as well as insect napkins.

Re-found Objects/Northumberland

Re-found Objects/NorthumberlandAlso, check out their ‘Esquire’ notebooks with sketches of lethal-looking barber’s and dentist’s tools as well as some less-scary brushes. Their ‘Gardener’ notebooks and ‘Cook’ books all feature similar Victorian etchings, too.

mensware

notebooks REThe recent revival of the glorious Pictorial Webster’s – A Visual Dictionary of Curiosities might have contributed to the current obsession with flora, fauna, and dead things sketched or etched…

Picture 20Picture 19Featuring over 1,500 engravings that originally graced the pages of Webster’s dictionaries in the 19th century, this chunky volume is absolutely fascinating. Meticulously cleaned and restored by fine-press bookmaker Johnny Carrera, the alphabetically-arranged engravings show everything from Acorns to Zebras, Bell Jars to Velocipedes – a Victorian list of ‘curiosities’. Crafting fans will be as excited as I am about the rubber stamp set that features these fantastic images…and the A-Z wall cards are CRYING out to be framed as wall art, or propped up in nurseries and designer offices…

pictorial webster's stamp set

pictorial webster's wall cardsThese cute cards also tap into another trend we’re seeing emerge – the Alphabet trend – but let’s not complicate things with all that now!! Having a quick look for some high-street Macabre buys, I spotted a black skull candle in Paperchase, a skull cushion in Dwell, and some funky flock skull wallpaper from Barbara Hulanicki at Graham & Brown

skulls

I’ve been a fan of the Victorian-style sketched jewellery at Paraphenalia for a while now, and it fits in with this look perfectly!

paraphenalia

Let’s end with this pretty butterfly calendar from Anthropologie. Have a lovely, if a tad macabre, weekend. – Ellie

butterfly calendar

2 Responses to “Macabre TREND: Victoriana drama”

  1. Kate Says:

    a book of pictorial curiosities sounds right up my street, I’m very tempted to make a few new book purchases after reading your blog 🙂


  2. Those napkins are so original! Will certainly be picking up a set to use at dinner parties! Much easier and cheaper than new plates. Have you tried Dan Hillier’s website? He alters engravings similar to what you’ve found here…


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