Why Are Mushrooms Suddenly All Over Home Decor?

Photo credit: Urban Outfitters
Photo credit: Urban Outfitters

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Every once in a while, through the winding supply chain systems that end in the items we buy for our homes and closets, a strangely specific motif emerges. There was a stretch a few years ago where I recall nearly every shelf of Home Goods and rack at Urban Outfitters had been slapped with a slew of owls: peering over sides of mugs, hooting out from T-shirts, welcoming you on cutesy doormats. Well, it seems the latest fad in this vein is: the mushroom. Specifically, a spotted, usually red and white variety.

The dotted fungi have been cropping up on my Instagram for a few weeks now; then last week Emily Schuman posted this telling Reel from her local Urban Outfitters featuring mushroom motifs on socks, scarves, and shirts galore. Just a few days later, Amanda Brooks confirmed that the obsession had reached across the Atlantic, posting a photo of a table of decorative glitter mushrooms which, Brooks says, are “flying off the shelves” of her Cotswolds, England, shop, Cutter Brooks and Co.

Tough luck to the enokis and shiitakes of the world, though; the shroom obsession appears heavily weighted to one species: the Fly agaric, or Amanita muscaria, a member of the Toadstool species recognizable for its bright red cap and white markings. When in the hands of clothing and accessories designers, the fungi take on a graphic, cartoonish quality that harkens to the grooviness of 1970s and postmodern design.

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So why the obsession with mushrooms right now? Is it a side effect of—or even a sly wink to—the recent legalization of magic mushrooms in some parts of the world, a phenomenon Jonathan Adler, for one, has alluded to in his cheeky "Druggist" canister series? (The Fly agaric, while magical looking aesthetically, is not hallucinogenic, if you were wondering). Is it an homage to increased interest in plant-based diets? A celebration of the recent revival in gardening brought on by the pandemic? A continuation if the renewed popularity of 1970s mushroom lamps? Some combination of all the above?

And more importantly, does the mushroom have staying power—or is it just another owl-shaped flash in the proverbial pan? We’ll have to wait to find out; for now, if you’re feeling like a fun-guy (had to), you can shop some mushroom home goods below, with offerings ranging from psychedelic sheets to graphic throw pillows—and those aforementioned glitter shrooms. And no, none of them are edible.

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