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There’s a fungus among us. Mushrooms, sources of sustenance and mystery, have been sprouting everywhere in the design world, be it whimsical toadstool prints or gold and platinum fungus-inspired lamps. And let’s admit it, what could be a more appropriate post-pandemic trend than the emergence of something that thrives in dark, out-of-sight places—exactly where most of us have been the last year—lying in wait?
Don’t believe us? Check out the multicolored cashmere mushroom poofs by the Elder Statesman or a Liberty London psychedelic mushroom-patterned cotton. See the custom hand-carved wooden ’shrooms at Jamie Creel’s new Millbrook, New York, outpost, the ceramic lamps by Nicholas Pourfard at Love House, or KRB NYC’s framed mushroom watercolors (if they can keep any in stock). We’re undoubtedly living amid a ’shroom boom.
“Since they’re like spores, they’re multiplying by the zillions,” insists Harry Heissmann, the New York–based designer who has incorporated mushrooms as stools, table objets, and even printed on bedroom wallcovering into his projects.
The trend has grown beyond design too, captivating fashion and beauty as Vogue and Town & Country have observed recently. Nor is this the first time mushrooms have fascinated designers. Mushroom stools were a popular item in the early 19th century and have had their moments since the psychedelic 1970s and a decade ago when Danielle Trofe began making chandeliers and ceiling pendants entirely out of mycelium, or mushroom fiber. Still, judging by Instagram feeds, store shelves, and industry experts, the mushroom has never been more “now.”
For many the appeal is pure fantasy, whether psychedelic or nostalgic.
“It’s a little Alice in Wonderland,” Heissmann says.
Shop-owner Jamie Creel, who finds himself drawn to early mushroom objets from the 19th and early 20th centuries, agrees: “There’s something sort of magical about a mushroom.”
“Every time I go to auction in Paris to bid on them, they go crazy,” he says.
Creel’s upstate–New York store, Creel & Gow, has a variety of ’shrooms available. Artisan-made, wooden mushrooms that range from small tabletop items to 20-inch creations can fetch up to $850 a piece. Three of them were purchased in the first weekend he transplanted them to his Manhattan flagship, Creel says.
For some, the connection to mushrooms is personal.
John Derian and his boyfriend Stephen Kent Johnson, a photographer, forage for mushrooms each fall near where they live in Provincetown, Massachusetts, in order to photograph them.
“We don’t eat them because we don’t really know whether or not they’re poisonous,” Derian qualifies. “They’re just so cool.”
Derian sells a wide variety of fungi-inspired knickknacks in his store, including decoupage plates, vases, and ornaments (glitter-and-papier-mâché mushroom objets are on the way). In anticipation of mushrooming demand, Derian has increased his order of mushroom Christmas ornaments and has arranged to make a larger Christmas tree than ever—adorned solely in ’shrooms.
For Rebecca Gardner, event planner extraordinaire and owner of the e-commerce site Houses & Parties, the allure is aesthetic.
“I think they have the appeal of coral. They’re beautiful as objets,” she says.
The Savannah, Georgia–based entrepreneur amped up and elevated the traditional ’70s ’shroom motif and had them hand-embroidered on crisp white linen placemats and napkins. And the fashionable Gardner has her eye on the Atelier MVM mushroom lamps—which include ones cast in 22-karat gold.
“All the fancy girls are accenting their impressive interiors with these lamps,” Gardner insists. “You know, mushrooms add levity and delight.”
The lamp-maker himself, Matthias Vriens-McGrath, who counts Kate Rheinstein Brodsky and a long list of It girls as clients, has a very simple take on today’s mushroom mania: “Everyone,” he says “needs a ’shroom in their life.”
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