On the Edge Savage or Natural Beauty? Taxidermy Explored

Fine Taxidermy - Rendez-Vous Exotique by Darwin, Sinke and van Tongeren

What do fashion, design, politics, and Captain Planet all have in common? The answer is simple—nature, and it can be found everywhere you look (indoors or out). From the never-ending ‘save the environment’ movement and enhanced efforts to ‘go green’, to trendy tropical prints and feathers in fashion, it is obvious that natural, organic beauty is in right now. But how far is too far? Should taxidermy hold a place in the design world, or is it tasteless, cruel and tacky?

First thing’s first—what exactly is taxidermy? You’ve surely seen deer and elk mounted in country-western themed bars or on television, but the actual definition seems to personify taxidermy as a striking and beautiful villain straight out of a fairytale. Taxidermy is literally defined as “the art of preparing, stuffing, and mounting animal hide or skin to replicate a lifelike effect”.

You’ll notice by definition taxidermy is considered an art. Stop what you’re doing and think about that for a moment…

Okay, moment over.

RENDEZ-VOUS EXOTIQUE taxidermy art by Darwin, Sinke and van Tongeren
RENDEZ-VOUS EXOTIQUE by Darwin, Sinke and van Tongeren

Was your opinion swayed one way or another?  Are you grossed out at the thought of someone skinning an animal and calling it art? Concerned that a handful of people are hunting rare and prized animals solely to obtain a unique taxidermized trophy? Did you consider the numerous displays from the Victorian Era that have been beautifully kept up and recycled for generations? Or maybe how dull a trip to the Museum of Natural History would be without the soulful displays of these animals in their natural habitats? Perhaps there is a humane way to preserve the natural beauty of our wildlife.

Fine Taxidermy by Darwin, Sinke and van Tongeren - SNAKE HERALDRY
SNAKE HERALDRY by Darwin, Sinke and van Tongeren

Queue the brilliant minds of Ferry van Tongeren and Jaap Sinke, the master craftsmen behind Darwin, Sinke and van Tongeren. These two truly glamorize the beauty behind taxidermy. Their wild prospects are carefully sourced, no animals are taken from the wild or executed—the mass majority are purchased from exotic-animal breeders or zoos after natural death or fatal accident occurs. From riveting reptiles to rare felines and flocks, this talented team truly breathes a second life into these animals that would otherwise go to waste. Ferry and Jaap restore and preserve the natural beauty of their works in wonderous and occasionally whimsical ways you may have never imagined.

serpentine snake sconce by koket
Taxidermy in the La Galerie des Animaux Champ de Bataille designed by Jacques Garcia (Photo by Eric Sander)
La Galerie des Animaux Champ de Bataille designed by Jacques Garcia (Photo by Eric Sander)

An activist may argue that the process itself is a bit of a horror show, but if the job is performed correctly there is no bloody gore or foul odor involved whatsoever. Ferry himself describes the process as “simply taking the jacket off the creature in its entirety”. By decloaking and reviving these exotic animals into tasteful and timeless artworks to be adorned and admired in designs for decades to come, it’s easy to see why taxidermy made such an impact on the industry in the first place.

Bellemore Chicago by Studio K Creative (Photo by John Stoffer)
Bellemore Chicago by Studio K Creative (Photo by John Stoffer)

While there are some who will always believe a lifeless animal in a living room is tacky or cruel, the fact that an animal was once full of life with its own story is what makes taxidermy a unique and beautiful addition to a space for those who appreciate the art form. Either way, taxidermized animals will continue to evoke emotions and eternalize a natural beauty that no man can replicate.

Words by Whitney Talkington

Article Originally Appeared in Love Happens Volume 4

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