Thursday, July 31, 2014

Forget everything you know about “fine Corinthian leather”. (There’s new skin in the furniture game.)

I am in the early planning stages of a home make-over that will involve the acquisition of some new furniture.

I haven’t given much thought to what a new couch might look like, beyond the internal debate between blue and green. We’ll see what my design team (a.k.a., my sisters) comes up with.

One thing I do know for sure is that whatever ends up in my living room will not in any way, shape, or form resemble human skin. Which means that UK furniture designer Gigi Barker is off the list. Barker:

…has created a line of furniture made to look, feel and smell like human skin. (Source: Huffington Post)

I was going to say “shades of Buchenwald”, only to realize what a poor choice of word “shade” was, given the stories about lampshades made out of the skin of Holocaust victims. In any case, whatever there is that’s arty about upholstery designed to mimic skin, it is certainly a perverse and distasteful homage to the Holocaust.

Who would want such a thing in their home?slide_359380_4005821_free

Especially given that it looks like the icky bits hanging off one of the folks featured on “My 600-lb Life”. Seriously. Can you see curling up on this with a good book? Taking a bit of a sit-nap on a rainy afternoon? Watching the old ball game and root, root, rooting for the home team?

Yuck. I say, yuck, yuck.

Not only the yucky look, and what’s got to be the yucky feel. But the color? There’s a reason why the color formerly known as Crayola Flesh does not show up on many decorators’ palettes.  

Call it peach. Call it pinky-beige. Call it beigy-pink.

I’ll call it like I see it: belly roll or beer gut.

And as for making it smell like skin – whatever that means:

The furniture has been infused with human pheromones and aftershave.

Old Spice? Hai Karate? Aqua Velva? English Leather?

Since you don’t get to pick your color or fabric, maybe you can customize the olfactory.

And just how do you maintain this furniture? Noxzema? Oil of Olay? Dove (“one quarter cleansing cream”)?

While the average sentient adult might avoid this furniture like a rash, kids apparently can see beyond the superficial. Or maybe it’s that they just revel in yucky stuff. (Heard any good poop joke lately?)

"Children have been one of the most interesting demographics in relation to the work," Barker said. "Without any of the hang ups we later develop, they are free to truly explore and interact with the work. Work regarding the human body is very personal and we all have a very immediate reaction to it so the reactions have reflected this."

Out of the mouths of babes comes plenty that’s wack, that’s for sure.

Me, I’ll take my hard-earned hang-ups, any old day.

By the way, when it comes to furniture, art don’t come cheap.

The stool alone costs about $775 and the skin chair will run you close to $2,550, according to WIRED.

Barker is expanding her line beyond furniture, and has made herself a skin-like dress. (Fashions inspired by Hannibal Lecter…)

When I was growing up, there was a factory in Cherry Valley (which sounds charming, but is actually a mill-town that is part of Leicester, a town outside of Worcester) that made something called “elfskin.”

As kids passing by – which we did when taking rides to the Cherry Bowl for ice cream or to St. Joseph’s cemetery to visit family members of the late and lamented variety – we would always comment about “elfskin” – just what it was, and what it was used for.

Whatever it was, I bet it came in better colors than Caucasian belly fat. And I bet it wasn’t infused with any pheromones, either.

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