Well on Friday afternoon I was walking down Spring Street from Broadway to West Broadway and halfway between Mercer and Greene Streets I stumbled upon what has to be the coolest shop I've ever found in my life.
A shop window similar to this display stopped me dead in my tracks.
I'd stumbled upon Evolution, a 17-year-old natural history store.
I make a living from convincing people to do things like upholster their chairs in toile but what I'd really love to encourage people to do is hang a beautifully mounted Calloplophora solli.
Sadly, not everybody shares my opinion that insects are spectacularly beautiful.
Just look at these patterns and colors. Fabric designers take note.
Evolution has an entomology staff whom they describe as artisans. Artists is more like it. Mounting and preserving insect specimens for scientific study is an exacting and difficult discipline. That Evolution has a staff of them speaks volumes about the store and about the city it calls home.
I love design in all of its forms and for me design starts in the natural world. As designers we mimic and recreate the shapes, forms and colors of the natural world and seeing the natural world displayed like this is a real thrill.
Some people get freaked out by the very idea of an insect and that's too bad. Others get worked up over the idea of mounting what were once living creatures. I don't see the point of that either. Preserving biological diversity doesn't stand a chance if nobody understands it and the key to understanding it is high-quality, scientific specimens. That I can buy them too is a bonus. Evolution has a great statement on their website that sums up their commitment to the world's insects:
All our insects are legally obtained and have been cleared by U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. We do not sell any species listed in the Endangered Species Act. Most of our insects come from insect farms located in some of the most exotic tropical and subtropical regions on earth. Insect farming provides income for indigenous peoples, eliminates the burden on wild caught species, and promotes the maintenance and care of natural environments rather than its exploitation, as is often the case with other agricultural businesses.Evolution also sells bones, fossils, minerals, taxidermy specimens and shells. They sell everything with the same sense of awe and respect that they sell their mounted insects.
If you ever find yourself on Spring Street and you're wondering what sort of thing you can buy me, this would be a good start.
Here's a close up because I just can't help myself.
If you can't make it to Spring Street, here's the link to Evolution's website.