07 April 2011

I don't get the skull thing

Skull motifs, which were once the sole province of biker bars and pirate costumes, have gone mainstream. Never mind that they should have stayed in the biker bars.

I can't open a catalog or a magazine without seeing them. It's one thing to see an Ofrenda on the Day of the Dead but the mainstreaming of skull decor has taken on an American-ized scrubbing and the result is a complete break with the actual significance of a skull.

They're a warning sometimes and historically, they were a kick-you-in-the teeth reminder of everyone's  mortality.

The whole thing mystifies me. However, the French design studio Pool is going to release the following plastic chair at the Milan Furniture Fair this month.

At first, I chalked it up to a de-contextualized skull to be used by the unthinking around their barbecues but then I learned its name. The name of this chair is Souviens Toi Que Tu Vas Mourir.

Extra points to whoever translates that name. I want one of these for the name alone!


  1. Roughly "Reminding you that you are going to die."

    Interestingly, it's in the familiar "tu" rather than the formal "vous."

    (4 years of high school French.)

  2. Surely that second picture is a Hello Kitty skull?

    Love that wallpaper; it should star in the next James Bond movie in the villain's residence. The villain will be stroking a house chicken in a sinister manner.

  3. That chair really can't be comfortable.

    Is life that bad, this is the statement people want to make? I mean really what about this says "happy" or "well adjusted?"

  4. Ding ding ding ding! Raina takes the point.

  5. Reina, death is considered a "familiar" subject ... and if you're going to sit in a skull, well what's more familiar than that?

  6. I think that being comfortable with your own mortality makes you very well-adjusted, but maybe that's just me. I'm a big fan of "everyday macabre" personally, I always have been. I love spooky horror films and black comedies. Death is a natural occurence.. an everyday occurence.. why not be comfortable with the symbols of it?

  7. "Remember that you will die" - wow. I have no words right now. Is that the theme of my sunday mornings with my nook and the neighborhood cat - who isn't really mine - cuddled in my lap. It's not going with my whole zen outdoor motif. But my kids would dig it.

  8. Piece of cake, Paul: “Remember that you will die.”

    Not that I actually speak French. In fact I thought it was Spanish, but hey, that’s what Google’s Language Tool is for!

    The only thing I have liked skulls for is their use in the comic strip “The Phantom.” It was my favorite strip as a kid, and as an adult I read it from time to time when I could find it in a newspaper. The Seattle Post-Intelligencer carried it during my childhood in Helena, Montana. Because that city is so small (28,000) a lot of people subscribed to a large Sunday newspaper from another city. We used to have a paper route for the Spokesman Review, which was from Spokane, Washington, but my favorite was always the PI.

    Coolest of all was the Phantom, “The Ghost Who Walks,” “The Man Who Cannot Die.” He lived in the Skull Cave in Africa and was actually a white man who was the 21st descendent of the first Phantom. The cave looked like a skull from the front, and he sat on a skull throne.

    The Africans (natives was the term used then—I don’t know if that got PCed out) were superstitious, and because he wore a purple costume and a mask, they didn’t realize the change from one generation to another. But for four hundred years, from father to son, the legacy lived on as the Phantom protected all those who needed it. He had no special powers, but he did have a skull ring on his right hand, and if he hit you with it, two things tended to happen. One, you were knocked out, and two, when you woke up, you had an indentation of a skull on the side of your jaw that was absolutely permanent.

    OK, foolish stuff, but as a kid I ate that with a spoon! Even as an adult I still like the strip and would surely read it again, were it available. Some years back they made a movie with Billy Zane that I loved. Unfortunately, that thing sank like a stone, so there is no chance at all that a sequel will ever be made. Here’s a link to an article on the strip:

    Sorry to take over your blog, but you really rattled the right cage today, man. I loved that strip!

  9. This trend has extended to baby clothes as well - which I think is VERY strange. I was shopping for a baby shower the other day and actually had trouble finding a onesie with no skull in the department store. Maybe it's just me, but newborns and skulls just don't go together.

  10. I don't find it to be troubling, just odd.

  11. I'm there with you, Paul. But, the flocked skull wallpaper photograph is kinda awesome.

  12. Wow, now we have blogger royalty checking in. :) It's good to hear you chime in Tula. That wallpaper is, in the words of Modern Sauce, bad-assical.


Talk to me!