Vintage Kitsch or Modern Wit?

Vintage Kitsch or Modern Wit?

Misty Adair
Dec 3, 2009

In a showdown between the kangaroo and the pig, who would win? No this isn't a childish riddle, but a real question about the aesthetics of quirky tchotchkes. We agree that a little levity in decorating is a good thing, but where are the boundaries between tasteful and tasteless humor in design?

Confession #1: We actually find the Coink, a modern piggy bank, to be a clever version of the old standby and to make saving pennies much more fun. We also noticed that at a recent gift exchange, the Coink was less than sought after.
Confession #2: We think the 1950's kangaroo change and wallet holder is absolutely hilarious and when we found it at an antique store, we had to have it. Our friends did not agree and gave us a look of bewildered resignation.

Confession # 3: When we found this vintage vase of a bombshell with long eyelashes and dangly pearl earrings, we squealed with delight.
Confession #4: The cream and sugar set of the coquettish girls was found in a family cupboard and makes us smile every time we dress up our tea.

These vases, containers and figurines of animals and people seem to have been common collectibles in the 40's and 50's. They can be found in antique stores and are hotly sought after by on-line collectors. Interestingly, 50 years later we see sleeker, modern tongue-in-cheek gifts and accessories (usually in all one color) at some of the trendiest shops, as if what was old is new again.

(Deer Shot Glass, Wonderland Candle Holder, Rolling Salt and Pepper Shakers, Gun Vase)

If these new items seem cool and chic, does that mean that their older counterparts are completely outdated? Or more specifically, if a kangaroo wallet holder is amusing to you, is it just as worthy of a place in your home as a Jonathan Adler snail?

Next question: If you do push the aesthetic envelope, go for humor, and collect these unconventional accessories, how do you display them in the a way that seems fresh and intentional?

Readers, we'd love to hear from you in the taste debate and to see your photos of off-beat collections that work.

Related Links
Gift Fair: New Designs from Jonathan Adler
Artistically Displayed Collections
Pez Collection Display
Unique Collection Displays

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