Body Parts Are Trending in Design, and Our New Book Proves It

When was it that body parts as a design motif became a full-blown trend? We’ve been tracking their resurgence since at least the mid-2010s, when Katie Stout was making braided rugs in the shape of eyeballs, and two-dimensional hands were plastered all over kitschy throw pillows. But in the last five years — somewhere between the giant nose vase German duo BNAG produced for Felix Burrichter’s dollhouse exhibition at Friedman Benda and the butt bookends Marco Braunschweiler made for Marta’s In Support of Books — body parts in design became a full-fledged thing. That’s why we weren’t a bit surprised when we noticed, visiting the 16 homes we photographed for How to Live With Objects, that body parts were popping up seemingly everywhere — from the Nicola L eye lamp in Yoram Heller and Eleanor Wells’s living room, to the giant hand sitting at the base of Jonathan Pessin’s object-filled bookshelves, to the nose relief on display in the London home of Sadie Perry. The resurgence of body parts in design probably has something to do with the boom in vintage objects (two of our favorite pieces in the book are a Barovier & Toso vase affixed with tiny eyes and a footed Picasso vessel depicting a face) as well as the recent popularity of neo-classical sculptures — where there are busts, can butts be far behind? But there are definitely tinges of Surrealism and the long tail of ’80s-era Postmodernism happening here as well. Check out some of our favorites from the book below!

Top: Relief of nose of Michelangelo’s David, 1990s, from the collection of Sadie Perry

Vase by Angelo Barovier for Barovier & Toso, 1952

Nose Vase by Oliver Selim-Boualam and Lukas Marstaller (BNAG), 2017

Nicola L lamp in the home of Yoram Heller & Eleanor Wells

Untitled (Buttends) by Marco Kane Braunschweiler for Marta Gallery, 2016

Papier-mâché hand chair in the home of Jonathan Pessin

Carved pine side tables, 1980s, courtesy of M. Kardana

Compotier tréfle by Pablo Picasso, 1959, courtesy of Rago/Wright

Feet by Male Glaze in the home of Yoram Heller & Eleanor Wells

Foot Vase by Workaday Handmade

Entremanos Chair by Andrés Nagel, 1988, courtesy of Éclectico Studio

Cheerioh Lamp by Bernhard Dessecker and Susanne Maus for Ingo Maurer, 1988, courtesy of Béton Brut

Giant hand sculpture in the home of Jonathan Pessin

Soft hand sculpture in the home of Rodman Primack & Rudy Weissenberg

Lips, hand, and foot table in the home of Jonathan Pessin