THE RIGHT STUFF: Animal Attraction

Written by Amanda Rae Busch
Photography by Kevin Sprague
Fun and unique shopping finds for September

From a peacock’s majestic plumage right down to the points of a crouching cougar’s claws, John Robshaw paints animal kingdom constituents with exquisite detail upon his line of cotton-linen throw pillows and bolsters. Just as the multicolored feathers of these exotic creatures serve to attract the most desirable mates, the artist’s use of brilliantly pigmented inks will likely draw shameless gazes—and perhaps envy, too—from couch-lounging guests.

Starting at about $130 at Homeward Bound, 325 Stockbridge Rd./Route 7, Great Barrington, Mass., 413.644.0099; 20 Bank St., New Milford, Conn, 860.350.0060

Cat’s Paw, a kaleidoscopic take on a traditional animal print, is responsible for the success of some of the most coveted floor coverings from Annie Selke’s Dash & Albert Rug Company. Available in a slew of sizes and with matching pillows, the micro-hooked, 100 percent wool rugs in four neutral background shades are speckled with rainbow markings—cult-favorite carpeting not only because of its crush-proof quality but thanks to its nearly clash-free color compatibility. Starting at about $54 for 2- by 3-inches at Pine Cone Hill: The Home Store, 55 Pittsfield-Lenox Rd./Route 7, Lenox, Mass., 413.637.1996

Re-imagining an early American tradition, photographer Susan Mikula merges Melamine, an economical, reusable material, with her ultra-abstract fine-art prints. “We’ve been putting pictures on plates since the dawn of time,” explains the Western Massachusetts-based artist of her reusable dishware printed with dreamy bluebird images. “[Birds] have this great, familiar form … yet we feel so distant from them.” Printed in a signed, limited edition of two hundred, the dinnerware is totally functional (though who would dare put fork and knife to these beauties?). But Mikula’s process—manipulating vintage Polaroid cameras to capture eerie shots of life-size plastic fowl—is “wonderful and crazy”: the obsolete film from the now-defunct company, which she sources from Europe, might be history as early as February 2010.  Ten inches in diameter, starting at $125 each (or $75 each for four or more) at Ferrin Gallery, 437 North St., Pittsfield, Mass., 413.442.1622

Follow a cardinal rule of jazzing up home décor on the cheap: work with what you’ve got. Start by sassing up an old set of drawers with quirky and colorful drawer pulls, like these enameled-metal lobsters and dragonflies. The trinkets may be cutesy, but they’re smile-inspiring nonetheless. About $14 at B. Mango & bird, 74 Main St., Lenox, Mass., 413.637.2611

While you certainly don’t want rodents of the traditional variety sneaking into your kitchen, this capricious cheese cutter is charmingly welcome. The polished ebony handles of the stainless steel slicers in the three-piece set also pay tribute to another beast from the wild: the omnipotent water buffalo. About $25 at Passiflora, Village Square, Route 23, Hillsdale, N.Y., 518.325.6559

Bearing more significance than just a hunk of carved rock, an aged-stone griffin stands sentinel over a living room or guards against garden trespassers with patience and pride. Popular in art, literature, and architecture since medieval times, the mythological creature of lore—which boasts the beak, talons, and wings of an eagle and the torso of a lion—represents a supreme marriage of bird and beast.  About $100 at Campo de’ Fiori, 1815 North Main St./Route 7, Sheffield, Mass., 413.528.1857