For Halloween, we’ve rounded up 13 of the most grisly, unsettling and spooky designs both new and old, from skeleton-inspired furniture and lighting to a chair that hides a disappearing ghost.
1 Pussy Cats table lamps by Studio Job
A black cat is bad luck. But two black cats…with glowing eyes…locked in a death match? That’s downright terrifying! Belgium’s Studio Job produced the cast-bronze Pussy Cats collection for London’s Carpenters Workshop Gallery in 2014, with five pieces inspired by the studio’s own resident felines, Paula and Jambe Blanche.
2 The Animal chair collection by Máximo Riera
When Spanish artist Máximo Riera launched this collection of animal-inspired chairs in 2011, he began with the Octopus chair seen here. The limited-edition set now includes chairs and sofas inspired by rhinos, elephants, walruses and toads, among others, but this Octopus throne reigns as the eeriest of the bunch – especially when finished with a custom paint job for added realism.
3 Transitional Object (PsychoBarn) by Cornelia Parker
Mounting an installation on the rooftop of the Metropolitain Museum of Art – which boasts a prime view overlooking Central Park – is an annual tradition, but this year’s edition takes on a particularly spooky design. Conceived by sculptor Cornelia Parker, PsychoBarn – whose run ends on Hallowe’en – transplants a scaled-down version of the Bates mansion from Alfred Hitchcock’s classic thriller Psycho, juxtaposing its ramshackle mansard roofline against the shimmering skyline of 21st-century Manhattan.
4 33 Step chair by Zhipeng Tan
When it debuted during Milan Design Week earlier this year, Zhipeng Tan’s skeleton-inspired stool was dubbed “Satan’s chair.” But despite its grisly form, a polished golden finish makes Tan’s 33 Step chair (as it’s officially called, in reference to the number of vertebrae in a human spine) a stunning objet d’art – the perfect addition to any scary modernist house.
5 Ghost collection by Studio Drift
Amsterdam’s Studio Drift is perhaps best known for its kinetic lighting and sculptures, but it’s their Ghost collection that won a spot on our list of spooky designs. Each piece in the 2008 collection – which includes armchairs, an arm-free chair and a stool – has a rigid, blocky form in solid acrylic. But in the right light, a wispy, smoke-like pattern of sub-surface texture emerges like a phantasmagoric presence.
6 Apex Predator shoes by Fantich & Young
The Apex Predator collection of tooth-soled footwear from British fine art duo Fantich & Young now includes patent-leather pumps, gold-toothed Oxfords, and even Adidas shell-toe sneakers. But it was these bright red Mary Janes – which suggest a gruesome combination of innocence and voracity – that caught the world’s attention following their release in 2014.
7 Jolly Roger chair by Fabio Novembre for Gufram
Italian designer Fabio Novembre’s skull-shaped Jolly Roger chair was launched in 2012, in traditional white and morbid black. The response was so strong that a year later, they followed up with new editions in fluorescent orange, blue, green and red. Novembre says the skull represents “life the rock-n-roll way,” but it makes frightfully good Hallowe’en decor, too.
8 Haute couture by Iris van Herpen, Anouk Wipprecht and Lauren Bowker
This trio is leading the wave of designers applying cutting-edge technology to fashion, often turning to macabre forms to express their ideas. At left, the so-called “snake dress” by Dutch couturier Iris van Herpen, whose sculptural frocks take cues from bones, wooden cathedrals, crystals, even water and smoke, and have appeared on such stars as Björk and Lady Gaga. At centre, the 3-D printed Spider dress, by Anouk Wipprecht of the Netherlands, is ringed by sensors that activate motorized proboscises, which can strike out at anyone who gets too close. And at right, the raven-inspired Blackfeather dress by Paris-based Lauren Bowker, whose garments frequently explore textiles and other materials that change based on environmental conditions or even digital input.
9 Smoke collection by Maarten Baas for Moooi
To finish the wingbacks, armchairs, dining chairs and chandeliers of Moooi’s Smoke collection, Dutch designer Maarten Baas starts with a wooden frame, torches it from top to bottom, then coats the charred surface in a thick coat of transparent epoxy before upholstering. Since its 2002 beginnings, Baas has expanded the concept to include such classic pieces as Gerrit Reitveld’s Zig Zag chair, the Campanas’ Favela chair, and even a piano. Perfect for cozying up to the fireplace in your haunted mansion on a hill.
10 Real Scary by Sid Lee
While werewolves and vampires are spooky-fun, Sid Lee Collective is helping to draw attention to some legitimately terrifying issues with Real Scary, a collection of masks that illustrate real-world problems like factory farming, pesticide abuse and over-fishing. Last week in Toronto, the masks were displayed for one night only, before being auctioned off to benefit World Wildlife Fund Canada.
11 Memento Mori chandelier by Maxim Velčovský for Lasvit
Traditionally, a memento mori is a small object or insignia that serves to remind the bearer that death awaits us all, and our actions should be guided by thoughts of the next life, rather than this one. In April of this year, Prague designer Maxim Velčovský, working with the Czech glass experts at Lasvit, launched the concept into a full-scale chandelier of pressed and sculpted glass, with skull-and-bone pieces carefully assembled by hand.
12 Love Me Tender chair by Didier Faustino for Super-ette
With its brushed steel legs that taper to fang-like points, Didier Faustino’s limited-edition Love Me Tender chair conjures up a visceral sense of menace; as manufacturer Super-ette described it upon its launch in 2012, the chair “looks so dangerous that it requires tenderness and gentleness to be handled.” The result is truly scary – but especially for homeowners with hardwood floors.
13 All the Eternal Love I Have for the Pumpkins by Yayoi Kusama
Yayoi Kusama has been making pumpkins large and small for decades – from the polished silver gourd recently installed outside Philip Johnson’s Glass House in New Canaan, Connecticut, to a perforated pumpkin pop-up pavilion for Louis Vuitton, erected in 2012 in London’s Selfridges department store. Seen here is “All the Eternal Love I Have for the Pumpkins,” which was installed at Victoria Miro gallery in London this past summer, and speaks to a boundless affection for pumpkins that traces back to Kusama’s childhood.