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Joshua Ben Longo’s Monster Skin is where the wild things are

November 05, 2012

Guy Fawkes night is past; the crypt is closed on Halloween; Alla helgons dag is no more, and the Day of the Dead is buried. The annual commemoration of failed political skullduggery; the celebration of ghouls, witches and “sexy” Halloween; and remembrances of the dead are over for 2012. Gone too is the Barbican’s production […]

Guy Fawkes night is past; the crypt is closed on Halloween; Alla helgons dag is no more, and the Day of the Dead is buried. The annual commemoration of failed political skullduggery; the celebration of ghouls, witches and “sexy” Halloween; and remembrances of the dead are over for 2012. Gone too is the Barbican’s production of Maurice Sendak’s “Where The Wild Things Are”. But we are fortunate. It is never too late to celebrate “wild things” if you own a “Monster Skin” rug or chair by Joshua Ben Longo.

Monster Skin rug by Joshua Ben Longo. Photo courtesy of Joshua Ben Longo.


If Longo had not titled his wool upholstered chair and wool rug “Monster Skin”, would we have the same atavistic attraction to them? The design, craftsmanship and superb detailing of the chair’s upholstery is evident, but would we “see” the scaly skin of a monster? Would we remember the “wild things” in Sendak’s book? Or would we see something prosaic like roofing tiles?

Longo’s pieces are not just a superb chair and a whimsical rug, they represent a masterclass in narrative. Titles make a profound difference in the viewer’s perception. Titles can attract or repel the audience, and they can make or break a product. Master colorist Donald Kaufman founded his firm in 1976. Known as the “color guru”, he consulted on the recently renovated American Wing at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. The paints he manufactures are numbered, not named. As Kaufman explained to Elle Decor (US) magazine, “Color names are extremely dangerous, which is why we use numbers instead. People see color differently because of names. Beige is undervalued because the name has a bad association. Mint sounds like the color of a hospital, but call it ‘faded eucalyptus’ and people love it.”

Longo’s “Monster Skin” title is genius, but it also connects to his legacy of “Longoland”, his mythical monster characters. What child (or your scribe for that matter) would not want to bed into the depths of the “Monster Skin” chair and dream of wild things, fabled islands and mythical beasts? Who wouldn’t want to push their toes through the wooly scales of Longo’s “Monster Skin” rug and imagine heroic adventures? Who indeed? Which is why every home needs a “Monster Skin”. DJ

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