Sea Urchins: Unusual Inspiration From Under the Sea

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They’re prickly, weird, and (hardly) the sexiest animal of the sea world, but humans simply can’t get enough! Sea urchins are considered a delicacy by gourmands, pets by aquarium fanatics, and a symbol of chic by design lovers. I, of course, fall into the latter category. I simply love urchin-inspired accessories, and I’m not alone. What is it about these spikey globes that we find so irresistible?

Our Inspiration: The Hedgehog of the Sea

Image: National Geographic

In nature, sea urchins (also known as sea hedgehogs) can be both enchanting and downright alien. They are extremely slow moving, vary in color, and can grow spines up to a foot long in some species (yikes!). While the spines are designed to deter predators, designers see these sharp quills as a beautiful source of inspiration.

From the Original C. Jere to Modern Remakes

Image: Jonathan Adler

Perhaps the most famous interpretation comes by way of Artisan House, producer of the original C. Jere sea urchin sculptures. These pieces range from wall art to tabletop accessories, and can be purchased through vintage furniture dealers – especially those specializing in mid-century modern design. Jonathan Adler also sells a version of the wall sculpture in partnership with C. Jere.

Various Shapes, Sizes, and Styles

Aside from C. Jere, urchin-like decorative accessories abound. I love the Urchin Bust on Stand, available at Pieces. Meanwhile, Kelly Wearstler offers her own sea urchin object, as well as a fabric, through Groundworks.

Image: Pieces

Image: Lee Jofa

Looking Up: The Lumiere Chandelier

This room, by Amy Morris, may be one of my favorite presentations of sea urchin décor. She not only incorporated the shape using a spectacular Lumiere Chandelier, but she also placed smaller urchin sculptures throughout the space.

Image: Atlanta Homes and Lifestyles

Here, we see the spikey Lumiere used as a glamorous counterpoint to a light and airy eat-in kitchen.

Image: House Beautiful

So, what attracts designers to the urchin’s tough exterior? I’m still not sure, but it’s definitely a trend worth considering! Would you use a sea urchin shape in your space?

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Desiré is a designer, blogger, and lover of all things glamorous. Though primarily a self-taught decorator, Desiré studied at The Art Institute, where she honed a distinct aesthetic largely influenced by the Modern Glamour movement, the theme of her popular design blog, Sukio. Not only is she considered a "closet fashionista," discreetly stashing handbags and shoes whenever possible, but, as an MIT graduate, she’s also an undercover nerd. Fashion, nerdom, and several years as a Washingtonian have combined to shape her unique perspective on interior design.