Mushroom Inspiration

My imagination often runs riot while I’m out walking in beautiful natural surroundings. A thought crosses my mind, sometimes lingering just long enough to spark an idea, the motivation for a poem perhaps, or a drawing, or a snapshot taken with my mobile – or maybe even a chair leg!

What was it, I wonder, that provided the inspiration for the gadrooned cup on the front legs of this elegant Gustavian chair? I’m sure there are many possible answers – but one of them may come from the world of mushrooms. A fresh parasol mushroom standing tall and proud in a meadow, in sandy soils close to the seashore, has a remarkably Gustavian look to it. In time, however, the round, semi-spherical cap on a young parasol mushroom gradually begins to look more like a hat, flatter and with a raised crown, as the mushroom matures.

My dear friend is very partial to everything that has to do with the Gustavian era. She is also a keen mushroom forager and loves tucking into these delicacies once they have been fried in butter.

On my most recent visit to see her, she had just come across some parasol mushrooms that were now lying on a plate in the kitchen. They grow close to where she lives and add a special seasonal touch to her mealtimes during the autumn. The mushrooms’ resemblance to the Gustavian chair leg was striking. As we could see the chairs from the kitchen, we both burst out laughing when we spotted the likeness. This visit became a story not only of chairs, but of mushrooms, too.

Prior to the 1800s few Swedes entertained the idea of eating mushrooms. The Stockholm Mycological Society was not founded until the 1870s, so parasol mushrooms are hardly likely to have been eaten as food during the days of King Gustav III. Instead, they were left to stand intact – and maybe inspire the thoughts of a poet or a furniture-maker.

Sweden. The Gustavian era spanned the years between around 1775 and 1810.

France. Louis XVI reigned from 1774 to 1793. The Louis Seize style that bears his name was inspired by contemporary discoveries made during the excavations of Pompeii and Herculaneum.

By Gun Bjerkander Handberg

Note From the Editor:

Please Be Seated – Winnie and Bessie ISBN: 978-0-9927084-9-8

🌲 December arrives this week with Christmas just around the corner.

🌲The Please Be Seated – Historic Chairs and the Tales They Tell book series is available to order online and is a unique and charming book to gift this Christmas.

🌲Please Be Seated – Winnie and Bessie is one of three book written by the blog author Gun Bjerkander Handberg documenting chairs from around the world.

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