As the boundaries between art and design become increasingly fluid, we like to see how trends and movements in the art and design worlds shape everyday household objects. This week we are taking a look at birdhouses, invented in the early 19th century by Charles Waterton as a means to attract assorted birds and fowl onto his homemade nature reserve. Two centuries later and birdhouses are still common in suburban and rural communities, as many of us who took shop in middle school having built our very own nest box (the proper name for a birdhouse).
Trawling through Pinterest, Etsy, and assorted other sites, we've collected an assortment of contemporary birdhouses that range from the ultra practical to the extremely indulgent. Either way, by the end, your perception of birdhouses will likely be forever changed.
Etsy seller KoolBird makes a range of sleek birdhouses, including the one above, that seem destined for the home of an architect and each design is fully eco-friendly to boot!.
Designed by ceramicist Lenneke Wispelwey, this ceramic bird nest's faceted roof gives it a sharp dynamism in contrast to its billowing shape.
Jim Donovan's two-toned Modern Birdhouse is available to buy on Etsy.
Designed by Blaze Makoid Architecture, the unorthodox frame structure is intended for the ground-nesting Eastern Towhee. Photo via the Madoo Conservancy.
Made of sanded Mahogany, this inventive birdhouse was designed specifically for the Eastern Screech Owl. Photo via the Madoo Conservancy.
Created by London Fiedworks, Super Kingdom as the culmination of several independent "show homes" brought together to inspire visitors to reflect on what gentrification and social stratification would look like when placed in a natural environment. Sort of like a forest animals' decentralized version of the stratified world depicted in J.G. Ballard's High-Rise, the designers built high-end bird houses whose influences came from several symbols of modernist home occupied by fascist leaders, including Mussolini's Palazzo della Civilta Italiana in Rome, Italy; Stalin's Palace of Science and Culture in Warsaw, Poland; and Ceausescu's The People's House in Bucharest, Romania, now the Palace of the Parliament. Photo: © London Fieldworks.
Artist Walter Zurko utilizes birdhouse forms to investigate the intention behind tools and the cage-like cubes above highlight how quickly a home can become a cell, as evidenced in Matter of Time Matter of Time courtesy of the artist.
Michael Graves' ominous birdhouse sculpture above appears more like an industrial courthouse, where dangerous birds are judged blindly by the sparrow of justice and sentenced to a life of hard labor. Or perhaps it could be a municipal buildings for birds, where the bureaucratic machinations of the different types and species are...Ok, we're just being goofy now. But there's no denying the sheer presence of this "bird building," especially when placed besides his Wren Birdhouse below, which also brings to mind an avian government building, menacing and hiding a nasty underbelly. Of course, at the end of the day, these are still ultimately birdhouses, but also serve as testaments to the power of artistic vision and design sensibility to completely transform seemingly mundane, everyday objects into eye-catching and timely statements.