Are Trendy Fractured Mirrors Too ‘Psycho’ for the Home? | Kanebridge News
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Are Trendy Fractured Mirrors Too ‘Psycho’ for the Home?

Some interior designers appreciate the artful, sliced-up look of split mirrors. Others find them difficult to integrate into décor, and as creepy as the fragmented opening credits in Alfred Hitchcock’s horror classic.

Fri, Jan 6, 2023 9:11amGrey Clock 3 min

For the recurring series That’s Debatable, we take on a contentious issue of the day and present two spirited arguments—one in favor and the other emphatically opposed.

Are fractured mirrors cool or creepy? Stylish or sinister? We asked pros for their takes on this interior design trend. Plus, five picks for split mirrors worth considering.

No, their slices and shifts make them art objects
 Kelly Wearstler  (Photo by Amy Graves/Getty Images)

FOR KELLY WEARSTLER, mirrors with intentional slices or shifts in their glass offer uninterrupted pleasure. The interior designer hung Lee Broom’s “graphic and playful” Split Long Mirror in the dining room of her Beverly Hills home (left). Large chunks of its capsule shape slip out of line, and its simple black frame follows. Ms. Wearstler said she likes how the mirror refracts light and remixes the reflection of the room and its inhabitants: “Fracturing a mirror into segments immediately alters how you perceive yourself in it, shifting its basic function into an experience.”

Any object that breaks from its traditional form adds a “cool” element of interest and texture to a room, said Suki LaBarre, vice president of merchandising and e-commerce at New York-based ABC Carpet & Home, which sells similarly constructed looking glasses. “The style transforms what is typically a utilitarian object into a statement décor piece.”

Peter Spalding, an interior designer in Portland, Ore., and co-founder of design trade marketplace Daniel House Club, points to a celebrated precedent, the “glamorous” wall of alternating angled strips of mirror in British Art Deco designer Syrie Maugham’s 1930s London apartment. It’s an idea he’d gladly borrow. “A wall of fractured mirrors behind a banquette to define a dining area would be pretty dreamy,” he said, noting that such elements of surprise “elevate [design] from the mundane.”

Instagram and Pinterest have catalyzed interest in fragmented mirrors in recent years. As Los Angeles interior designer and social media influencer Dani Dazey points out, the mirrors “make for a great outfit selfie. The more unique the photo, the more your content is going to stand out.”

Yes, it’s creepy to look at your fractured self

THE SUPERSTITIOUS among us believe broken mirrors bring bad luck—or worse. “There are stories of fractured reflections capturing your soul in very early Roman history,” said Kara Phillips, an interior designer in Fort Worth, Texas, who prefers her mirrors retiring and intact. Ominous mythology aside, these designs create an unwelcome dark and edgy mood, said New York City designer Emma Beryl Kemper, who avoids the style because of the “hardness” and “sharpness” it brings to a space. Another detractor, Sydney interior designer Kate Nixon, agrees. “I seek to create homes that feel warm and inviting, not jarring or uncomfortable,” she said.

It’s this disturbing quality that turns off many naysayers. Think of the opening credits sequence of Alfred Hitchcock’s “Psycho,” where fragmented typography portends a psychotic break. While no one is suggesting such mirrors will lead you to over-identify with your mummified mother, “it’s creepy to look at your fragmented self,” objects Steffie Oehm, an interior designer in San Francisco. They irk Toronto designer Rivki Rabinowitz for different reasons. “For something as benign as a mirror, I am inexplicably irritated by them,” she said, adding that she can’t help but feel they’re “reminiscent of a closeout sale where rows and rows of overly gilded mirrors are featured alongside…literally fractured ones.”

Others reject the specificity of the design. Said Ms. Nixon, “They’re difficult to install in a sophisticated way and to mix-and-match with other styles and eras.” But for San Francisco designer Tay BeepBoop, the bottom-line is that such mirrors can’t even perform their core function: competently reflecting one’s image. “If I need a mirror, I don’t want to look into something wonky,” she said.


Five more mirrors that break with tradition

Massimo Mirror, $1,250,

John Richard A Tale of Two Exotic Gold Mirror, $2,363,

Seletti Double Sense Mirror, $699,

Hidden Mirror, $7,315,

Revne Mirror, $2,530,

The Wall Street Journal is not compensated by retailers listed in its articles as outlets for products. Listed retailers frequently are not the sole retail outlets.


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At the World Plogging Championship, contestants have lugged in tires, TVs and at least one Neapolitan coffee maker

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GENOA, Italy—Renato Zanelli crossed the finish line with a rusty iron hanging from his neck while pulling 140 pounds of trash on an improvised sled fashioned from a slab of plastic waste.

Zanelli, a retired IT specialist, flashed a tired smile, but he suspected his garbage haul wouldn’t be enough to defend his title as world champion of plogging—a sport that combines running with trash collecting.

A rival had just finished the race with a chair around his neck and dragging three tires, a television and four sacks of trash. Another crossed the line with muscles bulging, towing a large refrigerator. But the strongest challenger was Manuel Jesus Ortega Garcia, a Spanish plumber who arrived at the finish pulling a fridge, a dishwasher, a propane gas tank, a fire extinguisher and a host of other odds and ends.

“The competition is intense this year,” said Zanelli. Now 71, he used his fitness and knack for finding trash to compete against athletes half his age. “I’m here to help the environment, but I also want to win.”

Italy, a land of beauty, is also a land of uncollected trash. The country struggles with chronic littering, inefficient garbage collection in many cities, and illegal dumping in the countryside of everything from washing machines to construction waste. Rome has become an emblem of Italy’s inability to fix its trash problem.

So it was fitting that at the recent World Plogging Championship more than 70 athletes from 16 countries tested their talents in this northern Italian city. During the six hours of the race, contestants collect points by racking up miles and vertical distance, and by carrying as much trash across the finish line as they can. Trash gets scored based on its weight and environmental impact. Batteries and electronic equipment earn the most points.

A mobile app ensures runners stay within the race’s permitted area, approximately 12 square miles. Athletes have to pass through checkpoints in the rugged, hilly park. They are issued gloves and four plastic bags to fill with garbage, and are also allowed to carry up to three bulky finds, such as tires or TVs.

Genoa, a gritty industrial port city in the country’s mountainous northwest, has a trash problem that gets worse the further one gets away from its relatively clean historic core. The park that hosted the plogging championship has long been plagued by garbage big and small.

“It’s ironic to have the World Plogging Championship in a country that’s not always as clean as it could be. But maybe it will help bring awareness and things will improve,” said Francesco Carcioffo, chief executive of Acea Pinerolese Industriale, an energy and recycling company that’s been involved in sponsoring and organizing the race since its first edition in 2021. All three world championships so far have been held in Italy.

Events that combine running and trash-collecting go back to at least 2010. The sport gained traction about seven years ago when a Swede, Erik Ahlström, coined the name plogging, a mashup of plocka upp, Swedish for “pick up,” and jogging.

“If you don’t have a catchy name you might as well not exist,” said Roberto Cavallo, an Italian environmental consultant and longtime plogger, who is on the world championship organizing committee together with Ahlström.

Saturday’s event brought together a mix of wiry trail runners and environmental activists, some of whom looked less like elite athletes.

“We like plogging because it makes us feel a little less guilty about the way things are going with the environment,” said Elena Canuto, 29, as she warmed up before the start. She came in first in the women’s ranking two years ago. “This year I’m taking it a bit easier because I’m three months pregnant.”

Around two-thirds of the contestants were Italians. The rest came from other European countries, as well as Japan, Argentina, Uruguay, Mexico, Algeria, Ghana and Senegal.

“I hope to win so people in Senegal get enthusiastic about plogging,” said Issa Ba, a 30-year-old Senegalese-born factory worker who has lived in Italy for eight years.

“Three, two, one, go,” Cavallo shouted over a loudspeaker, and the athletes sprinted off in different directions. Some stopped 20 yards from the starting line to collect their first trash. Others took off to be the first to exploit richer pickings on wooded hilltops, where batteries and home appliances lay waiting.

As the hours went by, the athletes crisscrossed trails and roads, their bags became heavier. They tagged their bulky items and left them at roadsides for later collection. Contestants gathered at refreshment points, discussing what they had found as they fueled up on cookies and juice. Some contestants had brought their own reusable cups.

With 30 minutes left in the race, athletes were gathering so much trash that the organisers decided to tweak the rules: in addition to their four plastic bags, contestants could carry six bulky objects over the finish line rather than three.

“I know it’s like changing the rules halfway through a game of Monopoly, but I know I can rely on your comprehension,” Cavallo announced over the PA as the athletes braced for their final push to the finish line.

The rule change meant some contestants could almost double the weight of their trash, but others smelled a rat.

“That’s fantastic that people found so much stuff, but it’s not really fair to change the rules at the last minute,” said Paul Waye, a Dutch plogging evangelist who had passed up on some bulky trash because of the three-item rule.

Senegal will have to wait at least a year to have a plogging champion. Two hours after the end of Saturday’s race, Ba still hadn’t arrived at the finish line.

“My phone ran out of battery and I got lost,” Ba said later at the awards ceremony. “I’ll be back next year, but with a better phone.”

The race went better for Canuto. She used an abandoned shopping cart to wheel in her loot. It included a baby stroller, which the mother-to-be took as a good omen. Her total haul weighed a relatively modest 100 pounds, but was heavy on electronic equipment, which was enough for her to score her second triumph.

“I don’t know if I’ll be back next year to defend my title. The baby will be six or seven months old,” she said.

In the men’s ranking, Ortega, the Spanish plumber, brought in 310 pounds of waste, racked up more than 16 miles and climbed 7,300 feet to run away with the title.

Zanelli, the defending champion, didn’t make it onto the podium. He said he would take solace from the nearly new Neapolitan coffee maker he found during the first championship two years ago. “I’ll always have my victory and the coffee maker, which I polished and now display in my home,” he said.

Contestants collected more than 6,600 pounds of trash. The haul included fridges, bikes, dozens of tires, baby seats, mattresses, lead pipes, stoves, chairs, TVs, 1980s-era boomboxes with cassettes still inside, motorcycle helmets, electric fans, traffic cones, air rifles, a toilet and a soccer goal.

“This park hasn’t been this clean since the 15 century,” said Genoa’s ambassador for sport, Roberto Giordano.


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