A Design Revival—In Silhouette

Silhouettes by Mike Miller for West Elm

Antiques dealer and artist Mike Miller recently debuted a new designer collection of pillows and wall decor for West Elm””comprising generic silhouettes of pets, people in motion and graphic shapes””that is generating a tremendous amount of buzz. Shoppers and design fanatics are already clamoring for them, but the silhouette itself is nothing novel at all.

They say everything old is new again””and in the case of the silhouette, the Mike Miller collection is just one mark of its vehement revival. While this decoration has loads of graphic modern appeal, the silhouette as an art form””and an affectionate way to capture the likeness of a loved one””has been around for centuries. For a thorough rundown on this long-lived art, Country Living produced a superb story on its history in 2009 that has since been adapted into a slide show at countryliving.com.

A collection of antique silhouettes. Image courtesy of Country Living magazine.

True antique silhouettes are always precious finds at antique stores and flea markets, but there are a number of resources for customized versions with the promise of becoming modern-day keepsakes. I find them oh-so charming. The accompanying sentiment is always a special one and all of these examples would make incredible gifts. I’ve included a few of my favorites below. Click on each picture to learn more:

Lucky Me Beads

Le Papier Studio

Le Papier Studio

Be Good Studio

Fire Hydrant Press

Fire Hydrant Press

Paper Cuts by Joe

Jenny Lee Fowler


Carter Kustera, a Brooklyn-based illustrator known as “America’s favorite silhouette portrait artist,” at work.