Think of the teapot, a simple vessel both functional and ornamental that has been endlessly reimagined over the centuries. Or the chair in its many permutations.
The birdhouse is another object that has inspired flights of fancy. Anne Schmauss, author and co-owner of the store Wild Birds Unlimited in Santa Fe, says she has sold thousands of birdhouses and has seen firsthand the fascination they hold.
For her new book, “Birdhouses of the World” (Stewart, Tabori & Chang, $22.50), Schmauss searched the world to showcase the “coolest” birdhouses and tell their stories. And what fantastic birdhouses she has found, some habitable and others purely decorative.
Her book leads off with Thomas Burke’s massive Skywalker Ranch birdhouse, a replica of George Lucas’ Skywalker Ranch that was installed on Lucas’ Marin County property in 2011. The 600-pound home, suitable for sparrows and European starlings, was made from recycled and reused materials and is the size of a small car.
A simpler birdhouse, the Ralph, nods to Modernist architect Ralph Rapson’s iconic 1945 Greenbelt House, one of the early Case Study houses. The handcrafted house with angled rooflines is made of sustainably harvested wood and built with birds in mind.
And then there’s Anthony Cateaux’s the Scream birdhouse, fashioned of welded metal and inspired by the Edvard Munch painting. Does this one attract birds or scare them away? David Bruce’s more whimsical Weathered Wonders birdhouses incorporate reclaimed wood and old and new hardware, including faucets as perches.