Designer makes tea set out of mammoth ivory, and the pitchforks come out


Just look at all that ivory!
Just look at all that ivory!

When designer Marc Newson decided to craft a silver tea set that featured handles made from “responsibly sourced” mammoth tusk and then to sell it for £82,000 (about $126,677), he should have realized he was doing two things that completely piss people off: not only was he using ivory in the midst of a poaching crises (never mind that mammoths have been extinct since 1650 BCE), he was doing it to make frivolous things for the rich.

Hence, the huge amount of backlash to an article Deezen ran about the piece. Among the highlights:

“It’s as if someone is selling houses with a pillar of the Acropolis in the living room. Such inconsiderate stupidity is just gobsmacking.” –Dean

“This angers me beyond words. Unfortunately it’s hard to submit a hatred-inspired interpretive dance to the Dezeen comments section.” –SteveLeo

“You people all need to get off your high horse. Since when does being a product designer mean you have to design for the masses and save the world? Maybe you should all get together and design a vegan yurt.” — MH

And, our personal favorite:

“Tea! Who drinks the stuff any more?”


newson_heroTo be fair, most wooly mammoths went extinct at least 10,000 years ago (with one tiny group surviving on Wrangel Island for considerably longer), so Newson use of mammoth ivory did not require any living creatures to be murdered. But critics felt that just using the material at all promotes it, and therefore encourages poachers to kill elephants.

Only ten of the tea sets are available, through the Danish silversmith brand Georg Jensen. Buy it — if you dare.

  • Peter Horn

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