With low-cost travel now commonplace, picking up a souvenir or two may be less important to travellers than it was in the past. One Italian journeyman, however, has taken the past time to heart in a surprising way.
Retired UN worker Edoardo Flores has collected 15,000 Do Not Disturb signs from hotels around the world.
His collection started when a colleague noticed an unusual Do Not Disturb sign he’d picked up in Pakistan and hung up in in his office. After his colleague recommended Flores collect the signs, he began accumulating them on his business travels and now has pieces from all over the world.
Speaking to The Independent, Flores’ explained how his collection grew.
“I didn’t have a collection in mind when I took a few signs as souvenirs from business trips,” he says, adding that he “took similar souvenirs” from hotels whenever he was travelling.
Flores began to ask friends and colleagues to pick up Do Not Disturb signs on his behalf and was eventually contacted by a German TV station wanting to feature him on a story about collectors.
Over the years, says Flores, the style and design of Do Not Disturb signs has changed, with those from the 1940s and 1950s having “mostly humorous designs on one side and lengthy instructions for their use on the other”.
Later years saw a shift to a “simple and to the point” style of design before a move towards “original graphic designs combined with unconventional messages.”
The most attractive signs, says Flores, come from Asian countries, where hotels employ “local artisans to produce unique wooden sculptures or with other materials,” while he also earmarked the UK as home to some of the more unusual signs, including “stuffed animals”.
One of the rarest signs in the collection comes from Domus Sanctae Marthae in Vatican City, a hotel for business people staying in the papal capital.
Flores has had pieces from his collection exhibited in Dubai and the Netherlands and would like to “find a place for a permanent exhibition”, which continues to grow year on year.
He says he has used the signs for their primary function on “many occasions” and always offers to buy more elaborate pieces before taking them.
While Flores’ collection may seem an oddity, its far from the strangest to be found around the world. He Peiqi of Chongqing, China, created a model of the city using thousands of coins, while Celine Cornet of Belgium has over 2,000 stuffed pandas in her home.
Meanwhile, Split in Croatia may be famous for Diocletian’s Palace and its scenic Riva Promenade, but is also home to Froggyland, one of the most unique museums in Europe.
An exhibition of stuffed frogs, it showcases the work of Ferenc Mere, an idiosyncratic taxidermist who depicted the amphibians in various human situations including a day at the swimming baths and a classroom.
Working during World War One, one of Mere’s dioramas even depicts a battlefield with wounded frogs.