A Classic Texture Makes a Comeback

Last month at High Point’s Fall Furniture Market, I was once again on a mission to find design trends. I found a few new and interesting trends, but my favorite this season is Shagreen. Have you ever heard of shagreen? If not, you will because, one you are reading this article : )  and two you will be seeing a resurgence of it in furniture and accessories this upcoming year. I saw it everywhere, in many different applications, covering lamps, dressers, console tables and small objects.

Many people think Shagreen is shark skin, but it is usually a stingray or a simulated animal hide. For the eco-friendly client, faux shagreen is also available. All shagreen has a somewhat rough, pitted or granular surface texture.

The French called it chagrin, and though used centuries before by the Pharaohs and in the Orient it became popularized in the court of Louis XV of France and amongst the French and English aristocracy mostly for small items like shoes, eyeglass cases and boxes. The most common and popular color for shagreen was, go figure, green, a beautiful deep sea-green color. Shagreen was also dyed in other colors such as blue, black, white and red. Furniture makers used it first as sandpaper, since it is rough in texture, and then as an inlay or covering. They noticed that once it was wrapped around the wood or metal base of an object, it would shrink tightly around it, and the shagreen would become extremely hard and durable.

Shagreen was also popular in the Art Deco era and it is once again hugely popular in interior design. You will start seeing many applications such as wallpaper, various large and small-scale tables, even sinks, you name it. It is a statement, it is unique, has a subtle texture, and it screams rich. Shagreen is sort of like fine chocolate… delicious and one piece is never enough.