hagreen has been used for centuries by upscale furniture makers for luxury items. However, currently there has been a boom of FAUX shagreen items produced by the furniture and home décor industry making it more accessible and affordable. As a designer always looking for beautiful and unique items for my client's homes, I'm loving faux shagreen which can be used in so many creative ways in the home!
You may have seen faux shagreen items recently and wondered, what exactly is that? Well, I’m going to share the scoop with you and let you know why I love to use these interesting, exotic looking items in my designs.
Real shagreen is actually made from the skin of a ray fish, stingray, or shark. It has an wonderful, smooth but pebbly texture and is very durable. It’s use has been traced as far back to the ancient Egyptians where shagreen items were discovered in the pharaoh’s tombs.
In the middle ages, the Japanese used it to adorn sword handles due to it's good gripping texture. However, shagreen's popularity grew in the 1700’s where it was widely used to cover luggage, trunks, books, and boxes that got heavy use.
In the 1960’s, design icons such as Karl Springer brought it to the forefront of fashion by using it to cover everything from tables, to chairs, to mirror frames and much more.
As you can imagine, the process for creating items with real shagreen from ray fish or shark skin is extremely labor intensive and expensive. And, although it’s very durable, over time, it tends to dry out and crack with no remedy for repair. So before the invention of faux shagreen, the real thing was basically reserved for aristocrats and the very wealthy. With the environmental movement in full force, the sourcing for real shagreen is now being frowned upon, furthering the need for an alternative.
Enter our now ever popular and readily available faux shagreen! Faux shagreen is a vinyl material which is the fraction of the cost of the real thing and even more durable! I’ve seen so many great faux shagreen finishes, where I could never tell the difference. There are some out there that are not quite up to snuff though, so seeing items in person or getting a finish sample before purchasing a large piece is always a wise idea.
Try adding a faux shagreen table to your furniture mix, or a grouping of faux shagreen picture frames on your console looks great. You can find everything from trays, to boxes, to bookshelves wrapped in this great looking, hard wearing material. It’s even made into unique, textured wallpapers and easy to find in any color. Recreating this exotic look in your home has never been easier today and I highly recommend it!