For those of you who’ve been following my blog, you probably remember my recent post about the revitalized trend of Art Deco, and its luxe yet modern style. During my last trip to Paris, I encountered several beautiful examples of Shagreen on my treasure-hunting trip to the Flea Markets. Shagreen was popular among the French Aristocracy from the 17th-18th century, during the 1920s Art Deco period, and is currently making a comeback as a unique textured leather!
An Art Deco desk inlaid with shagreen.
Chair by Clement Rousseau 1921
What IS Shagreen? The original name is derived from the french word chagrin, which means annoyance, vexation, or embarrassment! This is because the finish is rough and textured. The skin comes from stingrays and sharks, which are very bumpy surfaces that are sanded down and can be dyed to a preferred color. The French leatherworkers sometimes also made Shagreen from horse hide, where they would press seeds and pebbles into untreated skin and create the bumpy texture through impressions. Shagreen was originally made for sword hilts and scabbards to help create a better grip. However, the unique look became popular as a decorative inlay or overlay for luxury goods. No surprise there!
Now that Shagreen is becoming more popular, you can find even more furniture and accessories with shagreen details- my iPhone case is a Pink Shagreen, even! There are several faux shagreens on the market that are pretty close to the real thing.