Shagreen is the untanned skin from shark or stingray. It displays an unusually rough and granular surface, providing a tactile and visually interesting element to furniture. It has initially been used for centuries in Asia to cover swords’ hilts or composite bows’ grips. Jean-Claude Galluchat, a master leatherworker in the court of Louis XV, first popularized this material in Europe.

There was a definite resurgence in items being made with the skins of marine animals during the 1920s and 1930s. The lean hard finish and traditional pale green tone lent itself very well to the modernist lines of the Art Deco style. French designers such as Jacques Adnet , Marcel Coard, Jean-Michel Frank, André Groult, Paul Iribe or Clément Rousseau created somptuous pieces of funiture or lighting covered with shagreen. 

Skilled craftsmen use the material to cover contemporary items such as luxury luggage, toilet cases, rare books as well as larger pieces of furniture. Its use can add a touch of sophistication and exoticism to furniture. Overall, shagreen-covered furniture remains a symbol of opulence and craftsmanship, appreciated for its unique texture and the visual interest it brings to interior design.

For ethical options, we can use now alternative materials that mimic its texture and appearance.

›  See also inspiring shagreen furniture on our Pinterest page