What is shagreen made from, and our approach at Objet Luxe29th June 2020
What is shagreen and what is shagreen made from? In this article, explore the deep, rich history of Shagreen and revel in the wonders of this unique material here with us, choosing from our specially curated collection. We also offer the option of developing your own bespoke gift – either as a gift for yourself or a luxury gift for someone else.
What is shagreen made from, and what’s the history of shagreen?
Also known as ‘Galuchat’, after the artisan trader or; ‘stingray’ after the fish which is the material’s source, Shagreen is truly exotic. It’s a richly textured, strong material which has been used for centuries as a decorative surface. Originally used for specialised, practical purposes, shagreen’s earliest application dates back to 13th century Japan. As the 16th century’s dominant naval force, Portuguese traders began to import Japanese shagreen furnishings for decorative purposes.
By the late 17th and early 18th century, Dutch and English craftsmen imported small amounts of raw shagreen hides. They would cover small decorative items (knife skins, boxes, microscopes and shaving kits), introducing dyes, most commonly applying the colour green.
The material became highly popularised in the mid 18th century, lead by one leading woman, Madame De Pompadour. A well known patron of the arts, she was also the mistress of King Louis XIV. A craftsman sold many shagreen covered items to her, his name was Jean-Claude Galuchat. For this reason, shagreen is still known in France as ‘Galuchat’.
In more modern history, the luxurious and exotic material has been most closely associated with the Art Deco period. Interior decorators like Jean Michel Frank and Clement Rousseau used stingray skins to decorate furniture, lighting and create incredible wall panelling.
Our approach to working with Shagreen at Objet Luxe
Colour is an important part of our design process and how we can link the new colour with natural tones and hues of the shells and mother of pearl we work with. The biggest challenge of working with shagreen is the limited size of the skins and the fact it’s not too thick. The scales of the skin get progressively larger at the centre of the skin, creating lustrous facets, culminating in one large scale, option called the jewel. When designing, the jewel is used as a focal point. See our products below:
Our Curated Collection
Zelda Box Shagreen Midnight
Influenced by the art deco period, our Claremont Oval Box has a luxurious exterior, with a plain rosewood interior that’s simple and smart. It’s available in two sizes and two colours; both are trimmed with Ebony. As a bespoke option, we can make this item in exotic shell too.
Claremont Oval Box Shagreen – Linen colour
Claremont Oval Box Shagreen – Lavender
The Heart Box is a true token of love for someone special. Made by hand, this trinket box has a plain rosewood interior and felt base.
The above product is also available here, in Pearl Oyster Shell.
Heart Box Shagreen Black
Heart Box Shagreen Red
Shagreen Photo Frames
Handcrafted with ebony edging, our Hepburn Photo Frame has a solid wood back and is covered in a luxurious faux suede. Simple, classic and can be used in either landscape or portrait. These frames are timeless and really would look wonderful anywhere!
Shagreen Trays & Shagreen Dishes
Polka Tray – Shagreen Grey
Handmade with grey shagreen and polka dots that are created from black lipped mother of pearl, black agate and abalone to name a few, our Polka Tray is truly unique. Finished in a skilfully edged ebony.
This item is also available in cream Pearl Oyster Shell, which you can browse here.Back to Explore