Detail of a Continental Shagreen Art Deco hand mirror in sea foam green and shell-like form.
Ever since the era of Egyptian pharaohs, shagreen—a type of leather made from the skin of sharks, stingrays, or dogfish—has been revered as a decorative material for its rarity, exoticism, and expression of wealth.
Shagreen has a rough embossed texture produced by cartilaginous nodules from the surface of the animal skin. Due to its abrasive texture, the material once held utilitarian purposes, providing a durable grip on the arms and armor of Japanese samurai in the Edo period and for book-binding in 17th-century Europe. By the 17th and 18th centuries, shagreen was used to embellish decorative objects for royalty by great artisans including Jean-Claude Galluchat (the French word for shagreen is galuchat,) whose patrons included Louis XV and his mistress, Madame de Pompadour.
Shagreen reached the height of its popularity in the 1920s, when leading Art Déco furniture makers and designers—such as Jacques-Emile Ruhlman, Jean-Michael Frank, and John Paul Cooper—showcased their artistic prowess with the juxtaposition of diverse materials and balance of vivid patterns.
Add a little exotic style to your own home by shopping our collection of beautiful shagreen.
1. Continental Art Deco Shagreen Hand Mirror | 2. Shagreen Set of Nesting Tables by Karl Springer
3. Pair of Shagreen French Deco Leather Club Chairs
4. Console Table in Ivory Shagreen with Macassar Ebony Wood Base
5. Black Shagreen Box with White Bone Trim