Summer is just around the corner- and so is one of the biggest Interior Design shows of the year- Neocon.If I'm lucky enough to be able to afford it I might drive the 4 hours to Chicago to partake in the networking, new product premiers and chotchkies. I enjoy seeing the new products and materials rolled out by industry vendors and partners. It gives me a small taste of what my industry was before the bubble burst, and a feel for what it will be when the market recovers some.
One of the most exciting things is to see a lot of new products. Especially in an era where everything is "green" and re-used, re-purposed or up-cycled. But trends have a tendency to cycle back around.
Take for example Shagreen. For the non-industry readers- Shagreen is a leather type material created from the skin of Sharks. While this may seem disgusting to some- take a moment to consider regular leather, or even tiles make from crocodile skin. On an odd sidebar: I think that sentence explains the weird dreams I had last night- BUT back to the story! Shagreen use to be made from the hide on the back of horses or donkeys. Somewhere in the 1600's shagreen started to be made from shark skin or from the skin of sea rays.
Shagreen provides an interesting visual and tactile texture to products, as you can see from the cabinet above. The use of shagreen doesn't have to be for furniture, although that is one of my favorite ways to see it. Over the years it has been used for dagger hilts, jewelry and even shoes.
Although it is not something you normally think of using for jewelry- it is still something that is done. This bracelet, a beetle decked out in diamonds and sapphires sitting on grey shagreen can be purchased online for a an affordable $1450! The texture of the cuff alone shows the beauty of the material.
So why haven't you heard of Shagreen? And what does this have to do with Neocon? Well the answer to the first question is pretty simple- unless you're in the industry, deal with furniture, spent at least a year in furniture history classes, or just LOVE exotic materials- it's not something that is as common any more. And to answer the second question- trends. They cycle around and around. You may soon see a resurgence of shagreen, or a similar product.
Let me introduce you to: Fish Leather. A fellow designer recently posted about this company on her company blog- FurFin. Both the picture above and the bracelet are both made of Salmon Leather and offered by a company in Iceland Atlantic Leather. The textures, colors and options are amazing and make a designer excited about the possibilities!
Although I have my fingers crossed about being able to make it to the Mart this year for Neocon- I'm not going to count on it. I will however be searching for new products to use in all of my future projects. Just think of salmon leather, or a wolf-fish ottoman..