colors and finishes

Stingray skins are covered with a protective layer of tiny round enamel "beads".  These beads get larger towards the center of the back, finishing in an "eye" that gives focus to each skin.  It is this extraordinary back and its' distinctive eye that is used for decorative purposes.  The stingray is fished throughout Southeast Asia for food.  The difficulty in preserving the stingray's skin after being caught prevents a large proportion of the skins from being utilized.  The stingray is not endangered and is not restricted in any manner by the CITES treaties. Rather, it is one of the few fish that has a mesmerizingly beautiful and preservable skin.

Since Japanese feudal times, stingray skin has been recognized for its durability. It is not certain how the first skins arrived in Europe. However, the English used them during the 17th and 18th centuries as decorative applications to small technical metal implements such as medical kits, microscopes and telescopes. The French royal courts also applied skins to eyeglass cases, sword handles and household accessories. The skins were largely dyed green and then polished with black lacquer.  It was at this time that the skin became referred to as "shagreen" when used as a veneer.  In the inter-war period, during unprecedented levels of wealth in Europe, fashionable Parisian furniture makers began to use the skin on their Art Deco furniture.  The skin was often referred to as "Galuchat', named after an early French designer who extensively used the material.  The skins were used as elements of marquetry or sometimes as veneer for entire areas on tables and cabinets.  Rhulmann, Jean-Michel Frank, Clement Rousseau among others, used this rare and sophisticated material on their furniture.

The Walker Zabriskie Shagreen Collection uses full skins to veneer our modern collection.  The natural variation in skin color and thickness gives rise to natural variations during the dyeing process.  Shagreen is a highly labor intensive material and is often described as the most luxurious material amongst furniture aficionados.  Our furniture is made using the skills of the past and with a design aesthetic that dovetails beautifully with our wider collection of furniture.


Like leather, shagreen is simultaneously strong and delicate.  It is very sensitive to water. Do not use water or a moist cloth to clean it.  Refrain from using household cleaners such as Pledge or Windex.  There is no waxing or other maintenance necessary.  Over time you may notice separation between the skins, which occurs due to normal temperature, humidity, and seasonal changes.  This is a natural material that will change with time, but will continue to be magnificent as it gracefully ages.

11 side coffee console pedestal dining desk
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