Shagreen is the stingray skin. Given its rarity and unique texture, it has been applied to give luxurious finish to intricate high-end decorative items. First used to make sword hilts and armour by the Japanese Samurai and the Turks in the Middle Ages, shagreen got its big break in the mid 18th century when it was popularised by Madame De Pompadour, a renowned patron of the arts and mistress to King Louis XIV. It later became fashionable as a material for furniture during the Art Deco period and remains at the pinnacle of luxury to this day.
Parchment is an exotic material usually made from calf skin, sheep skin or goat skin, used since the 2nd century B.C. Traditionally, parchment was used as a writing material for manuscripts before paper was invented.
Later, it became a popular material for covering pieces of art and furniture amongst Art Deco designers, especially Jean Michel Frank, who often used it in his work. It remains a unique hide which lends a nod to deco vocabulary in modern designs.
Durable yet flexible, bronze has a long history of applications in a wide variety of objects, from weapons and armour to vessels and musical instruments. As an artistic medium, bronze was extensively employed in sculptures by artists and artisans from India, China, Egypt and Greece since ancient times. In fact, some of the most famous contemporary bronze art works are attributed to the French sculptor, Auguste Rodin, who lived from 1840 to 1917. With its tractability that allows for great details and sophisticated artistry, the production of bronze art works has continued to the present, notably to exude nobility and luxury.
Gold leaf is commonly used for gilding. Egyptians in Alexandria were known as the first goldbeaters and gilders. It was later introduced in mosaics in early Christian arts and statues and icons in Buddhism. To this day, gold leaf is widely used for gilding ornamental designs on paper, wood, ceramics, glass, textiles and metal in decorative objects and furniture pieces.