Decorating Dictionary - Define Shagreen

Decorating Dictionary: Shagreen

What is the definition of Shagreen?

Have you ever heard someone mention the term “shagreen” and wondered what on earth it meant? Well, now you have to wonder no longer – we will define shagreen for you! Here is the latest addition to our Decorating Dictionary

Shagreen: is a highly textured rawhide or leather originally obtained from the rumps of horses and onagers, and later, from the skins of sharks, stingrays and dogfish. Historically, this exotic skin was used to cover the sword hilts and bows of Japanese and Chinese civilisations past. Shagreen was popularized as a luxury decorative material in the 18th century by Jean-Claude Galluchat, a master leatherworker in the court of Louis XV of France. It quickly became the epitome of sophistication and style amongst the French aristocracy. The decorative use of shagreen saw a revival during the 1920s and 30s as it was often used in Art Deco furniture pieces – a popular interior style during this period. Today, the majority of shagreen products are made from faux/artificial materials.

[Image Sources: 1, 2, 3]


Define Art Deco | Decorating Dictionary via

Décor Dictionary: Art Deco

What is the definition of Art Deco?

Have you ever heard someone mention the term “Art Deco“ and wondered what on earth it meant? Well, now you have to wonder no longer – we will define Art Deco for you! Here is the latest addition to our Decorating Dictionary

This was a tough little cookie to define – hence the long definition! Art Deco was influenced by many design styles as the very late 1800s and the better half of the 1900s ushered in the golden period of design, namely Modernism. It also made a big stylistic impression on the styles that followed it – think Pop Art, Hollywood Glam, contemporary Eclectic design and maybe even a bit on popular Mid-Century Modern. The master of Art Deco design was renowned furniture and interior designer Émile-Jacques Ruhlmann

The very Art Deco Mutual Building in Cape Town, South Africa

I think, one of the finest examples of Art Deco architecture in South Africa is the beautiful Mutual Building in the centre of Cape Town. Next time you are in the CBD be sure to take a few minutes to admire it or check out all the gorgeous images: here

Traditional Art Deco interiors: On the left a drawing room interior by Ruhlmann circa 1934 and on the right an Art Deco lounge (source unknown)
Contemporary interiors with some Art Deco features. Notice the zebra skin on the left.

Art Deco:  is a highly decorative design style that originated in Paris in the early 1920s and flourished internationally, tapering off in popularity towards the 1940s. Considered to be a lavish, eclectic form of elegant and stylish Modernism, it was also said to be influenced by Cubism and Futurism and various other design styles. Art Deco design made use of symmetrical geometric shapes – faceted forms, trapezoidal, chevron patterns, ziggurat-shapes, sunburst motifs, and jumbled shapes – inspired by Greco-Roman, Egyptian, African and Aztec designs. Art Deco furniture frequently featured marquetry, inlay, enamelling and other techniques to create surface interest. The use of opulent, exotic woods and materials such as stingray and zebra skin was also evident. Vivid, bold colours were often used but later subdued into a white, black, and metallic colour palette that is often identified with Art Deco today. Furniture and interiors combined sleek curves with angular forms often reminiscent of simplified earlier decorative styles.

I think the Palm Court lounge in Shanghai (image on the left) is a gorgeous contemporary interpretation of Art Deco. Right is a bold black & white contemporary Art Deco room in the Hotel Borg, Iceland.
Images via:
1-3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9

Life In The City Bowl

Photo: “Cape Town Pano – Night” by Aquila on Flickr
Photo: Photonogrady on Flickr

By Rose McClement

At the beginning of this month we relocated our offices to the Cape Town City Bowl district – Gardens to be exact.  Oh wow – what have we been missing all this time in the “burbs”.

At one time it was the thing to work in the burbs – who wants to take on that traffic into town everyday.  Well being back here where the general vibe is electric and where there is just so much happening in terms of design of any kind – I am quite happy to take on the traffic.  Although don’t get me wrong – it is really taking a bit of getting used that traffic story. But as they say – make it work for you – take it on and make the most of the time in the car.  (Ok – I’ve yet to get totally creative around this, but I will!)

Because after having endured the traffic – I get into the Bowl district and I am inspired. (I can now fully understand the inspiration for SEX IN THE CITY).

Inspired by what – by the architectural design all around us – in all shapes and forms.

By the history to be found in that architectural design – taking the shape of Victorian houses, Art Deco buildings and apartment blocks of the 40’s and 50’s. And then of course the fab modern buildings.  And the PEOPLE – of course!

Tamboerskloof Victorian Architecture

And Oh – the absolute glut of such cool retail interior outlets – in the Gardens, in the City, in De Waterkant etc etc.

There is just so much here – so much to draw new and fresh inspiration from each and every day – something new that catches my eye.

“Hey look – have you seen this shop or that supplier or how about those cool restaurants, coffee shops and cafes”    Yada Yada Yada – I could go on and on. No wonder my friend Miranda cannot be budged from living around here.

So, bear with us, as we take you on REGULAR fresh excursion of what is happening in THE CITY…