I think many still think of decorating with hides and bones as being very one-note. Very masculine. Very man-cave. But truly, introducing skins and, yes even bones can truly beautify and elevate a space. Sometimes the effect will even soften a space. Skins, rich in texture and colour, are an immediate sensual feast. While the natural curve of horns evokes the feminine.
Definitely Not the Man Cave
The wall mounted kudu skull and the ostrich clad cabinet above are decidedly not for the man cave. Using horns as a table top display, mounting skulls and creating oomph with ostrich clad furniture can work in any room. All you need is a love for the eclectic.
Embrace the Unusual
Think outside the cowhide carpet or the wall mounted skull when you’re decorating with these materials. A piece of furniture wrapped in cowhide will instantly add visual interest and a splash of texture without veering too far into a given design direction, brandishing you a cowgirl.
Same goes with something like this exquisite zebra framed mirror. You’re showing just enough skin to add interest.
While many people like to display horns mounted and upright, they make a striking vertical table top display, just loosely scattered. I just love the curve of these horns, the organic texture and colour. They are a versatile yet unexpected design piece.
sometimes it’s about the subtle touches. It’s the accessories that pull a space together and offer a touch of flare and the exotic. Including pieces like this ostrich clad box or zebra hide tray will dazzle and surprise your guests. Accessories are especially great for those a little faint of heart. They allow you to try a look without all the commitment.
Want to literally elevate a piece of blah furniture? Change out the legs! Have you noticed how the right set of legs help to define shape, highlight negative space and even echo an era in design? It’s true. The right legs can transform something clunky into a new piece that’s fresh, light and modern. When you’re buying your next piece of furniture or just DIY-ing a piece currently your collection, consider updating the legs. We love these light as air side tables that are defined by their see-through shape. Our nesting tables topped with marble are perfect for small spaces. They help give you a functional surface and display place, while still keeping things light and open. There’s a wonderful company in Sweden called Pretty Pegs that specializes in selling peg legs that instantly update your IKEA furniture. It’s such an inexpensive and fun way to create the look of an expensive and customized piece of furniture. Check them out! They ship worldwide! Oh these are special. Denise came across them in South Africa on a recent buying trip and we have not been able to hang on to them, they’ve all walked out the door with their happy new owners. Luckily more are arriving soon. These are sculptural, architectural. They’re fun but sophisticated. It’s not easy to find a piece of furniture that can embody all of that. And if you’re looking for something truly unique, try a piece of furniture built on a horn base. I love the curvy femininity of the cow horn side table and the kudu horn table. Really this is statement art as much as it is a table. We’ve been building a lot of custom pieces lately on these wooden stands. The strong and imposing shape of this ostrich clad buffet is perfectly juxtaposed by the light and open stand it sits on. And these babies can carry an awful lot of weight. Just check out this wardrobe we built. Standing a massive 7 feet it’s a sight to behold! What’s your favourite shape for the legs of your furniture? Do you like to keep your lines strong and modern or a little fun? Isn’t cool how just changing the legs can also evoke a completely new era of design? Take for example the peg legs which add that mid-century modern air to just about anything.
Ever see gorgeous African textiles in design magazines and wonder what, where, how? Textile design is a true art form across the continent of Africa, and many designs are specific, not just to a region, but to a particular tribe or family. Some designs are like a coat of arms. Today we present a 101 on some of the designs that have made it into North American interiors. Mud Cloth from Mali Mud cloth (bogolanfini, or bogolan) is a culturally important tradition in Mali dating back to the 12th century. Cotton fabrics are traditionally dyed using fermented clays and muds, that give the cloth the rich dark colours and patterns. Historically, the cotton fabrics are weaved by men, while the intricate patterning created in the dyeing process is done by women. Mud cloth is enjoying its moment in the sun right now, where these textiles are being incorporated into high end interior design and fashion. Mud cloth is made by bathing the cotton in a yellow solution made from mashed and boiled leaves of the n’gallama tree. Left in the sun to dry, clay and mud is then applied as a painted layer to create the beautiful motifs. There are many artisans who continue to create these textiles using time-honoured techniques, but some modern makers have come up with new processes that speed up their creation. Kuba Textiles Kuba cloths are generally rectangular or square pieces of woven raffia that are embellished with embroidered geometric patterns. Originating from the DRC (formerly Zaire), these textiles have been intricately made by hand. Once the raffia fabric is woven, typically by men, women hand embroider the geometric patterns by sewing in the desired pattern with raffia thread, stitch by stitch, clipping or cutting each thread. This makes the embroidery process painstakingly long, but the final effect are patterned pieces that resemble velvet in texture. The pattern and repetition you see in Kuba cloth tell stories. Mathematicians have long been intrigued by the elaborate use of patterning in traditional Kuba cloths and marvel at how they also seem to represent the traditional music and song of the Kuba people, which you see in off-beat phrasing that seems to interrupt an expected pattern. Just think, that’s not simply art on your wall, or headboard at your bed, but hidden within that pattern is a myth, a song, a story. Kente Cloth Created by the Asanti people of Ghana and the Cote d’Ivoire, Kente cloth derives its name from kenten, for basket, because its woven look is so similar. The fabric itself is woven using specialized looms to create the brightly coloured and intricate patterns of the final product. Every colour used in Kente cloth carries a meaning, so that each finished piece of textile tells its own story. For instance:
- White: denotes purity, peace, innocence and spirituality
- Yellow: represents gold and signifies royalty, wealth and fertility
- Black: is the symbol for bereavement and darkness, but also for secrecy and mystery
- Blue: represents wisdom, humility, harmony and love. It’s the symbol for big spaces like the sun and ocean.
- Green: denotes life, growth, and youth
- Brown: is the colour of mother earth, and represents healing
- Pink: is associated with femininity, tenderness, calmness and the essence of life.
Various colour combinations also carry different meanings. Some weaving patterns represent entire tribes and families. The richness of these textiles, the stories and cultural narratives they hold make each one uniquely special. These should never be treated just as home trends, but understood in their context of history, geography and culture. I love these cloths and textiles. I’ve never seen any like them and so enjoy these voices in the spaces I live and work.
So how amazing are these beauties? Strong, sculptural, elegant. Their presence commands attention. They’re also as old as several hundred years. While the title of this post might give it away, would you have guessed without this clue that these artifacts were used as currency across Africa once? We’ve been so very lucky to source these genuine artifacts. These were traded once upon a time, especially among agricultural communities in Africa.
Each piece is detailed metalwork created by blacksmiths who hand-forged currency from iron. This makes each one unique. Hardly today’s pocket change, wealth was often proudly displayed in the home when not used for active trading. We’ve been riffing on this idea, by using currency artifacts in creative ways. One of my favourite ways to display the currency as unique door handles on furniture. There’s no way you’re getting a more one-of-a-kind piece than these!
This is a mirrored-topped bar, clad in ostrich skin. We’ve cut a piece of currency in two to create the handles. This gorgeous and sophisticated piece has been hand-bronzed! We used stately over-sized currency as the closures here to balance the dark form from the open white shelves. The currency handles really is
the touch that makes the piece exciting and modern. If you’re not after a custom piece of furniture, you can always display these African currency pieces on table tops or frame them for your wall. You’ll note that some of these currency designs include European influences, an effect of colonisation. It’s so interesting – and I’d argue important – to have pieces with such strong histories and narratives in our home. It reminds us of distant places and times, of personal and collective stories, conflicts and triumphs. For this reason, I especially love these artifacts.
There’s no question, we love the ostrich here at Snob. Where I come from in South Africa, they are a ubiquitous animal, often times causing a lot of mischief. But their gifts are also plentiful. From eggs and shell pieces to leather and feathers, we use it all. Add our designer’s eye and some ingenuity and you’ll be amazed at what we can create with the many gifts from the ostrich. For starters, a single ostrich egg can feed a family of 9, making them an essential food source in many parts of Africa. We celebrate this odd bird, by using just about every part of it, for food and for ornament. I particularly like how the ostrich egg shells look mounted on a stand. They are at once strong and delicate, and their perfect oval shape adds wonderful dimension, especially among modern interiors with their strong lines. We also specialize in creating fabulous custom-made ostrich hide furniture and home accessories. There’s nothing quite like the leather grain of ostrich legs: there’s sumptuous texture there that makes you want to reach out and touch it. And with more than 50 shades of dye, you can go bold or neutral with your choice. This barely there console is silver-leafed by hand and topped with a tangerine clad ostrich hide. Gorgeous! This bright cherry red mirror is sure to perfectly frame your pretty form. How can this colour not put a smile on your face and some pep in your step?
Via Delysia Style
And because we were serious about revering this bird, we also celebrate the ostrich by using their gorgeous long plumes in home decor pieces. The hanging pendant is a fun way to add texture and femininity to a space.
Shop the pendant here
And of course, throw pillows are another great way to add texture, colour and fun to your seated areas and beds. These just invite guests to get comfy, perhaps even a little too comfortable…
Ready to shop?
Want to make something totally unique? Choose a base, then your colour choice, give us your dimensions and we’ll build something as gorgeous and unique as you!
Via South Shore Decorating
Here at Snob it’s no secret we aren’t afraid to use hides and skins in our interiors. They are a fabulous way to add character, luxe texture, pattern and colour. They also celebrate the animal and tie us to the natural world in an unshakeable way. I think that reminder is important. And while hides and skins aren’t for everyone, you can rest assured that we only carry ethically sourced and CITES-approved (Convention of International Trade of Endangered Species) pieces.
Via My Domaine
Cowhide, once only for rustic cabins and man-caves, has become downright ubiquitous in modern homes. But you need to have discerning eye to use it properly. It absolutely can be a point of high glamour in a space and to pull this off, I recommend staying clear of the cowhide rug in favour of a furniture element. I love the cowhide chairs in this room, they elevate the space. The polished metal legs give the room the right amount of sparkle, accented beautifully by the occasional table nestled between. The seating is sumptuous and invites you to just melt into the chairs. We specialize in custom cowhide furniture. Just choose your base and finish type and your hide and we take care of the rest. Check out our cowhide line here, the X-Stool is one of my favourite Big Drama Little Footprint pieces.
The ostrich deserves a post all on its own and it will soon get one, I promise. The unique look of the skin of the legs adds a new dimension of texture to your furniture and home accessories. There’s simply nothing quite like it, especially dyed in a bold colour. We make ostrich clad furniture and accessories in more than 50 shades. Now that’s how you make a statement. This console/cabinet above has a mirrored top and the door handles are actually African Currency artifacts, just to make it absolutely one-of-a-kind. Check out our full collection here.
Shop our ostrich clad box here.
Zebra hide is also becoming more prominent in North American interiors. Do a Pinterest search and prepare for a headache of stripe overload (don’t say I didn’t warn you!). While black and white is absolutely a modern and glamorous palette, just remember that less is most certainly more. The bold black and white zebra works best in spaces that aren’t terribly busy. Again, like with cowhide, consider thinking outside of that rug box and use zebra hide in smaller accessories like a throw pillow or a tray. If it’s a statement you’re looking to make, try upholstering a small piece of furniture like we did with this gorgeous ottoman. It will more than liven up your space. See all we do with zebra here.
Via Mimosa Lane
Snakeskin is another skin that many equate with luxury, but like zebra it’s easy to veer off into tacky territory. Because snakeskin brings texture, pattern and colour to a space, be sure to consider all the design elements of a room before you go wild. In the right room, with the right balance, it can be absolutely exquisite. How about you? Do you follow your animal instincts when it comes to design?
Pierre Cronje is a man I’ve long admired. A master craftsman, he’s made a name for himself not only in his home of South Africa, but internationally too as a skilled furniture maker and woodworker. With pieces in some of the world’s most famous interiors, I’m honoured to have carried some Pierre Cronje tables and chairs myself here at Snob.
The French and Ebony dining tables we have carried at Snob
Employing more than 140 artisans today, his fiercely original line of furniture is striking. Just look at some of these gorgeous pieces: Passionate about his land and its history, many Cronje pieces are based on 18th century designs of Cape Dutch Settlers. In fact Cronje started his business three decades ago as a furniture restorer. As demand for fine quality, handmade solid wood furniture grew, so did his business. Now with 140 artisans who have each apprenticed for two years to perfect their skills, the brand has a large and dedicated following. However, the line will never grow to the point of mass-production, on this Pierre Cronje is clear. Today Cronje specializes in custom work, adapting his range of more than 200 pieces to the specifications of his clients, be that sizing to a particular space, or building in of special functionality. He also creates bespoke pieces for his most exclusive clients. Many of these one-of-a-kind treasures have sculptural qualities and showcase master-craft skill in impeccably fine detail. One thing is certain: all Pierre Cronje furniture are the heirlooms of tomorrow.
The Bloukrans Dining Table
Cronje’s educational background is in civil engineering and computer science. But his heart lies in both national history and art. His engineering background means that he brings a unique aesthetic and clean lines to the range of modern furniture he has also created. Take for example the Bloukrans Dining Table which was inspired by his time working on the famous South African Bloukrans Bridge. All the hardwoods used in the building of his pieces are sourced from sustainable forests or are certified reclaimed. Cronje celebrates the tree from which the wood comes, even handcrafting the square wooden dowels and butterfly joints, so that these utility pieces heighten and beautify the designs. What do you think of these? Do you have a favourite?
If you’re a bather like I am, it’s difficult to figure out where to place all your spa essentials within reach when you’re in a modern freestanding soaker tub. I am not a fan of the bridge, you know that shelf that perches between the sides of your tub. So what’s a gal to do? We recently had a client with this very issue. She had just moved into a new home, complete with a beautiful modern bath with a centre-piece soaker tub. The bathroom also happened to come with two extra tiles. The previous owners had left behind two marble tiles that they had used as the bathroom’s flooring. She came into Snob one day with the tiles in tow, hoping we’d somehow fashion a storage solution out of these extras. In case you didn’t know, we offer fabulous custom pieces at Snob and I was certainly up to the challenge. I measured the tiles, we chatted about her needs, the overall look of the bathroom and in the end I came up with the idea for two beautiful stainless steel side tables topped in her marble tiles. These would be perfect for displaying a few special pieces and also keeping lotions and potions at hand. For those of you design enthusiasts who like details, here’s what we did:
After measuring the tile, we built a custom table base in stainless steel. Before installing the marble top, we cut a wooden support for the table frame.
And here is our end product.
Et voila! In the client’s home!
Solving problems with bespoke solutions! Feel free to contact us with your design dilemmas. We love tackling projects big and small with one-of-a-kind solutions.