A few years ago we began experimenting with white lacquer from Japan. It provided a wonderful base for red lacquer giving it an extra vibrancy, lift and depth.
Then we asked ourselves what would happen if we applied white lacquer to shagreen (or stingray skin).
Alexander Lamonts new ivory shagreen laid out like paving stones.
Traditionally shagreen is used in its natural brown colour or it is dyed in different colours and then sanded back to reveal the whiteness of its enamel beads beneath. This contrast is what gives shagreen its beautiful and striking appearance. But when we applied white lacquer we found that the whole surface took on a paper whiteness that beautifully revealed the enamel beads as the darker element in the pale surface thus producing a feeling of ivory tones laid over ivory.
Our techniques for inlaying the shagreen onto surfaces also mark a departure from the traditional art deco and ancient methods. Instead of using squares or rectangles of shagreen with the back bone centred on each piece, we inlaid long and short strips in a grid pattern and avoided entirely the centre bead. The end result is like paving stones or marble . With this change in the geography of the shagreen the material changes radically in appearance becoming a unified ongoing and beautifully mottled surface. When you apply the white lacquer again it becomes something else altogether with a light almost ethereal presence.
We love playing with our materials in this way – stretching them in different directions and presenting them in ways that no one else has done before.
To complete the ivory over ivory finish white lacquer is applied onto the inlaid shagreen in 3 or 4 layers until it reaches the height of the natural enamel beads. Then it is sanded and rubbed back to a stunning, lustrous finish.
In our 2016 collection we present ivory over ivory finish on our Alexandria Coffee Table. The whiteness of the surface has just enough texture and tactile interest to contrast perfectly with the elegant bronze and brass structure beneath. This finish can be applied to any furniture including curved edges, and to wall panels too.
A polished brass frame and base create a subtle contrast to the ivory over ivory shagreen surface.