If you have ever seen a raw piece of shagreen, it’s not easy to imagine the transformation the skin endures to result in the rich, deeply detailed covering that has become a signature material of Alexander Lamont. One man who definitely knows the hard work that is involved is Khun Chatree Cobua, Production Head of Shagreen and Parchment at our Bangkok-based workshop.
Piles of raw shagreen.
Khun Chatree remembers well when there were only 5 employees at the entire company (there are now over 60 artisans) and it was he who worked alongside Alex and experimented, learned, developed, created and crafted the first pieces of shagreen furniture that carried the Alexander Lamont name. That was 14 years ago. Being the longest serving employee, Khun Chatree is like a father figure to the team of 4 under his leadership, taking them under his wing and passing on his knowledge and dedication to the craft.
At work on the shagreen and cast bronze top and base, River Ledge credenza.
Thailand has a rich tradition of craftsmanship but working with shagreen and parchment is not in the Thai repertoire. It must be taught from scratch and practiced tirelessly to achieve the level of quality Alexander Lamont seeks. Khun Chatree arrived at Lamont with a background in factory-made-furniture and through sheer dedication and many years of hard work, has become the in-house expert on animal skins. Khun Chatree shares that it’s this deep connection with the material and with the company that gives him the greatest pride and satisfaction with his work.
When asked which material he prefers working with, parchment or shagreen, it’s like asking him to choose his favorite child. He smiles and replies that he cannot. They are so different and each has such unique qualities, he loves them both. He does share, however, that one of his favorite pieces he has worked on over the years was a Jean Michel Frank inspired shagreen console. The way the tiny beads of the skin’s enamel shown in the light and the depth created by the varying shagreen tones, after the final polishing - it was so much more stunning than he could have imagined.
Working with the parchment team.
Admiring a finished Facet console.
Leading by example seems to come naturally for Khun Chatree. When discussing what makes a good artisan, he instinctively replies a love for one's job, patience, a relaxed manner and to take great pride in one's work. It’s like a nice honest look in a shagreen framed mirror.