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Our Story

Welcome to Forwood Design. We are pleased to invite you to ‘come in’ and browse through our web site full of luxurious, classic and contemporary designs by Henry Forwood. An English designer, Henry has spent the last 20 years developing and manufacturing designs for clients world wide. A country boy at heart, nature has an enormous impact on all of Henry’s designs, whether creating beautiful designer shagreen or that perfect tray handle inspired from a twig found in the jungle. Henry is hands on from the initial creative design concept through manufacturing to end product. We are pleased to introduce his exclusive collection in the UK. We hope you enjoy browsing through our adventures as much as we enjoy sharing them.

A BRIEF HISTORY OF SHAGREEN

Shagreen is the name given to cured stingray skin. It is a durable leather with one side covered with round calcified papillae called placoid scales. It is because of these scales that shagreen has been used through history because when unpolished its roughness makes it easy to grip.

In Japan shagreen was used as a covering of sword hilts from the early 13th century. In China it was used in the construction of bows.

In Europe shagreen became fashionable in the 17th & 18th centuries initially being imported from Asia again sword handles were one of the main uses. In the mid 18th century a Parisian tanner developed the curing techniques to process the leather. His name was Jean Claude Galluchat (galuchat is now the French word for shagreen). Madame de Pompadour, the mistress of Louis XV was apparently a regular patron of his and shagreen was one of her favorite materials so shagreen became a luxury court material used on such objects as sword handles, sheathes, snuff boxes & wig cases.

Shagreen became fashionable again in England when John Paul Cooper, an Arts and Crafts jewellery designer/craftsman who specialized in different unusual materials, began to us it for clock cases, boxes, mirrors and glasses cases and it is at this point it became used in small furniture. His son Francis Cooper continued in his fathers footsteps also using shagreen to produce beautiful luxury boxes and accessories. Shagreen became very popular during the Art Deco period before the war but stopped during the war due to lack of demand and skilled labour. Its popularity took another turn in the 1970’s when there was a revival of interest in the Art Deco period.

Shagreen is still used today for luxury furniture and home accessory items, but there are now eco alternatives that are not so destructive to nature. At Forwood Design, we use faux shagreen which we make from resins. After many years of perfecting our manufacturing methods, our resin molds are so fine and detailed that it is almost impossible to tell the difference between our shagreen and the real thing.