Leather can be made from a wide range of different types of animals. Exotic hides, skins and furs have long been a sign of wealth. The more exotic or rarer the more “prized” or “luxurious” the piece is deemed to be. Exotics have become more and more of a touchy subject as often the most sought after real hides or animal skins come from endangered species. Ostrich, Crocodile, Stingray, and Zebra are some of the most popular and classic animal hides or prints used in Interior Design.
There is still a strong market for real hides and most likely there will always be one. That said there are far more faux or embossed alternatives on the market today that offer designers with not only more socially and environmentally conscious options, but offer you a greater range of flexibility with regards to use and cost.One of the biggest dilemmas faced by people looking to use real exotics is not knowing the practices used with regards to harvesting the hides. Exotics such as Ostrich and Crocodile are farmed in the same way as other domesticated animals now and the entire animal is used. With other exotics such as Stingray(Shagreen) there are no sustainable fisheries and the countries that these fish are harvested in are decimating local fisheries in order to meet global demand. There are a number of wild game animals that certain companies are given licences to cull animals in reserves, but unless you do your homework you won’t know if that is for sure where your Zebra hide has come from.
Even with hides like Ostrich and Croc that are farmed animals there are lots of benefits to using embossed leather than the real thing. Most Exotic hides are very costly and they are often very limited with regards to how much of the hide you can use. Ostrich hides for instance are on average 13-17sqft in size and out of that only the center part of the hide has the textured surface people are looking to use. So out of a single Ostrich hide you might only get 6sqft of the hide that has the quilled texture. With all exotics yield is often a major factor. The other factor with real exotics is the price, a real Croc hide could run you $1500 and an Ostrich Hide can run $40-50/sqft.
Embossed leather is made from cow hides. Most of them are made on half hides but some patterns that are easy to repeat can be made on full hides. So with an embossed Ostrich you can find full hides that are 40-50sqft in size and the pattern is consistent across the entire hide. Even more intricate patterns that are only available in half hides offer you much greater cutting yields and make it far easier to cover larger surfaces. Not only that embossed leather will often cost more than half that of the real thing.
Embossed hides aren’t limited to traditional animal patterns anymore. You can find embossed leather in all different types of patterns and styles. It is even possible to create your own custom patterns and designs. It is always good to remember that in most cases with embossed leather that less tends to be more. You need to be aware of the pattern and how it will look large scale. Embossed leather can really make a statement when used in a room as an accent piece or a focal point.