Financial Times

Posted by Annie Genovese on

Forsyth’s chic animal hides

Sustainably sourced zebra and cowhides are a mere click away


JUNE 11 2015 


Home furnishings fashioned from zebra and cowhide – from a phenomenal 3m x 2.5m six-zebra-skin carpet ($22,500) to discreetly neutral cushions – are the specialty of Forsyth, a crisply presented e-shop with sustainable clout.


The zebra luxuries use hide from the Burchell’s subspecies, which roams the southeast African savannahs and is named after the celebrated British naturalist and African explorer William John Burchell. Scroll through pouffe ottomans ($950) and skins made into mirror frames (from $3,495), as well as vast hides framed as artworks in their own right ($9,800). This midwestern company works with sustainable game ranches that manage zebra populations, and imported skins have been given the green light by US Customs and the US Department of Fish and Wildlife.


The Brazilian cowhides are magnificent, produced by a tannery that is expert in maintaining the hairs’ natural softness and creating carpets to withstand heavy wear. The hides’ natural oils resist most stains, making them gloriously low maintenance: a simple shake or vacuum should keep them clean, or use soapy water and a soft brush for any spillages. Understated cushions ($495) in a spectrum of shades, spanning champagne to dark brown, dappled greys and palomino, are stuffed with goose down, while standouts from the selection of rugs (from $595) are bright white and striking Hereford patterns. Forsyth takes custom orders for all of its ranges.


The latest additions to the site are a handsome collection of one-off vintage pieces with hide finishes, which currently include a 19th-century fruitwood and rosewood settee ($8,800) upholstered in zebra and finished with brass nail heads; a bold 1950s mahogany and brass bench ($4,400) found at auction and reupholstered in a black-and-white skin; and a pair of midcentury modern lounge chairs ($6,900) restored with chrome and wood frames and cowhide.


Click through the site’s gallery of ultra-chic living spaces for further proof that these timeless pieces belong to the art of modish interior design – minimal, Moroccan and art deco alike.




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