Paolo Foglizzo has just emptied a huge suitcase full of leather samples onto the table. The variety is bewildering.

The pieces range from full-grain cow leather (bull skins are preferred, as the hides are bigger and less elastic) to suede and nabuk (similar in appearance, suede derives from the less valuable underside of the hide, while finer nabuk is from the top grain). There are exotic leathers such as eel, stingray (known as galuchat or shagreen) and salmon skin. The most expensive sample is of interlaced strips of parchment made from sheepskin that has been dried under tension (the equivalent material made from calfskin is called vellum). The woven wall panels created for a luxury apartment in Monte Carlo cost more than $5,000 per square yard.

The finishing processes are all done by hand using time-honored techniques and processes that highlight the natural qualities of leather.

The finishing processes are all done by hand using time-honored techniques and processes that highlight the natural qualities of leather.

There is something deeply evocative about leather. Like wood, it is a natural material with an enticing fragrance and a rich patina that improves with age. It has multiple practical applications and has been used over the centuries to denote wealth and status—qualities that make it a highly desirable material among yacht designers.





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