Merging the 21st Century into a Gilded Age, Fortune 500 Boardroom
This article describes the replication and installation of embossed gilded leather in the Metlife boardroom in New York City, which was first decorated with leather in 1894. The paper was presented at the 9th North American Textile Conservation Conference in San Francisco in 2013.
15 Pages Posted: 5 Sep 2019
Date Written: 2013
Polychrome, gilded, and embossed leather was considered an attractive covering for decorative furnishings and walls in American Gilded Age mansions. These specialty European leathers originally crafted in the 17th and 18th century were either repurposed in the 19th century for the American market or, new versions of them were crafted following evolving 19th century technologies. By the 21st century, with a decreased demand for these decorative leathers, the craft traditions had become a forgotten art. The 2003 decision to replace 1,400 square feet of polychromed embossed leather in a gilded age boardroom presented an opportunity to visit the atelier to discuss and document the decorative finishing process. This presentation shares through a photo essay how one workshop has revived this traditional craft for the 21st century marketplace. Decorated leathers are produced using a combination of traditional techniques and contemporary materials. The presentation will also address how these leathers were prepared and mounted for long-term preservation needs using current materials and methods.
Keywords: leather, nineteenth century, interior design
JEL Classification: N61, N81
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation