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Shagreen TV cabinet

A commission by a New York City design firm for a large television cabinet covered in shagreen provided many challenges along the way to creating a one-of-a kind piece.

Sabanci AV cabinet 007



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Shagreen is a leathery stingray skin popularized in 18th century Europe.  The scaly surface of the skins are ground down to a smooth surface with rounded protrusions.  A hump from the back of the stingray appears prominently on each piece.  The skins are then dyed green from the back with the color showing through the front surface.  The large size of the cabinet required 178 skins to cover.  These were imported from a stringray farm in Thailand.  Clearing the importation of animal skins trough US customs provided some additional difficulties not usually encountered in the woodshop.  The whole process of material selection to arrival in the shop took several months.


photo 5In order to keep the project moving in a timely manner, the remaining portions of the cabinet were fabricated while we awaited the arrival of the shagreen.  Indiviual cabinet boxes were crafted for each opening.  Curved forms were required for the corner units.  The small boxes were assembled into large units that could be transported to the site for final assembly.  Logistics continued to play in as all pieces needed to be able to fit in an elevator to reach the final location in a Manhattan skyscraper.



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All the boxes were fitted together with hidden fasteners and finished panels attached to all outside surfaces.  The design called for the entire front surface of the cabinet to be covered in bronze and flush with the cabinet boxes on all aspects.  This required some very precise construction and fastening of the boxes.  An MDF template was then made on our CNC router of the entire front surface to ensure that everything lined up perfectly.



Sabanci AV cabinet 009


An electronic copy of this pattern was sent out to a metal machine shop for cutting the bronze out of 1/8 inch solid sheets.  The bronze was then thoroughly sanded and polished before having a patina applied.  The doors on the lower portion of the cabinet have square ventilation cutouts for cooling of the A/V equipment.  Each cutout has an individually milled bronze insert for a total of 243 inserts.




The main part of the cabinet was completed while still awaiting the arrival of the shagreen.  To facilitate A/V wiring of the unit, immediate installation of the cabinet was required.  Accomodations were made for the shagreen to be applied onsite and progress continued.  Upon receipt of the shagreen, it was cut and applied to panels that could then be affixed to the main body of the cabinet.


Once completed the unit looks stunning in its location overlooking Central Park.

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Luminous Resin Panels from 3Form

For a renovation project at American Flatbread in Middlebury, we used 3Form panels with LED lights on the soffit over the bar, the lights suspended over the bar area and the host station.


The soffit mimics steel framework located nearby and features backlit 3Form light diffusing panels.
3Form light diffusing panels were used on the soffit and suspended lights


3Form manufactures translucent resin panels for constructing walls, dividers, sliding doors, and other architectural features. Their product contains 40% recycled materials and can be highly customized to encapsulate color, organic materials, sheer textiles and embossed textures.


3Form inserts for suspended lights
Colored 3Form panels for suspended lights


In the factory, located in Salt Lake City, UT, the manufacturer sandwiches layers of materials to achieve the desired colors and luminosity. When delivered, 3Form panels are rigid like Plexiglas and can be dimensioned with a table saw or CNC machine.


The opaque diffusing panels are backlit with LED strip lights.
The 3Form diffusing panels were cut to fit into frames made of Valchromat..



Valchromat fixtures with LED strip lights
Valchromat fixtures showing LED strip lights



New host station with backlit 3Form panel in front.
New host station with backlit 3Form panel.


3Form offers a number of different types of light diffusion panels that can be incorporated in the layering of color, texture, graphics or pretty much whatever you can imagine.  

Creative Uses for Valchromat

Suspended lights made of Valchromat
Suspended lights made from Valchromat


A recent project for American Flatbread in Middlebury, Vt., gave us the opportunity to use Valchromat in some new and interesting ways. This composite wood product from Portugal is made from FSC-certified wood waste, blended with specially formulated resins and organic dyes.


Valchromat has some appealing advantages over similar products. It is moisture and UV resistant, non-toxic and 30% stronger than standard MDF. Vachromat is available in 10 standard colors and all can take a variety of finishes, including oil, wax, lacquers, varnish and paint.


Valchromat being cut on our CNC machine.
Valchromat being cut on our CNC machine.


At American Flatbread, we used Valchromat for the framework of a number of custom light fixtures as well as barn sash, host station, service area cabinets, back bar cabinets and bar face. Most of the wood surfaces in the dining room and bar area are either recycled barn board or locally sourced hardwood. The Valchromat introduced a splash of color that’s playful and contemporary.


Valchromat barn sash, framing on front panels of bar, and rectangular light fixtures.
Valchromat was used for barn sash, framing barn board panels around the bar, and rectangular light fixtures.


We have also used Valchromat for kitchen cabinetry, vanities and custom furniture. When used on its own, the finished products have clean lines and a contemporary look. Valchromat is also very attractive when combined with the color and grain patterns of natural wood.



Storage cabinet with Valchromat face
Storage cabinet with Valchromat face