Design classics: stylish in snakeskin

Design classics: stylish in snakeskin

Chief Editor of the design magazine “Arcade”, Heike Gessulat, introduces must-see product innovations, designers and companies in the Heimtextil Blog. She tackles the trends of Continental.

It is now 50 years since Continental, still under the name of Hornschuch at the time, released their snake, when the company exhibited its products at the first Heimtextil. Inspired by the python, this artificial leather was at first also called ‘skai L Pythana’, before it became a classic and has now been marketed for years under the name of ‘skai Aythana N’.

This natural-looking ‘snakeskin’ was used, in 2014, to cover large surfaces in the ‘Hard Rock Hotel’ in Ibiza, for instance. The secret of its success is the precise, filigree markings and the multi-coloured printing, which is so full of contrasts. They lend the high-quality material the living feel of the material’s exotic, real-life antecedent. Today, the design is one of the ‘Wild Animal’ designs in the collection.

Whilst both the exotic character of the material and the technology behind it have been retained, the raw materials and backing have changed and developed over time. So that the quality of the material has been subject to constant improvement and new areas of application have opened up. In the 1970s, it was mainly handbags, suitcases, purses and belts that were made from ‘skai’, as well as, to a lesser extent, shoes.

Today, it is overwhelmingly used for upholstered furniture and headboards. If the bag-making segment  has very little significance today, the importance of the interior furnishings sector, on the other hand, is huge. ‘Skai’ seems to be preordained for use in interior design, both in the home and in the commercial and contract sector, in retail and in the hospitality industry. For the modern woman in the 70s, it was all about elegance. And this meant that fine textures and softness were of particular importance.

Today, the range of demands is wider. From the beginning, high-end design and quality requirements were part of the product’s DNA; now it also includes additional qualities such as fire-resistance, light-fastness and abrasion-resistance. Continental is now pushing forward into a new dimension of personalisation with their ‘skai Design Lab’, that enables everyone to create their own individual look. And this can be seen in a live demonstration at Heimtextil’s jubilee show. Continental will be represented with two separate stands at the show: Hall 6.0, Stand B10 and Hall 10.1, Stand D65.

Header photo: With authentic colouring and texture, ‘skai Aythana N’ accurately reproduces the skin of a python. This snakeskin look is a classic feature of Continental’s portfolio and is available in 7 colour variations.


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