Pillows can be a surprisingly difficult part of an interior design project. There are numerous questions that go into the design, such as:
- How big they should be?
- What colors/materials should be used?
- How soft/firm the pillows should be?
- What shape should they should be?
The answers to these questions may change depending on other aspects of your interior design. For example, you’d probably want to use smaller throw pillows for a couch, and larger, softer pillows for a bed.
Whether the pillows you make for your interior design are meant to be purely decorative or are for practical use, there are a few kinds of exotic skins that stand out as top-quality pillows. Some of the best skins to use for pillows include:
- Haircalf Hide.
- Shearling/Hair Sheep Hide.
- Springbok Hide.
These hides combine the perfect blend of softness, size, ease of cleaning, and durability for a variety of pillow projects.
About Haircalf Hide
Haircalf hide is known by another name in the fashion industry: pony hair—even though the hide does not come from a horse. The major difference between haircalf and regular leather is that haircalf skin has hair—albeit cut short. This makes haircalf skin similar to materials such as suede which have a softer feel and more texture compared to regular cow leather.
Haircalf is frequently bleached and dyed to achieve bold colors or to help it blend in with the surrounding décor. The average haircalf hide carried by Pan American Leathers is approximately 6.5 square feet in size, with a thickness of 0.8-1.0 mm.
However, since many of these skins come from farm-raised animals, it’s usually very easy to find high-quality, grade I skins, ideal for the large panels on pillows.
Shearling and Hair Sheep Hide
Shearling and hair sheep hide fall under the category of hair-on hides as well. Specifically, these hides come from sheep, with the sheep’s characteristic thick, soft wool being left on the hide.
One thing to keep in mind is that the difference between hair sheep hide and shearling hide can be very subtle. Both are short-cut wool-bearing hides, so what’s the difference?
Hair sheep is a longer, straight-haired version, averaging four square feet in size, while the shearling is a shorter, curly-haired version averaging six square feet. More technically, under the strictest definition, shearling hide is the hide from a sheep that has only been shorn once. Both are soft and lush, ideal for decorative bed pillows.
In its natural colors, springbok hide has a two-toned color pattern; solid brown across the back and white along the belly and underside of the legs. This stark contrast can be tricky for some to work with when making pillows—while others take advantage of it to add a unique design element to their designs with clever panel arrangement.
Much like haircalf hide, springbok hide has shorter hair which gives it a soft and textured feel. At 22" wide and 36" long, the average springbok hide provides nearly six square feet of material to work with!
Other Skins to Consider
Hair-on hides can provide the best combination of appearance, feel, and quality for most pillows, but they aren’t the only hides you could use. Other exotic leathers to consider include:
- Alligator Skin. Soft and supple enough to be comfortable, alligator skin can be used for bed pillows. However, this skin is often used for throw pillows to accompany an alligator skin chair or couch.
- Python Skin. Python skin makes for excellent decorative pillows. The long, large skin lends itself naturally to making body pillows, and the scale patterns are visually distinctive.
- Zebra Skin. This hair-on hide can make a bold fashion statement as a couch pillow. Larger skins could even be used for body pillow panels.
Need help finding the perfect kind of leather for your interior design project? Check out our shop today!