Leather & Soft Materials

Our meticulous artisans are the proud possessors of tremendous dexterity, able to cover any article or surface in the realms of furnishings and fittings with leather or any other soft material through sheathing, saddlery, tapestry, and upholstering in leathers or textiles.


Sheathing is a subtle, ancient art, a traditional form of hand-executed savoir-faire. It involves snugly covering any object or piece of furniture with fabric, leather, felt, or other similar material.

The history of this art dates to antiquity, when sheathing served a more decorative purpose to enhance luxury objects, such as chests or mirrors. In the Middle Ages, sheathing appeared primarily on religious objects, including missals, reliquaries, and candleholders in various forms.

During the Renaissance, the technique was perfected and its popularity increased. It began being used to decorate furniture, such as chairs or tables. But it was truly during the Age of Enlightenment that French craftsmen developed more advanced techniques for working with and beautifying leather with hot foil stamping or leather marquetry. Their art became very popular, sought-after for covering furniture items, such as chests of drawers or wardrobes, to give them a richer, more luxurious appearance.

In the 19th century, sheathing became more accessible and widespread, found on everyday objects such as card holders, cases for writing instruments, and, of course, the cigar box, a very common object in the day.

Today, the Rinck workshops keep this venerable savoir-faire alive to create unique pieces and high-end decorative objects. Artisanal sheathing demands special technical and artistic skills. A craftsperson must master the use of highly specialized tools, such as gilding irons and awls, to create precise details and fine finishes. An artisan must also have in-depth knowledge of materials, especially leather, which requires careful handling to be attached to surfaces with precision and elegance.

In interior fitting, sheathing is used to cover drawer interiors in period or modern desks or dressing tables. Walls, too, may be sheathed, completely or partially, to embellish a room or give a space a specific identity or character. Sheathing is also commonly used in furniture workshops for everyday things such as office accessories, desk pads, notepads, pencil holders, and the like, as well as for luxury items, such as jewelry cases or cigar boxes.

Craftspeople also sheathe armchairs and chairs that are manufactured in-house, as well as period desktops. In every case, technical mastery and design skills are essential, the possibilities and aesthetic options are limitless, the variety of past achievements are dazzling.

Saddlery & Leather Upholstery

Saddlery is the ancestral art of crafting leather into various objects. It has been practiced since ancient times. In its early form, saddlers crafted saddles and harnesses for horses. Over time, the art expanded and was used mostly for itinerant courts. In the late Middle Ages, residences and castles were home to many leather hangings, which gradually replaced the woolen tapestries that had proven too light-sensitive.

Leather’s natural suppleness led artisans to begin creating luxury leather furniture for nobles and wealthy merchants. Chests and trunks were often adorned with intricate leather patterns and decorations. Saddles, bridles, and harnesses became exquisite works of art made from the finest and strongest leathers. In the 16th century, saddling artisans obtained the right to manufacture and upholster horse-drawn carriages. In their expert hands, cabs, carriages, and sedan chairs were adorned with leather. But it was in the following century that these artisans began to experiment and apply their skills to materials such as velvet, silk, and tapestries. Furniture pieces were prized for their beauty and craftsmanship and valued as collector’s items.

In the 19th century, saddlery demand skyrocketed with the rise of the automobile, and what had been called saddlery became upholstery. The horse-drawn carriage was no longer in vogue and the century brought an evolution in transportation technologies, with the development of the train and the car. Saddlery’s popularity dropped in its traditional areas as interiors of more modest cost were sought, but upholstery nevertheless kept up with fashions. Craftspeople made leather seats and interiors for cars that became symbols of luxury and sophistication. The great designers of the Art Deco period used saddlery savoir-faire for small objects and stitched leather lamps. They favored two stitches: the saddle stitch and the point de Saumur, also known as the glover’s stitch, a series of slanted stitches of varied spacing.

Saddlery is still highly coveted for the natural solidity of leather surfaces, but also for the way it is produced by the craftspeople in Rinck’s furniture and fittings workshops, combining traditional technique and cutting-edge developments. They craft seats, sofas, cushions, headboards, armchairs, curtains, floor coverings, and even wall coverings. They possess in-depth knowledge of leather varieties, characteristics, properties, and qualities.

This means they are able to select the appropriate leather for each project based on color, texture, suppleness, and sturdiness. They are highly skilled with the technical tools required to work with leather, from cutting to dyeing, stamping to stitching. They know how to stitch by hand or by machine and can set rivets, studs, and snaps. They possess the savoir-faire for creating sophisticated patterns and designs of varying complexity to personalize each piece in keeping with the client’s tastes and wishes.

Tapestry & Textile Uphosltery

The art of tapestry is believed to be nearly as old as our civilization. In the rare ancient Greek and Egyptian documents in our possession, we find tapestry looms very similar to the “high warp” (haute-lice) looms still used today, particularly at the Gobelins Manufactory, a historic tapestry factory in Paris founded in the 15th century. In the precious writings of Ovid or Homer, it is clear that tapestry was markedly present in classical Greece. For doesn’t Penelope devote years to weaving a shroud while awaiting the return of Ulysses ?

Even then, the elegance of tapestry, its meticulous, rich detail, and the time needed to create a piece made it an art worthy of the gods. But the end of the Middle Ages is the period seen as the golden age of tapestry, and the trade – in its current form – is an art inherited from the craftspeople of that time. The art and trade expanded into making curtains, called courtines, and covers, called courtepointes or coverpanes. Artisans also crafted and installed hangings and tapestries.

While their trade was certainly decorative, it was also utilitarian, since it prevented drafts, kept ground humidity from penetrating, and protected occupants from cold and heat.

During the reign of Louis XIV and at the instigation of Colbert, the Manufacture Royale des Gobelins, the Gobelins Manufactory, gained unparalleled importance. Its prolific production was distributed to furnish castles and royal houses throughout Europe. The factory exists to this day, but is now national rather than royal.

In the 20th century, tapestry once again gained artistic presence with avant-garde creations. Several persons of note – such as Antoine-Marius Martin, Director of the Aubusson National School of Decorative Arts, Marie Cuttoli, art collector, gallerist, and an important patron of modernist textiles in decades past, or the duo of famed decorators and architects Louis Süe and André Mare – served as catalysts in tapestry’s new expansion. In 1925, at the Exposition Internationale des Arts Décoratifs at the Grand Palais in Paris, tapestry was given pride of place. The public discovered new and never-released works by young artists, as well as those of renowned designers and interior architects, such as those previously mentioned.

Visitors immediately grasped the modernity of their works. One individual still stands out today as he who restored the art of tapestry to its former glory: Jean Lurçat. The surrealist painter was entrusted with numerous commissions that helped bring tapestry workshops back to life. Often monumental with very bright colors and easily recognizable designs, such as his roosters or suns, Lurçat’s creations were generally commissioned to adorn modern architecture, such as Pierre Chareau’s glass house in Paris.

Rinck is deeply committed to applying this traditional savoir-faire to contemporary creation. Our team of designers works in collaboration with major textile production companies, such that our tapestry artisans’ expertise can be expressed in exceptional projects. These craftspeople are able to decorate any interior space. Hangings, sheers, curtains, cushions, covers, headboards ; they can adorn doors or cupboards, stuff any seat with horsehair or foam, work on all types of armchairs and sofas, period or contemporary.

But beyond this purely technical knowledge, the job requires a flair for research. Working together with the designers and the design office, Rinck’s craftspeople have excellent knowledge of fitting and furnishing styles. They regularly perform bibliographic research to take the designers’ work further and find the style or period of a seat, the aesthetic hallmarks of a given era, to offer options and ideas in line with the broader vision for the projects on which they work.

Through contemporary creations – such as the textile collection designed by Rinck and released by Maison Thevenon, or the capsule seating collection paying homage to the decorative arts created in collaboration with Fromental – Rinck continues its dialogue between past, present, and future, from legacy to modernity, and artistically expresses its commitment to reinterpreting the past with humility and creativity.