With its innovative techniques and use of sustainably-sourced materials, Argentine hide and fur rug brand Yerra is taking an old tradition into a new era

The idea of decorating with skins or furs typically tends to evoke the sense of a rustic, country-style setting rather than an urban, modern aesthetic. But a small brand based in Buenos Aires, Argentina, is changing the game.

Founded in 2004, Yerra’s hide and fur rugs come in such a wide array of colourful and contemporary designs that at first glance, you might not be sure that you’re looking at a piece of cow hide. The brand also follows strict environmentally friendly guidelines and places bespoke services at the forefront of its offerings.

“Yerra was founded more than 10 years ago as the result of energetic experimentation,” says Santiago Schapira, the owner of Yerra. “We only start designing when we have inspiring ideas, and these ideas can come through exploring contrast, shape, technology, and different materials.”

The team spends ample time brainstorming and testing new ways to push the limits of its designs, making each piece truly inimitable. Such dedication has landed the rugs in fine homeware stores in the United States and beyond; in Singapore, the brand is available through luxury rug and carpet distributor Etesse. The brand’s versatility has led to its products being used as wall coverings and in furniture and even handbags.

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A Yerra piece begins with the selection of its raw materials. The brand hand-picks top quality cow hides, goat and sheep skins, as well as furs from an exclusive shortlist of suppliers across the globe. In the end, only a third of the material surveyed is selected following a list of criteria such as scent, shine, and smoothness.

Following that, the pieces are treated so as to increase their durability, resulting in products that are long-lasting and resistant against stains and rough treatment.

But it’s not only the quality of the hides and furs that Yerra’s artisans look out for. The hides and furs that Yerra sources are all by-products of the meat industry, and all suppliers comply with environmental regulations. The hides are then tanned with environmentally friendly products.

“Being environmentally conscious is very important to us and we don’t take this lightly,” explains Schapira. “There are many ways by which a company can honestly contribute to this cause; knowing how products are made and what they are made of is key.” He gives the example of utilising eco-conscious processes to create environmentally friendly materials; this prevents the production process from being more toxic than the materials they are helping to produce.

Being environmentally conscious is very important to us and we don’t take this lightly. There are many ways by which a company can honestly contribute to this cause; knowing how products are made and what they are made of is key

After raw materials comes technique. Yerra carries forward South American traditions and craftsmanship, combining it with constant innovation by developing its own dying techniques, colour palettes and patterns, while applying complex and contemporary patterns to hides through laser technology. The brand also collaborates with designers from all over the world—particularly designers whose ideas go against the status quo.

Schapira finds that to be the best way to achieve new and exciting ideas. “It’s how we re-interpret and use materials that keeps us fresh,” says Schapira. “The design world is constantly reinventing itself and giving new meanings to the same concepts and objects.”

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The end result is a range of collections featuring colours and patterns that are a far cry from your regular brown cowhide rug. Instead, Yerra boasts hides in avocado green and fire engine red to even rich burgundies and calming blues. Patterns include stripes, herringbone, circles and other geometric prints to more abstract gradient designs.

The heart of Yerra, however, is its bespoke creations. Clients can specify their size, colour and finish of choice, after which Yerra’s craftsmen select the perfect combination of hides and furs to suit the design.

Each creation is then meticulously checked to ensure its quality, from stitch width to the direction each hair points in. “We only finish a product when we are confident in its quality,” Schapira says. These evaluations are informed by years of experience perceiving and checking the products.

Indeed, Yerra’s clientele—mostly interior decorators and homeowners on the hunt for something new and original—are a valuable galvaniser for the brand’s continued innovation. “We take our customers very seriously and we keep an open channel for suggestions and ideas,” says Schapira. “Yerra is a constant work in progress that is fuelled by experience and the input of our team and our customers.” 

This story is adapted from Singapore Tatler Homes Feb-Mar 2019