“Lions and tigers and bears… oh my.” In the design world this quote is more aptly put “leopards and zebras and cows.” Animal prints have been longstanding design elements that have become classic patterns. As with any pattern or design, these patterns come in and out of fashion. Cowhide, zebra and leopard seem to take turns being the “it” pattern when it comes to both fashion and design.
What makes these patterns real classics is that when used in small doses, they can work in both traditional and contemporary spaces. A zebra skin rug, the darling of shelter magazines a few years ago, is a much stronger design statement than a needlepoint pillow in a zebra pattern. Playing with size and scale can make these animal prints feel bold or refined. Where they are used also affects the power of their impact. A pillow or rug in animal print becomes an accent. A sofa or wall covered in animal print is more of a statement. When working with animal prints it is all a matter of scale.
This black and white living room is centered by a classic zebra skin rug. Unlike many other African animals, zebras are not endangered. The rug’s bold pattern is the only pattern in the room so the eye is drawn to it. Using only black and white furniture creates a strong graphic look to the room that feels very contemporary. If you paired a zebra rug or cowhide rug with more traditional furnishings you would achieve a very different result.