It’s not easy to reinvent a classic. Yet that’s exactly what the Spicewood-based Kyle Bunting did in 2001, when he put ribbons of black cowhide together in a herringbone pattern to create a rug that was geometric and chic, the antithesis of the earthy, amorphous cowhide rugs everyone was familiar with. Though this was his first foray into hide decor, he wasn’t a total outsider. “My father had done some stuff with cowhide when I was a kid,” he says. And later, after moving to San Francisco, Bunting decided to try it himself. Since then he’s produced countless rugs as well as furniture, pillows, art, and wall coverings, all of which are manufactured at his studio just outside Austin, where he and his wife, Libby, now live. He’s assisted in the studio by a stable of artisans, who work at wooden tables while music plays on the sound system, cutting the hides both manually and by computer-controlled machine, then hand-assembling each item. Bunting often collaborates with notable designers like Philippe Starck and Jan Showers, but his work still echoes that original rug: pieces of hide in sophisticated, often intricate patterns. And every creation is undeniably elegant—not bad for a material usually associated with cowboys and dusty ranches.
For more examples of Bunting’s work, click here.