A&A is the collaboration between Australian industrial designer Adam Goodrum and French marquetry artisan Arthur Seigneur. Focused on the creation of collectable objects celebrating the kaleidoscopic visual effects of straw marquetry, A&A objects are always single-edition with every detail fully bespoke, representing a synthesis of design innovation and traditional craftsmanship. Their process driven practice explores the limitless possibilities of colour and pattern through an interplay of grain direction and reflection that is brought to life through the singular properties of rye straw.
A&A’s ethos rebels against consumerist post-industrialised society’s demand that objects be made faster and in multitude. Straw marquetry, with its lengthy handmade preparation and application process, has the luxury to be the opposite and when blended with 3D geometry, pattern and bold colour seeks to elicit curiosity, wonder and joy.
Preeminent industrial designer Adam Goodrum is at the forefront of a new generation of Australian designers. The recipient of many awards for his wide-ranging design projects, Goodrum won the NGV triennial Rigg Design Prize in 2015, the highest accolade for contemporary design in Australia. Working with global brands such as Cappellini, Alessi and Veuve Cliquot, his work has been showcased throughout the world and is collected by museums, including National Gallery of Victoria, Art Gallery of Western Australia, Bagatti Valsecchi Museum Italy, the London Design Museum and Design Museum Gent.
Parisian master craftsman Arthur Seigneur has spent the past decade refining his craft in the tradition of 17th century French decorative arts. A graduate of the prestigious École de la Bonne Graine furniture-making school, Seigneur first honed his hand as an apprentice to a harpsichord maker, then to a master restorer. But it was while working alongside marquetry artiste Lison de Caunes, grand-daughter of renowned Art Deco designer André Groult, that Seigneur developed the craft which would become his calling: marqueterie de paille – straw marquetry. Today, Seigneur is one of only select number of artisans in the world that practice the craft.
Arthur found himself in Australia after following love (how French!) and fortuitously landed in a studio just a street away from Adam's inner-city Sydney studio. Their paths crossed and the duo first collaborated on a reinterpretation of Arne Jacobsen’s iconic Series-7 chair for a Cult furniture charity project. Inspired by the blurring of the boundaries of traditional craft, art and modern design, they formalised their practice as A&A producing the ‘Bloom’ cabinet, the first of their purpose-designed pieces. After debuting in Milan in 2018, ‘Bloom’ was subsequently acquired by the National Gallery of Victoria in the same year. Representation with prestigious Tolarno Gallery followed, along with A&A’s first solo show ‘Exquisite Corpse’ in 2020, which presented three transcendent pieces of furniture, all of which were quickly acquired.
Straw marquetry is the art of hand crafting decorative patterns from ribbon-thin, flattened slithers of rye straw. Individually tinted, the stems are imported in small batches directly from France. Each stem is dyed, opened and flattened into fine strips. It is then inlaid by hand, edge to edge on paper or wood until the entire surface is covered. Patterns are achieved through careful pre-planning and expert execution.
Once applied, rye straw is inherently durable, creating a precious impermeable finish. Since every single strand of straw is unique, each piece of furniture is true bespoke: no two are alike, each project is a one-off. A naturally complex material, straw reflects light like no other lacquer in the world.
Straw marquetry is a painstaking technique similar to marquetry, which has traditionally utilised wood veneer (as well as materials such as shell and ivory) to decorate furniture and other objects. It emerged in Europe in the 17th century and went on to enjoy great esteem in France, especially under the reign of Louis XV (r.1715- 74). Straw marquetry experienced a revival in the early 20th century thanks to Art Deco luminaries such as André Groult, Jean Royère and Jean Michel Frank, the latter of whom used it to decorate entire walls as well as items of furniture.