Furniture design

A Surrealist parlour game inspired the intricate marquetry of this furniture

The Exquisite Corpse collection features three handmade furniture pieces decorated with straw marquetry in an array of jewel tones.

Arthur Seigneur, a Parisian master craftsman, and Australian industrial designer Adam Goodrum, give straw marquetry an update with vibrant, custom-dyed colours.

Seigneur is one of the only select numbers of artisans in the world that practice straw marquetry.

Together with Goodrum, the pair worked with artisan cabinet makers to build the furniture, which was then covered with straw marquetry – the 17th-century art of creating hand-crafted decorative patterns from thin, flattened strips of rye straw – by Seigneur.

Exquisite Corpse collection by Arthur Seigneur & Adam Goodrum
© Victoria Zschommler

The collection takes its name from the French translation ‘Cadavre Exquis’, which refers to the French parlour game invented by the Surrealists in 1925.

In the game, a player sketches a body part or other image on a piece of paper, before folding the paper to conceal what they’ve drawn and passing it on to the next player, and so on.

Exquisite Corpse collection by Arthur Seigneur & Adam Goodrum
© Victoria Zschommler

The completed figures tend to be wildly inventive and frequently bizarre. 

Here, the game relates to Adam and Arthur’s creative process and captures the wonderful tension in the duo’s back and forth process; with form, patterns and colours bound only by the mandate to celebrate straw marquetry’s dazzling visual effects.

Exquisite Corpse collection by Arthur Seigneur & Adam Goodrum
© JC
© JC

Rather than traditionally decorating only the front of each piece, the entire object is clad in richly coloured geometric patterns of straw. 

The units are precision-carved by CNC machinery and feature faceted surfaces that enable light to pool and dart across their contours courtesy of the straw’s natural sheen.

Every possible surface features the geometric facade including the undersides, drawers and cavities.

Intrepid colour combinations add a dimension of visual intrigue, as do Seigneur’s inclusion of pearlescent white straw elements that accentuate the other hues.

© JC

Painstakingly perfect

The decadence of the Exquisite Corpse collection lies in the sheer amount of time spent on each piece.

It culminates in over 14,000 individual, hand-dyed strands of straw applied in the ‘Talleo’ tallboy, over 10,000 in the ‘Longbow’ credenza and over 6,000 in the ‘Archant’ console.

In labour terms, 9,000-10,000 shards of straw is approximately four intensive months.

© Josh Purnel