Produced in Sydney, New South Wales, Bloom, cabinet, 2018, by Australian industrial designer Adam Goodrum and French marquetry artisan Arthur Seigneur coalesces craft and industrial design. Inspired by the lush form of a lotus in full flower, the cabinet harnesses the exuberance of a centuries-old straw inlay technique in the service of a resolutely contemporary aesthetic. The decorative straw marquetry façade, comprising 4320 sections of premium-grade rye straw imported from specialty growers in Burgundy, France, conceals a traditionally proportioned, and fairly conventional timber wardrobe. These two layers of the piece, façade and chassis, communicate not only of the collaborative nature of the fabrication process – but also the different times from which each process is drawn – from the medieval to the modern.
As technology and globalisation redefine the ways in which objects are made, consumed and valued, Bloom, cabinet demonstrates how two talented practitioners perceive and interpret the handmade and role of craft. The marquetry process of the cabinet took more than 400 hours to accomplish. Straw marquetry is a traditional technique that is thought to have originated in Europe. Each piece of wheat, rye or oat straw is opened, flattened and dyed by hand. Then the clean, iridescent patterns are inlaid on furniture and exquisite interiors. Very few furniture makers today even attempt this demanding, but rewarding craft technique. In contrast to its luxuriant exterior, the chassis is a refined structure of handcrafted, black-stained oak joinery. Its interior is lined in white maple.
This is an object that draws on a deep heritage of craftsmanship and production while being inherently contemporary and resonant in the present. For both Goodrum and Seigneur, Bloom cabinet is the beginning of a journey together to investigate the role of craft in material culture today and to position it beyond a definition of preciousness. Works such as Bloom, cabinet are representative of a way of working where the ultimate value lies not only in the object but also the process by which it is made.
Ewan McEoin, Senior Curator, Contemporary Design and Architecture, National Gallery of Victoria