Natural wonders: Beautiful straw marquetry by Lison de Caunes

Words by
Sphere Life

3rd August 2020

Breathing new life into a long-forgotten craft, the French artisan’s expertise has luxury brands clamouring for her furniture, wall panels and decorative objects

Lison de Caunes first discovered both the material and the technique behind straw marquetry in her grandfather André Groult’s workshop; he was a famous decorator and one of the biggest names of the Art Deco movement. The art of straw marquetry dates back to the 17th century; as with wood marquetry, but using rye straw instead, it is used to cover pieces of furniture as well as entire walls, floors or ceilings. “Straw marquetry is a childhood memory for me,” says de Caunes. “It was a forgotten craft, so my main goal when I started working with it was to make it fashionable again and show that it could be affiliated very well with more modern and contemporary designs and interiors.” 

Founding Lison de Caunes Créations in 2015, she has since worked with luxury brands to create pieces for their flagship stores, among them the Guerlain perfumery on the Champs-Elysées, the Louis Vuitton store on Place Vendôme and the Four Seasons Hotel in New York. 

Natural wonders: Beautiful straw marquetry by Lison de Caunes

Clients come to her with a project, from a simple table to an entire room, that they want to cover in straw marquetry. Using techniques unchanged for centuries, de Caunes cuts each length of straw in half and flattens it, then glues it into place and cuts it according to the pattern. It takes approximately four days to produce a single square metre of the simplest vertical pattern and up to one week per square metre for a more complicated arrangement. 

“The hardest one I have had to do was when I was asked to reproduce eight Hermès silk scarves in straw marquetry for the rue Saint Honoré windows of the brand’s boutique,” says de Caunes. “I had to dye the straw myself, in my fish poacher in my own kitchen. The result was amazing, but it required a tremendous amount of work.” 

She is inspired by “everything — from nature, in an exhibition that I have visited, from geometrical patterns I happen to see in the streets, in magazines, books… I really get inspiration from everywhere and anywhere. I also like to utilise different types of materials such as gold leaf, mother-of-pearl and molten glass inlays in my designs. In the end, tradition is nothing without innovation.”