Lison de Caunes

The Legacy of Straw

After studying at the Union centrale des Arts décoratifs, Lison de Caunes dedicated herself to the art of straw marquetry, thus perpetuating the tradition of her grandfather, the decorator André Groult. Becoming a specialist in this technique, she revitalizes these poetic practices by restoring furniture and objects from the 17th century to the Art Deco period. She has organized several exhibitions, authored books on straw marquetry, and participated in numerous events to highlight this humble yet luxurious material that illuminates even the most contemporary furniture with its shimmer. She creates bespoke furniture, home accessories, and wall panels for decorators and interior architects. In 2015, she launched Lison de Caunes Créations, her own line of furniture in straw marquetry.

The history of straw marquetry

A French tradition dating back to the 17th century, straw marquetry fell into obscurity for decades. By dedicating herself to the restoration of ancient objects, Lison de Caunes has greatly contributed to the resurgence of straw marquetry in contemporary decoration.
This craft has attracted numerous enthusiasts and professionals over the centuries. While overshadowed by wood marquetry, it was utilized by marquetry craftsmen as well as by religious figures, sailors, and convicts, giving rise to a rich tradition, particularly in France, but also in the Netherlands and the United Kingdom.
Straw marquetry experienced a resurgence in the 1920s with figures like Jean-Michel Frank and André Groult, Lison de Caunes’s grandfather. I t was then employed by prominent decorators of the Art Deco movement to adorn walls, furniture, screens, and more.
Jean Royère was the last decorator to extensively utilize straw marquetry after the war.

The material

The straw used is typically rye straw, once dubbed the “gold of the poor” for its silky touch and shimmering reflections. It holds the privilege of being an abundant and inexpensive material. Cultivated and harvested traditionally in Burgundy, France, the straw is dried and dyed. Each stem is then split in half, glued on its matte side, and flattened with a bone folder onto a substrate (wood, metal, glass, etc.).
Straw possesses a natural silica varnish that renders it resilient and waterproof. It is a sturdy material, resistant to heat and water, but susceptible to sunlight when dyed. Straw marquetry is a matter of time, precision, and imagination.
Straw from wheat, rye, or oats has served diverse purposes over the centuries and continues to fulfill various needs: fertilizing land, binding walls in wattle and daub construction, animal feed and bedding, chairs, packaging, hats, and more. However, its potential was elevated when artisans began using it to craft art objects and decorative patterns.

The workshops

In recent years, there has been a renewed interest among decorators and designers in straw marquetry.
For the past 30 years, the Lison de Caunes Workshops have been exclusively dedicated to the craft of straw marquetry. All production takes place in the Parisian workshops with a team of 8 individuals, typically recruited from woodworking schools such as the École Boulle or the Institut Saint-Luc Tournai, or trained directly within the workshops.
Within the company, creations by Lison de Caunes herself are produced, as well as projects in collaboration with renowned interior architects and designers, destined for private clients or prestigious public spaces in France and internationally.
The Workshops are also entrusted with the restoration of ancient objects or furniture from the Art Deco period.