“Straw marquetry is so unique, so precise, that no two pieces will ever be the same,” says French-born, Brooklyn-based furniture designer and restorer Christophe Pourny, “which makes it an attractive prospect for the person who wants a truly bespoke finish, texture, and surface.”
Inspired by the midcentury work of French interior designer Jean-Michel Frank, Pourny’s talent for lacquer work, inlay and traditional straw marquetry – working in handcut rye straw sourced from Burgundy and Brittany – is realised both through close collaborations with interior designers such as David Kleinberg, Jamie Drake and Thierry Morali, as well as by working on commissioned pieces for private clients – from cigar boxes ($1,000) to entire rooms (from $100,000).
The process typically takes two to three months, depending on the size and scope of work. Popular requests are for accent tables and consoles ($15,000), entertainment centres ($25,000) and night stands ($5,000) with exquisite, iridescent patterns in chevrons, fans, circles, sunbursts and, in the case of bespoke boxes, monograms or crests – in hues that range from the palest gold to rich, dark brown. Larger projects have included a foyer in Bratislava, a powder room ($20,000) in New York, and elevator doors and wall panelling for one London client “who wanted that big voilà! moment upon entry”, says Pourny.
He has also seen an uptick in requests from yacht owners who appreciate the “enduring finish that requires no maintenance. Straw is coated in silica that makes it naturally water resistant so no varnish or oil is required.”
For Pourny, the joy comes from “transforming what might be an ordinary piece of furniture into a stunner using an unexpected finish”. Indeed, the unexpected is what drives him to imaginative new heights: “My passion for such historical methods has taught me how to take creative licence when a piece merits it.”