The exquisite unknowns of collaborative design

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A&A is a collaboration between two talented men: Australian industrial designer Adam Goodrum and French marquetry artisan Arthur Seigneur. The two met five years ago when Seigneur, who had moved to Sydney with his Australian partner, happened to knock on nearby neighbour Goodrum’s door one day—he’d heard Goodrum was a designer and wanted to connect. They got talking.

Now, they work together in an extraordinary way, with this exhibition based on how they employ the age-old child’s game of the ‘exquisite corpse’. In this case, the ‘blind’ collaboration, with highly unpredictable results, is based on two different aesthetic approaches, namely the design house of Goodrum combined with the traditional village-based straw marquetry skills of Seigneur. Their relatively new working relationship has led to this latest exhibition as part of Melbourne Design Week. “For both of us, we would never have done these things independently,” says Goodrum. “For me it is such a privilege to work with such an exceptional craftsman who wants to push the boundaries.”

The design and assembly of their work is, of course, highly collaborative. Goodrum tends to make a basic plan before a to-and-fro process ensues, with Seigneur doing the marquetry component (the straw, which he dyes, comes from France). Then, a lot of trial and error is involved: models are made, discussions held. “Because the pieces take so long, there is also time to say, ‘Hey, that bit isn’t working, let’s change it’,” Goodrum says.

Goodrum and Seigneur have made three large pieces to occupy the big main room at Tolarno and they say that because they are quite theatrical works, they have created a dark and moody setting with direct lighting to emphasise depth and reflection.

A&A: Exquisite Corpse / Cadavre Exquis
Tolarno Galleries
12 March – 28 March

This exhibition is part of Melbourne Design Week 2020, an initiative of the Victorian Government in collaboration with the National Gallery of Victoria.

This article was originally publishing in the March/April 2020 print edition of Art Guide Australia.

Andrew Stephens