Deep within a ramshackle warehouse building is an unassuming Frenchman splitting straws and glueing them onto furniture. It\u2019s not as rudimentary as it sounds. He\u2019s one of only a handful in the world still practising straw marquetry and his pieces sell for thousands. The material isn\u2019t valuable and the skill is, by his admission, fairly straightforward, but the time it takes makes for a precious commodity. As with the craft of passementeries, this method of decorating furniture is cost-ineffective and few are willing to pay the resulting value, especially when our idea of \u2018value\u2019 has been so warped by the era of cheap mass production overseas. \r\nArthur\u2019s father Jean-Luc Seigneur is another champion of an old craft, a rare embossing and hot stamping technique, and his own experience represents the downward spiral of the handmade. He established his workshop in 1979 near Bastille, Paris but has slowly been pushed to the outer suburbs, forced to fire his team one by one until he was left on his own, despite collaborations with major luxury brands. He remembers the era when designers started to become more obsessed with making income than making things of beauty. He still collaborates with decorators, artists and artisans and watching him in action is an inspiration [link to video?]. \r\nA resurgence of the handcrafted is building momentum, so will that equate to a change in buying behaviour, which might in turn allow sole traders to hire young apprentices and keep their craft alive? Arthur\u2019s recent collaborations in Australia tell of a demand from the upper echelons of interior design: Thomas Hamel, Burley Katon Halliday, Nina Maya, Jason Mowen, James Salmond and Adam Goodrum to name a few. He sees his future as creating more artworks than furniture, explaining that people are more willing to splurge on art. \r\nArthur learnt straw marquetry in Paris from Lison de Caunes, a family friend whose grandfather, designer Andr\u00e9 Groult, had dabbled in it himself during the craft\u2019s Art Deco revival, and had bequeathed her his stockpile of straw. Lison has single-handedly revived the craft in France and her mission shows what can be done with a personal investment in preservation. Arthur has had the occasional notion to teach his skills to young Australians (who often turn out to be French expats). He\u2019s found trained bookbinders seem to pick it up most effectively. There\u2019s another craft we\u2019re in danger of losing.\r\nCould some of the Gen Y and Z-ers who apply for \u2018internships\u2019 on Pedestrian TV and work for anyone for free doing anything be gently beckoned away from the overflowing digital industry and into Arthur\u2019s workshop? Same lack of pay, but to become ambassadors of a centuries-old craft rather than digital minions.\r\nThe revival of some ancient crafts via forward-thinking designers suggests we\u2019re entering an era in which this wouldn\u2019t be an impossible notion. British designer Simon Hasan\u2019s work walks the line between ancient crafts and industrial design, practising what he calls \u2018design archaeology\u2019. For years he\u2019s crafted leather furniture using a medieval technique once used to make armour, which alters the tannin and collagen fibres in the leather to make it rigid and structural. \r\nCeramicist Joe Darling of The Pottery Shed, whose hand-throwing classes just keep getting bigger, has faith in our \u201cnatural balance\u201d and believes we just won\u2019t allow heirloom crafts to be rendered obsolete. Sydney-based stonemason Ted Higgins too says these skills have a habit of being passed down at the \u201celeventh hour\u201d. He\u2019s seen the cycle of ageing stonemasons who realise they need to pass on their skills just before they retire \u2013 indeed, they were his teachers. That said, he\u2019s only had three apprentices of his own in 20 years. \r\n\u201cYou can\u2019t learn this stuff from a book,\u201d says Ted. \u201cYou need to sit there and watch and watch\u2026\u201d\r\nThe eleventh hour must be pretty close; let\u2019s hope TAFE sees a mad last-minute rush.