The Inner Workings: Exo Cabinet by Grégoire de Lafforest

Snapshot: French designer, Grégoire de Lafforest, knows what beauty really means – it’s what’s on the inside that counts. So, he decided to bring that to the forefront of his latest “Exo” series.

The exoskeleton is usually only seen on creepy-crawlies with shells and armor to protect them in David Attenborough’s world of insect warfare. Humans have decided this is a pretty good plan, and take inspiration from their hardware for military, medical and industrial purposes. Science is always stealing ideas from the animal kingdom, but in an unexpected twist, Lafforest reckons this layout is far more than functional – it’s beautiful too.

Created exclusively for Gosserez gallery, the entire range displays the inner workings of structural format on the exterior, appearing like complex frame-work surrounding the more traditional wood paneling and finishes that are customary for furniture design. However, these bones are no chaotic creepy-crawly nonsense. These are neat, elegant, minimal and provide a delicate frame that demonstrates the basic necessities to uphold each piece. There are no frills, no fantastical elements to amplify the simplicity, and no decorations to the truth – each shape and shadow appears as it should, naturally mirroring the outline of the piece.

By extracting secondary features and elevating them to a primary status, he has reworked the visual role of each jigsaw piece giving structures like this wardrobe a completely new dimension. The wardrobe appears to float within the boundaries of its exoskeleton echoing the emptiness inside. The pure, dark wood levitates inside, like a jewel set within the bands of a ring, the thin, wiry grip of the bones contrasting with the dense, rich wood it cradles.

Smooth finishes, ergonomic touches and adaptability make this a signature Lafforest piece with a unique, unusual and surprisingly versatile edge; storage, style and a secret science lesson.

Photography by Jérome Galland