Tejo Remy, You Can’t Lay Down Your Memories (chest of drawers), 1991 .
This remarkable reconfiguration of a chest of drawers was one of the most startling and influential furniture designs of the 1990s. Each drawer was salvaged from an existing piece of furniture, most commonly from office systems or cheap domestic furniture. In themselves they are unremarkable, but the drawers have been made precious by re-housing them in specially constructed solid maple housings, often of far greater quality than the drawers themselves. The design encourages us to reconsider questions of value, and to think about the histories of the furniture from which the drawers came, and the lives of the people who used them. This re-connection with history, and the ‘make-do-and-mend’ aesthetic of the industrial strap binding the drawers together, were typical of Dutch design of the period, and ran counter to the slick modernity and minimalism of much contemporary design. Two years after it was designed the chest of drawers was included in the first collection by Droog Design, the group that did most to popularise Dutch conceptual design ideas outside the Netherlands.