The You Can’t Lay Down Your Memory Chest of Drawers (designed 1991, manufactured 2005) by Dutch designer Tejo Remy (b. 1960) exemplifies the work of Droog, an informal confederation of Dutch designers founded by Gijs Bakker, a product designer, and Renny Ramakers, an art historian. The piece consists of recycled drawer fronts inserted in newly constructed wooden boxes held together by a commercial cinch strap.
Witty yet functional, it may seem to be merely a mélange of used and new furniture parts, but in fact it is a well-considered composition, balanced in both shape and color. The customer is invited to rearrange the parts at will. Droog’s dramatic and sometimes heretical approach challenges accepted ideas of decorum in design and materials.
Droog Design first caught the attention of international critics in 1993 with an exhibition at the Milan Furniture Fair in which the design group’s founders, Gijs Bakker and Renny Ramakers, displayed the work of a number of Dutch designers who shared the same essentially minimalist approach. Many of their objects celebrated ingenuity and poverty of means and elevated them to an aesthetic philosophy; idealism and moralism were the politically correct attitudes of the day. Remy’s You Can’t Lay Down Your Memory Chest of Drawers is made of found drawers held together roughly by a belt. It has the visual impact and provocative intent of a Dada sculpture, minus a Dadaist sense of humor.
The full catalogue description of the piece is as follows:
Twenty found rectangular drawer fronts of various size and color encased in new maple frame boxes and held together with a wide fabric cinched strap with metal latch at top. From top (clockwise): small natural wood drawer with finial pull, medium white drawer with long bar handle, thin dark brown drawer with dark brown pull, large brown drawer with two pulls, small shiny black drawer, square white drawer with metal D-shaped pull, medium dark brown drawer with metal pull, medium yellow painted metal drawer, small brown drawer, large brown drawer, long thin black drawer with cut-away handle, medium white drawer with D-shaped black handle, small thin grey drawer, large beige drawer with brown horizontal dark brown stripe and square wood handle, square clear drawer, long thin white drawer with finial pull, small blue drawer with black handle and paper labels, medium brown drawer with metal handle, medium white drawer with square red handle.
Photographed in the Brooklyn Museum.