Perpetually Ajar II falls into an ongoing series of collecting cabinets begun in late 2006. The first in the series, Silo (2007) is in the collection of Nasjonelmuseet for Kunst, Arkitectur og Design, Oslo. All of the cabinets share a relationship to architectural forms. All also share a design strategy of having more than one ‘front’, i.e. they are used on multiple elevations. Most of them have been designed and made speculatively, a few as commissions. None of them (other than the commissions) are designed with a specific use in mind. The collecting cabinets have formed the most cohesive and satisfying body of works and chains of thought in what I do as a studio furniture maker.
Perpetually Ajar was designed and made alongside another cabinet, From Greenwich to The Barrier (in a private collection) as an unmatched pair. Elements of the leg structures can be seen in the tables and desks I have made but there are perhaps deeper links to In Our Houses, a large group of quickly-made floor-standing objects begun in 2008 and the group Anon.(pts1-6) (2009). In these series I made work that were furnitural; more-or-less functionally useless yet retaining elements of furniture constructions and forms. Their indeterminacy was intended to suggest the particular...These pieces, and the collecting cabinets, have allowed me to think about the relationships between furniture, us, the spaces we and the furniture occupy, and the things that furniture contains and displays. As I mention above none are designed for specific uses but I am interested in the specific uses they will have and afford once they become used and involved in social life. To use a linguistic analogy, furniture operates simultaneously as a text and a context: they define and are defined by what they contain and the spaces they occupy.
The overall forms of the cabinet series refer to industrial and agricultural architecture and related infrastructure. There is beauty and rightness in the particular ways that silos, bunkers, jetties, conveyors, and storage tanks are put together; structurally and compositionally. In a parallel way, although the cabinets are made with craft processes, they are appropriate and expedient processes when making a one-of-kind piece: the craft processes are not present for their own sake, as excess or to exhibit skill. It is simply the case, for example, that through dovetails and slips are still arguably the best way to make a strong, long-lasting drawer.
Photographing these sites is an important part of what I do...
David Gates, 26 February 2018