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Chest of drawers - You Can't Lay Down Your Memories

You Can't Lay Down Your Memories

  • Object:

    Chest of drawers

  • Place of origin:

    The Netherlands (designed)
    Netherlands (manufactured)

  • Date:

    1991 (designed)
    after 1993 (manufactured)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Remy, Tejo (designer)
    Droog Design (manufacturer)

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Reclaimed drawers, maple, hemp, steel

  • Museum number:

    W.39:1 to 22-2008

  • Gallery location:

    20th Century, Room 76, case 20 []

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.

Physical description

Twenty found / reclaimed twentieth century, drawers and one wine rack, each in an individually fitted maple housing, the whole group strapped together with a length of industrial hemp strapping.

Place of Origin

The Netherlands (designed)
Netherlands (manufactured)


1991 (designed)
after 1993 (manufactured)


Remy, Tejo (designer)
Droog Design (manufacturer)

Materials and Techniques

Reclaimed drawers, maple, hemp, steel

Descriptive line

'You Can't Lay Down Your Memories' chest of drawers, designed by Tejo Remy, 1991, manufactured by Droog Design, after 1993

Bibliographic References (Citation, Note/Abstract, NAL no)

Paola Antonelli, 'Objects of Design from the Museum of Modern Art', MoMA, New York, 2003, p.276
Gareth Williams, 'The Furniture Machine, furniture since 1990', V&A, 2006, p.32
Damon Taylor, 'Laying Down Memories: The Cultural Mobility of Tejo Remy's Chest of Drawers', Journal of Design History, Vol. 29, No. 3 (2015), pp. 245-257

Production Note

Attribution note: Edition of 200



Production Type

Limited edition


Furniture and Woodwork Collection

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