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Column of drawers

Column of drawers

  • Place of origin:

    Dorset (made)

  • Date:

    1977-1978 (made)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Makepeace, John, born 1939 (designer)
    John Makepeace Ltd. (maker)

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Birch plywood, acrylic and stainless steel

  • Museum number:


  • Gallery location:

    20th Century, Room 76, case 10

The ‘column of drawers’ is a free-standing storage unit. It consists of a stack of drawers that pivot from a central steel spine, which runs through the whole unit. Each drawer is made from thin and narrow veneers, which are bent and stacked on a coloured acrylic (plastic) drawer bottom. The acrylic contrasts with the natural colour of the wood and creates dashes of bright colour when the drawers are opened. Although the materials used are not particularly rare or valuable, each element of the unit was carefully chosen. The painstaking task of working it by hand into this novel form took many hours. John Makepeace (born 1939), who designed this column of drawers, started to produce expensive luxury furniture in the 1960s. The pieces were handmade and specially commissioned. The V&A purchased the column of drawers in 1978, at a time when John Makepeace was selling pieces to British museums. He was then celebrated as the leading British designer of craft furniture. Although identified as a furniture maker, Makepeace gave up working at the bench relatively early in his career in order to concentrate on design. Members of his studio probably made this column of drawers at Parnham House in Dorset, where he ran a furniture-making school from 1977-2000.

Physical description

Free-standing stack of two-lobed circular drawers which pivot from a central steel spine, and rest on a thick wooden base. Each drawer is made from multiple layers of birch plywood on a plastic drawer bottom which contrasts with the colour of the wood and gives consistent dashes of colour.

Place of Origin

Dorset (made)


1977-1978 (made)


Makepeace, John, born 1939 (designer)
John Makepeace Ltd. (maker)

Materials and Techniques

Birch plywood, acrylic and stainless steel


Height: 130 cm, Width: 50 cm, Depth: 50 cm

Object history note

Purchased from John Makepeace Ltd, Dorset.

Historical context note

Derived from an earlier version by which he was represented in the 1973 'The Craftsman's Art' exhibition and in the C.A.C.'s 1978 booklet 'Craftsmen of Quality'.

Descriptive line

Column of drawers, designer John Makepeace, manufacturer John Makepeace Ltd., 1977-1978

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

Wilk, Christopher, ed. . Western Furniture 1350 to the Present Day. London: Victoria and Albert Museum, 1996. 230p., ill. ISBN 085667463X.

Labels and date

Designed and made by John Makepeace (British, born 1939), Great Britain, 1978
Drawers of plied birch and coloured acrylic are cantilevered from a stainless steel column

Makepeace's furniture combines contemporary forms with utilitarian aims and traditional skills. He believes that artistic concerns of form and content should not override use and perfect finish. The sculptural quality of this storage unit is inherent in its structure and intended function, and is said not to be an end in itself. []


Birch; Acrylic; Stainless steel




ELISE; Furniture; Images Online


Furniture and Woodwork Collection

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