If I had the choice of taking a piece from the New York Museum of Modern Art‘s collection, it would be this chest of drawers made by Dutch designer Tejo Remy in 1991. Aptly called “You Can’t Lay Down Your Memory”, the dresser is featured as part of the Standard Deviations exhibition of objects and designs in the Museum’s collection that belong to families. It’s made from mismatched second-hand drawers held together by a rough belt. It looks a lot like a pile of suitcases bundled together for travel, the kind you’d use to keep tokens and souvenirs (all memore fragments) and carry them around from one place to the other.
Remy was one of the first members of Droog Design, the Dutch collective founded in 1993 by artist and designer Gijs Bakker and curator and critic Renny Ramakers. Many Droog objects celebrate ingenuity and an apparent poverty of means, elevating them to an aesthetic philosophy – a response to the exuberance and excess of 1980s design. Remy’s dresser has the visual impact and provocative intent of a Dada assemblage. “The chest can be seen as a statement targeted at profession, trade and public alike, putting our overproduction and over-consumption into question,” Droog founder Renny Ramakerssaid. “The chest is ‘formless’ and imperfect, a memorable presence in a world where all emphasis has been on form and perfection and still is.”
Soon after designing it, Remy (the most rebellious and idealistic of the group) left Droog Design in order, he has said, to maintain autonomy from the collective and “their power to decide which objects can see the light on the basis of marketing calculations.”
This article is part of a series of posts about my visit to the Museum of Modern Art in New York. Click here to read the complete series.