To create the Cupboard Steps, JamesPlumb took a salvaged storage unit and elevated it atop a section of spiral staircase from a Medieval French house.
The one-off piece was part of the Untold exhibition curated by gallerist Rossana Orlandi at the Museo Bagatti Valescchi, located in a sixteenth-century building, during Milan design week earlier this month.
The designers combined the two independent wooden pieces, removing both elements from their ordinary uses but allowing them to still serve their functions.
The steps no longer link one floor to another, but still provide an access way to the cupboard. This is turn doesn't sit on the floor and so is less convenient to access but retains its storage purpose.
"We didn't want to let physics and gravity dictate the form in a way which became too much part of the piece," said James Russell. "This approach means we have many works in progress waiting for the right the solution because we don't want to compromise on that."
The duo believe the steps originally came from a Maison a Pondalez home, a style of house built from about 1450 to 1630, in the town of Morlaix in Brittany, France.
"We found just seven steps in pieces and found the patina of the carved oak incredible," said Russell. "When we assembled them in our studio we understood that we had just a fragment of the whole piece, and so we wanted to use them in that state instead of trying to restore them."
Steel supports were added to stabilise each 25-kilogram carved oak step, which curve up to the cupboard in the same arrangement they would have originally been positioned in.
The cupboard was sourced from an unoccupied house in Kent, England, and had a missing door and tide marks around its base created by flood damage.
"We are always interested in corner cupboards and using them in a way that celebrates them and brings them out of the corner," Russell explained.
Placing the cupboard in the middle of a room reveals the rarely-seen back surface, which has different qualities to the rest of the piece.
"It has a simpler rougher character, which has a relationship with the steps in terms of the texture and patina," said Russell.
The Cupboard Steps follows the theme of "marrying" objects that recurs in JamesPlumb's work.
"One of our biggest challenges is finding elegant technical solutions to the physical realities of our ideas," said Russell. "There is often a disconnect between our vision and the practical necessities of the making and we aim to overcome that in a way that makes it seem like our work might always have been like that, or couldn't have existed any other way. Our latest work Cupboard Steps is a great example of that."
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