JamesPlumb "marries" antique cupboard
and staircase for Milan exhibition

| 3 comments
 

Milan 2014: London design duo Hannah Plumb and James Russell paired a Georgian corner cupboard with a Medieval staircase to create their latest assemblage (+ slideshow).

JamesPlumb marries cupboard and staircase for Milan exhibition

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.

JamesPlumb marries cupboard and staircase for Milan exhibition

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.

JamesPlumb marries cupboard and staircase for Milan exhibition

The designers combined the two independent wooden pieces, removing both elements from their ordinary uses but allowing them to still serve their functions.

JamesPlumb marries cupboard and staircase for Milan exhibition

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.

JamesPlumb marries cupboard and staircase for Milan exhibition

"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."

JamesPlumb marries cupboard and staircase for Milan exhibition

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.

JamesPlumb marries cupboard and staircase for Milan exhibition

"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."

JamesPlumb marries cupboard and staircase for Milan exhibition

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.

JamesPlumb marries cupboard and staircase for Milan exhibition

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.

JamesPlumb marries cupboard and staircase for Milan exhibition

"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.

JamesPlumb marries cupboard and staircase for Milan exhibition

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.

JamesPlumb marries cupboard and staircase for Milan exhibition

"It has a simpler rougher character, which has a relationship with the steps in terms of the texture and patina," said Russell.

JamesPlumb marries cupboard and staircase for Milan exhibition

The Cupboard Steps follows the theme of "marrying" objects that recurs in JamesPlumb's work.

JamesPlumb marries cupboard and staircase for Milan exhibition

"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."

  • force

    What is this?!

  • Vert

    A beautiful Georgian cupboard has been vandalised. Steam-punk meets found object with unsightly results.

  • Ochre

    I have been to a couple of their exhibitions and their ability to command atmosphere is quite phenomenal. I am always left more than impressed with the sensitivity that they apply to their assemblages.

    The ancient stairs leading up to this cupboard gives it an elevated importance. The cupboard has obviously been neglected and yet it has a decrepit beauty and I think that is the point. Love it.