I moved into an apartment in Paris without much furniture. I found an old wine crate the builders had been using, cleaned it up, and used it as a bedside table. Two years later I began to realise that it was a very good bedside table, probably better than anything I could design. Established & Sons asked me to do something for them at around this time. Knowing their collection to be all about a certain eccentric British type of creativity I thought the crate would be the right kind of project for them. To their credit, specifically Alasdhair Willis, Mark Holmes and Sebastian Wrong’s, they understood the irony where many companies might not have got it, and we reconstructed the crate with a slight upgrade for domestic use (proper joints instead of nails).
We launched it at the old Pelota building in Milan and were surprised by the controversy it created. Many people, including some who I thought would understand, found it a cynical abandonment of the designer’s duty to create, but though there was a certain amount of tongue-in-cheek involved, I meant it as a serious proposal, with appropriate aesthetic and functional qualities. Some complained to me about the price (perfectly reasonable for a solid wood bedside table), and my answer was to go to a wine shop and ask for the original. It astonished me that a well-meant practical solution could upset so many people. We followed The Crate with a family of other pieces, low tables with hinged lids, bookshelves, a bed, a cupboard, and a chair. It was never going to be a big commercial hit but it has its supporters and I believe for certain less conservative interiors it offers good atmospheric influence.