Thomas Forsyth and Owen Gildersleeve recently collaborated to create 'Aschenputtel', after being approached by Designersblock to exhibit in Interiors 2010 at the Birmingham NEC. The name "Aschenputtel" is taken from a Brothers Grimm version of the classic folk tale Cinderella. A story about neglect and transformation.
The designers have been working with Emmaus, a fantastic organisation that provides work and community for people who have become homeless or socially excluded. A large part of Emmaus's work involves recycling furniture. The pair set about working with some of the items that Emmaus find it difficult to sell due to condition or desirability, whilst playing on the idea that "within even the most exhausted, unlikely places, inner beauty can often still be found".
Externally, Forsyth and Gildersleeve's collaboration appears to be a broken chest of drawers that would most likely be found in landfill, but in this case, all is not as it would seem. The pair have internally up-cycled the piece into a unique, bespoke chest of unexpected secrets.
The false first drawer leads to the discovery that the top of the chest is hinged. Inside is a large compartment, lined with colourful patchwork upholstery, that has been created by up-cycling the material from old ties (another item for which Emmaus have little demand). The second drawer is missing a handle, and when pulled, opens like a door to reveal symbolic carvings and two secret drawers. The third uncovers an intricate hand-cut paper illustration that sits beneath a layer of glass. When removed completely, the final drawer can be transformed into an accompanying table by unfolding the concealed legs within it. The surface of the table is carved with further illustrations that reference elements of the fairytale that has been woven into Forsyth and Gildersleeve's 'Aschenputtel'.