Construction, Destruction and Documentation

Please follow link to view video submission ‘Construction, Destruction and Documentation’

Nic Wilson (Film Maker) and Elliot Gorham (Designer / Maker) have joined forces in the construction, destruction and documentation of two high quality kitchen tables.

This is a two-step process: Elliot will build two beautifully designed and quality crafted kitchen tables. On completion, we will then proceed to destroy the table surfaces by turning them upside down and riding them down the Templestowe Hill Climb reputed to be Melbourne’s steepest sealed road.

Throughout the process, Nic will be filming and documenting the project, then editing and presenting a short film. What might seem to be a tragic tale of destruction is more so the manufacture of an interesting event and a comment on the perceived precious nature of objects.

Why would anyone want to do this?

It’s a commentary on the value we place on objects. When you buy a new object, it is almost instinctive to buy protection, whether it be a physical protection like a mobile phone case or piece-of-mind protection like car insurance. Products straight off the assembly line are new and identical. These flawless products are treated preciously and we try to maintain their ‘new’ state for as long as possible. Try as we might to prevent them, accidents are inevitable and even through general use scratches and dings appear. The product still functions as it should, however for most people these new marks devalue the object.

Why is it that we don’t value these marks – cherish them as reminders of a shared history between the user and the object. The transition from new to unique should be embraced as the evidence of value and most of all, its story.

So why destroy the functioning surface of two brand new tables? First and foremost, to create an instant story that will be etched into the top of each table, which could be described as graffiti, vandalism or both. Secondly, it makes the product unique, and despite that fact that it has a matching pair, each will be affected by its own destruction and resemble its own experience. The destruction instantly creates interest and narrative, and raises questions of Destruction vs. Construction, Graffiti vs. Art and Value vs. Imperfection. Finally, unorthodox experimental processes like these often provide odd aesthetics and are beautiful in their own way.

We would like to thank you in advance for taking an interest in our project and would greatly appreciate any contributions that you might make. Your donations will go towards the documentation and the manufacture and refinement of the table design before its quick and destructive slide down the hill or is set alight in a fiery blaze.

Thanks for watching.


When I was 16, at the end of my tenth year of school I completed a cabinet in my Design and Technology course. On the completion of the cabinet the woodwork teacher and the head of the technology department offered their congratulations and complimented my work, stating that the product was of a senior standard and could easily pass for a Year Twelve project. As you can imagine I was beaming and excitedly proud of my accomplishment. As a friend and I carried the cabinet to the front office to take home, it felt nothing like a chore but more like a parade as other students glanced over at the two of us shuffling the piece from A to B.

My Dad came to collect the cabinet and I from school that afternoon, with no rope or straps, just a trailer half full of small bags of Lucerne seed, which looked like a lot like pillows. We lay the cabinet on its back and packed the surrounding area with the bags to protect it from damage and threw a few on the inside to weight it down, but also because we were running a out of room. My cabinet was tucked in and we set off home. Living on a farm, the trip was a thirty minute drive. Half way home, the wind flowing over the moving vehicle, lifted my cabinet from the trailer. From the passenger seat, it seemed to happen in slow motion. Viewed from the side mirror I witnessed the cabinet flying and flipping from the trailer, hitting the bitumen at speed, bouncing and breaking. Doors snapped off, sides busted, not a surface without scratches, corners no longer existing and a cabinet that no longer resembled that which receives compliments. I grit my teeth and held back the tears, as my father apologised with his own feelings of guilt and responsibility. When we finally got the pieces of cabinet home, I separated myself from it completely. The pride was gone and I wanted nothing to do with this piece of mangled pine.

When stuff is good it is owned and protected, when stuff is broken it is disowned and discarded with ease. Maybe a conditioned behaviour, I’m not sure.

My parents had the cabinet repaired by local cabinet maker and while it was restored and looked almost exactly as it did, my affection and pride never returned for this product, however it was put into functional use for the remaining years of high school and it travelled with me into my university years acting usefully but not owned or cherished.

I moved away and left the cabinet with my younger sister who housed the cabinet in her share house, where it functioned as storage. The share house was broken into later that year, evident from a broken windowpane. My sister and her two house mates scoured the house to identify what was taken by the intruders; laptops, CD’s, DVD’s, television, jewellery, all remained, nothing seemed to be taken and all was well – with the exception of the inconvenience of replacing the window glass. Two days passed before anyone realised that the cabinet was missing and that it had be stolen and maybe exclusively and selectively hauled out of the apartment at the time of break and enter. When informed that the cabinet was stolen I had mixed feelings, mostly not really caring, but I also felt a small pride and knowing that maybe I had just received the greatest compliment anyone might ever give me.


Tables Finished…. (not yet destroyed)

Tables for destruction have been made tangible, here they are. These table tops will be damaged in the most decorative manner.

Made from solid Walnut, these tables are light in both weight and appearance, however sturdy and credible in both material and manufacturing process.


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1 Comment

  • March 2, 2012 at 3:41 pm // Reply

    Saved as a favorite, I enjoy your site! :)

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