I have a recurring daydream that involves getting rid of every unnecessary object in my apartment. In it, I exist with only an espresso maker, a computer, and a record player, à la this photo of Steve Jobs from the early 90s. I have a feeling this is a pretty common (not to mention heinously entitled) fantasy these days. It’s also totally unrealistic, and I’m afraid my morass of gadgets, receipts and knick-knacks is here to stay.
Michigan furniture designer Matthew Plumstead is resurrecting a largely forgotten furniture staple—the valet—to accommodate this uniquely modern problem. Valets are a hybrid of coat hanger, rack, and shelf, commonly found in rich dudes’ dressing rooms before the turn of the century. “Generally valets speak to another era, Arts & Crafts most notably,” he explains on his blog. “I think that this type of furniture is due for a remodel.”
Clip Tree is Plumstead’s update of the archaic typology: a stand of simple wooden posts that host a reconfigurable collection of rubber “widgets” designed to accommodate every object imaginable, from scarves to toys. The widgets plug in at different heights and orientations along the poles, changing as summer becomes fall and children become teenagers.
Besides being an elegant solution to the eternal struggle of man/woman/family versus their stuff, Plumstead says Clip Tree hints at how our belongings project messages about our identities. “By assembling a person’s key belongings in a logical fashion that corresponds to the body (with boots or shoes on the bottom and a helmet or hat at the top), you suddenly imbue that object with a personal spirit or personality.”
Clip Tree debuted in New York at ICFF this week. Read more on Plumstead’s website here.