When Scottish-born, Stockholm-based silversmith David Taylor discovered that a neighbouring window-making company had dumped heaps of aluminium tubes and profiles into a skip, he felt a mixture of sadness and joy. He then promptly retrieved the items and refashioned them. The result is ‘All of the Above’, a series of precious objects currently on view at The Future Perfect in both New York and San Francisco.  

David Taylor tends to collect all kinds of material from containers. “It’s a challenge, a way of testing myself. I don’t like to see things going to waste, and when I find something, I feel that I should do something with it.” Lately there have been plenty of opportunities to do just that. And he doesn’t have to go very far to haul in the loot either. “My neighbourhood is in the process of gentrification. Small companies can’t afford it here anymore, so they relocate and get rid of their rubbish.” The market is changing, too: “Consumers increasingly buy ready-made products, which soon become useless. As a craftsman, this makes me sad, because the on-going process of standardisation leads to a loss of skills”, says Taylor, recalling how he converted a friend’s toilet that had been imported from the USA (“a copy of the one used in The Godfather!”), because there were no plumbers in Sweden who could do it. “Isn’t it a shame that today even plumbers are stuck when something is not standard?”

candelabra/object: turned aluminium, copper
Although Taylor calls his sorrow about the disappearance of skills “a permanent undercurrent” in his work, it is never obvious. And although he works with scrap, the result always looks great. Ordinary materials receive an absolutely fabulous second life – those aluminium pipes and sections in the All of the Above series look so glamorous! “I care a lot about aesthetics”, says Taylor, who is a free mover between the blurred boundaries of art, craft, and design, “while functionality is in the background”. He explains that a silversmith makes symbols – “things that people will take out once a year to impress their friends and family. These are not everyday objects. With silverware, effect is always more important than function – it has to look good, first of all. Even when I’m using leftover items, I still very much work with this idea in mind.”

The global financial breakdown in 2008 forced silversmith David Taylor to look for alternatives, to open up his work and range of activity. “The price of silver sky-rocked so hugely that I couldn’t afford it anymore. So I started to experiment with cheaper materials. Also, I felt that in silver there was no future – I mean, a silver coffee pot easily costs between ten and fifteen thousand euros. The generation who buys those kind of products is dying out.” Taylor makes aluminium look its best, but acknowledges that it’s no love affair. “We’re not staring deep into each other’s eyes… But I am beginning to find satisfaction in the resulting products.”

Well, the audience loves it, as proven by his show at The Future Perfect, which is entering its final week. “American people always tend to look at the bright side, so I only truly believed the series was a success when I heard that almost everything was sold. The numbers speak for themselves. So much so that I now have a problem: there are almost no pieces left to show during the Furniture Fair in Stockholm next month!” So will waste-hunting impose itself once more? “Not really – did you see the pile of material in my studio? Way to go!” Moreover, he now has his heart set on something completely different: abandoned plastic parking cones! “We’ll see what I can do with them.” But even though all kinds of banal materials are increasingly mounting up in his place, silver remains his first and truest love. “When I retire, I’ll definitively return to silver – it’s the most gorgeous material to work with!”

David Taylor’s ‘All of the Above’ collection can be seen in the exhibition The Immaculate Object at The Future Perfect stores in New York and San Francisco until 16 Jan 2016.

During the Stockholm Furniture & Light Fair (9-13 February), David Taylor is presenting his work at Berg Gallery.