London-born London-based David Gates combines studio furniture-making with formal research. His work is exhibited and collected internationally. He received the Gold Award at the Cheongju biennale 2015 and was a winner of the Jerwood Contemporary Makers 2010. Gates recently completed a PhD thesis at King's College London having researched the use of talk as an aspect of practice amongst professional craftspeople.

Trained as a designer he has always found making and the workshop to be the most expedient way to explore ideas, working from sketches and models through to samples and experiments. Recent design and making work centres on the collecting cabinet. His various iterations on this form feature numerous types of openings and being explicitly three dimensional play with an idea of having more than one front elevation. His work makes use of mass, volume, balance, and structure having a clear relationship to architecture, yet is also wholly functional. Spaces, interiors, ledges, and shelves reveal them selves through doors, tambours, drawers, and fall-flaps suggesting places to store and display objects. These ideas combine encouraging users to spend time with a piece. Works are individually made using hand and machine processes. Gates is interested in how the cabinet operates simultaneously as text and context mediating between objects, spaces, and people. His work is informed by photographic and drawn fieldwork of the industrial landscape. His riverside studio sits in this zone close to the remaining Thames-side wharves and jetties and on the way to the flat landscape of the estuary. His workbench looks across to the cranes, buildings, and conveyors of the Tate & Lyle factory.

Although recently focus has been working on collecting cabinets Gates uses a similar approach to design and making across a range of furniture projects. These have included public art-works for Gloucester NHS, working with the ceramic artist Richard Slee on the display of his exhibition Camp Futility, collaborating with residents of St. Mungoe's to realise a project for the London Design Festival, exhibition furniture for the National Centre for Craft and Design's show Beauty is the First Test, and working on inter-disciplinary projects such as Intelligent Trouble and Pairings. This is alongside writing book chapters and delivering refereed papers as part of his PhD research.



PhD research 2008 - 2017
Thesis title: The Makers’ Tongue: Small Stories of Positioning and Performance in the Situated Discourses of Contemporary Crafts Practitioners.
King’s College London. Supervisors: Alexandra Georgakopoulou, Professor of Discourse Analysis and Sociolinguistics and Celia Roberts, Professor of Applied Linguistics.

1985 – 1988 BA hons. Furniture and Product Design, Ravensbourne College of Art and Design.
1984 – 1985 Art Foundation Course Diploma, Ravensbourne College of Art and Design.


Selected exhibitions

2017 Collect, Gallery Spotlight; new work with Helen Carnac. Sarah Myerscough Gallery.

2016 PAD London Sarah Myerscough Gallery 2015 Cheongju Biennale, South Korea. Gallery LVS

2015 Collect, London. Sarah Myerscough Gallery.

2015 Methods of Making. National Centre for Craft and Design.

2015 Art Geneve. Sarah Myerscough Gallery. 2015 Crafting Anatomies, Bonnington Galleries, Nottingham Trent University.

2014 On Display, Sarah Myerscough Gallery, London. London Design Festival.

2014 Collect, Saatchi Gallery, London. With Contemporary Applied Arts.

2013 Beauty is the First Test. National Centre for Craft and Design, and touring nationally.

2013 St Mungo’s/Woodworks project: A Design Process. London Design Festival, Victoria & Albert Museum.

2012 The Tool at Hand. Milwaukee Art Museum. Wisconsin, USA. (Reviewed: Journal of Modern Craft vol 5 issue 3 pp351-4.) Touring USA 2013-14, Philadelphia, Houston, and Portland.

2012 Tankerekker. Telemark Kunsterersenter, Norway. Solo show.

2012 Pairings 2 Stroud International Textiles. Site-specific installation with Alice Kettle and Jane Webb at The Museum in the Park.

2011 Loop, Intelligent Trouble. Contemporary Applied Arts, London. Participation and group curation.

2011 Collect at the Saatchi Gallery, London, with New Brewery Arts.

2011 HOST, Velvet da Vinci, San Francisco. Curation and participation, an installation of collaborative making.

2010 Intelligent Trouble, Under The Counter, Jewellery in Conversation
Smiths Row Gallery, Bury St Edmunds. Publication in preparation.

2010 Pairings - A Conversation. Manchester Metropolitan University and touring nationally, Catalogued ISBN 10-1905476531.

2010 Starting Points. Site-specific installation of two works 100 Legs and Liquorice Straps. Siobhan Davies Studios, London. (Reviewed: Journal of Craft Research volume 2 pp161-5).

2010 Jerwood Contemporary Makers, Jerwood Space, London, and touring to March 2011 Naughton Gallery Belfast, Innovative Crafts Edinburgh and National Gallery of Craft, Kilkenny, Eire

2010 Intelligent Trouble; A Curious Exchange. Contemporary Applied Arts, London. Participation and group curation

2009-2011 Taking Time; Craft and the Slow Revolution.Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery and touring,Reviewed: Journal of Modern Craft volume 3 issue 3 pp373-5.
Catalogued ISBN 978-0-9526832-9-2

2009 In Transit, Munich.

2008 Focus, Contemporary Applied Arts, London.

2007 Collect , Victoria and Albert Museum, London.

2003 Helen Carnac and David Gates, Flow Gallery, London.

2002 Still , Applied Arts Agency, London.

2001 St Pancras Chambers, Grand Midland Hotel, London

2000 Sotheby’s Contemporary Crafts, London, collaboration with Hikaru Noguchi

1999 Innerspace, The Orangery, Holland Park. London.

Authoring of refereed conference papers and book chapters

Book chapters.

From In Our Houses to The Tool at Hand: Breaching Normal Procedural Conditions in Studio Furniture Making. In Marchand, T. (Ed) 2016 Craft as Problem Solving. Pp115-132 Ashgate.

History in the Making; the use of talk in inter-disciplinary contemporary craft collaborative practice. In Sandino, L. & Partington, M. (eds) 2013. Oral History in The Visual Arts. Pp 55-66. Bloomsbury.

Triangulation: Working Toward a Practice of Collaboration. Co-authored with Kettle, A. & Webb, J. In Collaboration Through Craft. Ravetz, A. Kettle, A. & Felcey, H. (eds.) (2013) pp 45-58. Bloomsbury. The Trouble With Verbs. In The Tool at Hand, Catalogue. 2013. Chipstone Foundation.


Refereed conference papers.

Locally-made identities: Interactional positioning in the small stories and counter narratives of a group of crafts practitioners.'Discourse: Multidisciplinary Perspectives symposium' The English Language & Linguistics group at the University of Sussex. 18th November 2016.

"Meaning Making in the Moment: Small Stories-in-interaction Enabling Critical Reflection". To Think is to Experiment symposium, Centre for Narrative Research, University of East London. April 29th 2015.

“Stories From The Workshop: Communicative Practices Amongst Craft Practitioners”. Making Futures Conference, Plymouth College of Art September 26th-27th 2013. Published in online journal of proceedings:

“History in the Making; the use of talk in inter-disciplinary contemporary craft collaborative practice.” Oral History Society conference, Victoria & Albert Museum, 2nd-3rd July 2010.

“Sweepings; talk in inter-disciplinary collaborative craft practice” Pairings conference, Manchester Metropolitan University. May 2011.

“Triangulation Theory.” A paper written collaboratively with Alice Kettle and Dr Jane Webb. Pairings conference, Manchester Metropolitan University. May 2011. Published in Collaboration Through Craft, 2013, Berg.

“Lost For Words; Developments in a New Language.” New Craft Future Voices, Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art and Design. July 4th-6th 2007.
ISBN 1 899837 55 8 pp256-262.


Subject of peer review and critical writing.

‘The Journal of Modern Craft’, vol 5 issue 3 Oct 2012 pp351-354. Exhibition review; The Tool at Hand, Milwaukee Art Museum. Jennifer Geigel Mikulay.

‘The Journal of Craft Research’, vol 2, April 2011, pp161-. Exhibition review; 60/40 Starting Points Series 2010, Siobhan Davies Studios, Heidi Yeo.

‘The Journal of Modern Craft’, vol 3 no.3 Nov. 2010 pp373-5. Exhibition review, Taking Time; Craft and the Slow Revolution, Martina Margetts.

‘Studio; Craft and Design in Canada’, Fall/Winter 2010, pp38-42, ‘Making Time’

‘Perspectives’, Sept. 2010, pp60-62 ‘Playing With Time’

Selected Public Commissions

2011-12, North Cotswolds Community Hospital. Memory Assets. Permanent installation of a series of artworks. Commissioned by NHS Gloucestershire.

2007, Paget School, Birmingham. Design and make furniture for an inter-disciplinary reconfiguration of part of the school building collaborating with architectural, metal and colour specialists. A Creative Partnerships project with Craftspace.

2006, St. Botolphs church Aldgate, London. Design and production/installation of display system for ‘Heirlooms” exhibition.

2005, Bilston Craft Gallery, Wolverhampton. Design and making of nine pieces of furniture for the Craftsense permanent collection including a reading table and benches for a newly created public area. This was a collaboration with artist Helen Carnac.

2003-20015, St. Giles church, Farnborough, Kent. Grade II listed building largely dating from the middle-ages. Design and making and installation of extensive cabinetwork and fittings to two vestries, altar frontal chest, choir materials storage. Commissioned by the diocese of Rochester.

2002, University of Westminster, School of the Built Environment.
Boardroom furniture: table, credenzas and chairs designed with John Miller and manufactured by myself.

Nationally/Internationally Recognised Awards

2015 Gold Award at the Cheongju Biennale, South Korea for the piece Perpetually Ajar.

2015 Perpetually Ajar and From Greenwich to The Barrier both shortlisted for The Wood Awards.

2011 Winner, Wesley Barrell Craft Award for Established Makers.

2010 Winner, Jerwood Award for Contemporary Making.

2006 Wesley Barrell Craft Award for Established Makers, highly commended runner-up.

1988 New Designers. Winner of lighting design award.

1988 Awarded Royal Society of Arts and Department of Trade and Industry Bursary.


Work held in collections.

Nasjonalmuseet for Kunst, Arkitektur og Design, Oslo, Norway. Silo; a collecting cabinet.
Cheongju biennale collection. Perpetually Ajar.


Lecturing and Teaching

Sept 2002- 2011, London Metropolitan University, Senior Lecturer 0.5 fractional, 3D Design and Craft. Course organiser 2002-05 for the BA(hons) programme. Module leader and supervisor across modules in studio design, workshop practice and contextual and theoretical studies at BA, MA, and FdA levels. Wrote course materials including writing and launching new courses.
Various periods of teaching have been undertaken at Camberwell College of Art, Ravensbourne College of Design, Central Saint Martins, University of East London.


Selected other professional esteem.

Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts.
Chair and Convener of the Penland Fellowship in Wood.
Panel member for furniture, Crafts Council Setting Up Award scheme.
Mentoring for the Crafts Council Hothouse scheme.

Works published in

“Star Pieces, The Enduring Beauty of Spectacular Furniture”, Chislett, H. Linley, D & Cator, C. Thames & Hudson 2009. ISBN 9780500514825.
“500 Cabinets” Hemachandra, R. Lark Books, 2010. ISBN-10: 1600595758