David Gates designs and makes furniture from his studio and workshop in South London. He makes speculative pieces for gallery show, designs and makes bespoke works to commission, and works on public art commissions. His work has a relationship with architecture, at one level his work draws upon the visual and structural elements of industrial and agricultural buildings. Braced and tensioned support-frames hold asymmetric arrangements of storage blocks above voids of air. At a further level, David’s pieces provide us with spaces: ledges, drawers, the interior of a cupboard, accessed around each piece by opening and closing doors, fall-flaps, and tambours. On first encounter we need to assess how we might access and use such a piece of furniture. It is a strategy that asks us to spend a little time – imagining what we might put in these spaces as we discover them. And as we live with a piece placing and replacing, moving and removing our objects in and around those asymmetric forms we make those spaces into a place.


A winner of the Jerwood Award for Contemporary Making 2010 Gates’ London practice draws together a multi-stranded approach to designing and making. His work embraces functional expediency as well as exploring our relationship with the stuff around us. Carefully-made bespoke furniture, cabinet-work and tables, (the quality of which was recognised in winning the 2011 Wesley-Barrell prize) sit alongside rapidly made, seemingly functionless, intuited pieces. These aspects of his work at first sight appear disparate, but on further reflection are intimately connected, they are at a distance yet connected. His work at once celebrates and interrogates making, neither fetishising nor negating either hand or machine. Gates is a founder member of the artist-led collective, Intelligent Trouble, a trans-disciplinary project exploring the idea of the social production of work. Through working collaboratively in projects such as Intelligent Trouble Gates has found the avenues to explore materials and processes beyond his expertise in wood, particularly textile, metal and sound.  

His thesis-based PhD research at King’s College London focuses on the communicative practices, narratives and discourses of craft practice. He has recently authored a chapter for the book Oral History in the Visual Arts. (Partington and Sandino, eds.)

He was a part-time senior lecturer at London Metropolitan University from 2002-2011 writing, supervising and delivering studio, workshop and theory aspects of furniture, product and craft courses. 

Recent exhibitions include; Taking Time; Craft and the Slow Revolution, (2009-11) Intelligent Trouble at Contemporary Applied Arts (2010), Jerwood Contemporary Makers, (2010-11), Starting Points at the Siobhan Davies Dance Studios (2010), Host, San Francisco (2011) and The Tool at Hand, Milwaukee (2012).






PhD research 2008 - ongoing

“Stories from the workshop. Discourses and narratives of 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.

Research Interests

Sociolinguistics; the narratives and local discourses of contemporary craft practice. Theories of workplace communication in collaborative practice.

Studio practice and artefact; the rhetorical object and furniture typologies. Cross-disciplinary collaborative art-making and its implications on normative models of working. Social interaction through talk and making in contemporary craft practice.

Selected exhibitions

2015                 Crafting Anatomies, Bonnington Galleries, Nottingham Trent University.

2014                 On Display, Sarah Myerscough Gallery, London, as part of London Design Festival.

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

2013                 St. Mungo's Woodworks Project, Victoria & Albert Museum, London, as part of London Design Festival.

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

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

2012                 Tankerekker. Telemark Kunsterersenter, Norway.

2012                 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.

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 ConversationSmiths Row Gallery, Bury St Edmunds. Publication    in preparation.  

2010                 Manchester Metropolitan University and touring, Pairings- A Conversation. 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.

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.


Selected refereed conference papers and book chapters

"From In Our Houses to The Tool at Hand: Breaching Normal Procedural Conditions in Studio Furniture Making". In Marchand, T. (Ed) Craft as Problem Solving. Ashgate. Forthcoming 2015. 

"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. In preparation for publication.

“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.Published in Oral History in the Visual Arts, 2013, Berg, edited by Linda Sandino and Matthew Partington.

“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.

Recent 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.

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, curated by Elizabeth Callinicos for the Association of Contemporary Jewellery.

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.

2003-2004, St. Giles church, Farnborough, Kent. Grade II listed building largely dating from the middle-ages. Design and manufacture of extensive cabinetwork and fittings to two vestries including robe storage for the choir and creation of office area for the clergy.

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

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.

Lecturing and Teaching

Sept 2002- 2011, London Metropolitan University, Senior Lecturer 0.5 fractional, 3D Design and Craft. Course organiser 2002-04. Module leader and supervisor across modules in studio design, workshop practice and contextual and theoretical studies.

Various periods of teaching have been undertaken at Camberwell College of Art, Ravensbourne College of Design, Central Saint Martins, University of East London. 

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