Work / Publication

MacGuffin takes us inside its fifth issue: The Cabinet

“We have a long, long bucket list of objects we find interesting because they are mundane but at the same time enigmatic,” explain Kirsten and Ernst, founders of MacGuffin, the biannual magazine dedicated to the ‘Life of Things’. Every issue of MacGuffin provides a “platform for fans of inspiring, personal, unexpected, highly familiar or utterly disregarded things,” and its fifth issue, out now, explores what the world looks like from the perspective of a cabinet in three distinct sections: “to show”, “to hide” and “to keep”.

Below, we catch up with Kirsten and Ernst to find out more about why they chose this object and also asked them to pick six highlights from the issue.

Why did you choose the cabinet as the focus for your fifth issue?

“We always love ambiguous objects: things that play a distinctive role in our lives, but have a lot of different functions, meanings, and forms. That’s precisely what makes cabinets so interesting: they are there to show things off, but also to hide things and to keep things. Cabinets are not just containers; they’re a mirror of our culture, or, on a more personal level, a time capsule. The photos we got from Wolfgang Tillmans are such a time capsule: a moving registration of the state of his boyfriends cabinet when Tillmans returned home alone after he died completely unexpected. But we also have an essay about the catacombs of consumerism: the self-storages, and a diary of Yvonne Dröge Wendel, an artist that married a cabinet called Wendel.”

Were there any other contenders that didn’t make it?

“Every six months it is a difficult selection process that we still somehow manage to do in about 10 minutes on a train to a presentation. We try to look at an interesting series – so after a building element like the window, a material like the rope and an in between container like the sink, we thought it might be good to focus on a piece of furniture once more. And we always try to find a theme that is relevant to us in a certain time and place.

For instance, we’re in contact with Ibrahim Nehme from The Outpost, about a stay in Beirut so we would love to do research into the lighter. In Europe, it is almost relic from the past, but in the Middle East it is such an important symbol. But for now, we are starting with researching Nº 6, ‘The Ball’. It is a total coincidence that this summer there’s the World Championship, we didn’t know that so that shows how much we know about Football…”

Tell us about some of your highlights from ‘The Cabinet’ issue…


MacGuffin Issue 5: The Cabinet

Sottsass and the Magic of Mobili

“Combining the violent colours of gas stations in America and the mysterious rituals of India, Ettore Sottsass created a cast of cabinet characters ready for the drama of life.”


MacGuffin Issue 5: The Cabinet

Personal Totems

“Makeshift storage structures made from whatever is lying around can end up becoming permanent fixtures in the home, as the following people (above) discovered. A collection of DIY cabinets photographed by Vytautas Kumža.”


MacGuffin Issue 5: The Cabinet

Kiosk K67

“Conceived fifty years ago as public cabinets in public places, the last surviving K67 kiosks grace the streets of Eastern Europe. Recognised today as design icons, these nostalgic reminders of socialist ideals are also ‘living organisms’ capable of perpetual regeneration.”


MacGuffin Issue 5: The Cabinet

Dutch Cabinet

“By drawing 558 cabinets, one for each day of the right-wing Dutch government, artist Sara Sejin Chang (Sara van der Heide) mused on the colonial past and the queering of politics.”


MacGuffin Issue 5: The Cabinet

Mechanical Minds

“From the Turk to the Mondotheque, machines with artificial intelligence once inspired us with fear and awe. Now, for better or worse, we have become meshed with them.”


MacGuffin Issue 5: The Cabinet

Junk Space

“Architect and researcher Miti Aiello analyses the typology of self-storage facilities as an architectural, urban and cultural phenomenon. The rise of such facilities is a symptom of a disease she calls ‘stuff obesity’.”