Max Lamb’s furniture puzzles play with material innovation
At the New York Salon 94, ‘Wood, Stone‘ will present experimental furniture designs by Max Lamb in the two materials, which explore complex manufacturing techniques
Max Lamb is presenting a new work in New York’s Salon 94 Gallery (until September 21, 2021): With the title “Wood, Stone”, this is the third in a series of solo exhibitions that deal with “a direct, honest and playful approach “to deal with” materials.
As the exhibition title suggests, “Wood, Stone” presents two separate groups of works; a range of Western Red Cedarwood wooden furniture and a collection of stone chairs that are part of an ongoing collaboration with Italian granite specialist Pedretti. The pieces in both series consist of interlocking shapes with a mixture of straight, curved and wavy edges, eclectically shaped blocks that are put together to form familiar furniture shapes.
Max Lamb’s puzzle-like designs made of wood
‘6×8’ chairs made from Western Red Cedar
With the wooden parts, Lamb describes his creative process as an inverted puzzle. The starting point for these pieces are simple blocks of wood measuring 6×6 or 6×8 inches: Lamb cut them into blocks, rearranged them and then chiselled them and connected the resulting fragments with tenons to make functional chairs, stools and benches. Apart from a small amount of sawdust, according to the designer, there is no material waste with this process, as each piece that is cut from a single block is then reassembled to create the furniture design. Lamb compares this process to a game of chess, in which every move is carefully planned in advance.
“Each cut is mapped and the consequences of the cut are processed before the cut. Every cut and every part produced is essential, ”says Lamb. “What is taken away must not be too big or the grain is weakened, but every cut gives a positive result and the advantage of the cut is the potential for the block of wood to become something else with a larger surface area and more function.”
Stone furniture in collaboration with Pedretti
The creation of the ‘dolomite’ chair
Elsewhere in the exhibition, Lamb experimented with the expressive possibilities of stone, with a collection of monolithic seats made of gray Tonalite granite and red dolomite rock. The collaboration with Pedretti was part of an exhibition by Lamb in Salon 94 in 2017: With the title “Boulders”, she focused on furniture made from these large stones that the designer had found on his trips to the mountains around Carisolo in northern Italy. ‘[…]From the rivers I collected a handful of the smooth, rounded pebbles of the same black and white speckled granite that was found in the quarry, ”recalled the designer, recalling his first visits to the region. “The power of the fast flowing river can be heard, felt and even tasted in the air, as the fine spray from the roaring Cascate di Nardis waterfall blows down the valley. The power of the river is also immediately apparent as it has shaped the landscape over millions of years, and perhaps only slightly faster, shaping the river bed and eroding the loose granite boulders as they tumble downstream until they become perfectly smooth, rounded boulders. ‘
Each piece in this new collection celebrates the complexity of natural stone, whose natural patterns are reminiscent of artificial terrazzo. In order to keep the material intact as a compact volume, Lamb used several stone carving techniques in the manufacture of his chairs: The ‘Wedge Chair’, which is made from a large slab of tonalite, is made using an ancient stone-splitting technique known as a feather and wedge , consisting of cutting the rock with metal wedges and spacers. The production of the “Campione” chair prototype now combines over a dozen techniques in which Lamb experimented and tested the versatility and history of stone processing.
Far from an isolated creative exercise, the process behind every collection and piece is a combination of focus and precision. Conclusion of Lamb “‘Every move is well thought out, precise and focused, but also requires a look at the macro, the whole, the endgame.’ §