The chair is the holy grail of objects for many designers, including Max Lamb (English, born 1980). He has created more than 400 seats, most of them produced in limited numbers due to the complexity of their manufacture and his interest in trying new things. Lamb’s uncompromising approach—and his embrace of materials precious and inexpensive, natural and synthetic—has changed very little since he graduated from London’s Royal College of Art in 2006. He has, for example, cast a stool from molten pewter on a beach in Cornwall, built a chair from quickly carved blocks of polystyrene foam in London, chopped down an entire ash tree in Yorkshire and divided it into 131 logs to sit on, and hauled giant chunks of marble from a quarry in Vermont, carving them into seating elements on site. The results are bespoke designs, each a unique take on a chair, stool, or bench.
By focusing on seats—one element of Lamb’s practice—this exhibition illuminates his working methods and passion for research, inquiry, and experimentation. A selection of chairs and stools is accompanied by photographs, maquettes, tools, and videos that illustrate how they were made. Interested first and foremost in the exercise of making, Lamb is intent on learning through doing, creating work in series, mastering new techniques and gaining an understanding of specific materials. By drawing associations between individual pieces, he suggests that each is part of a larger whole and calls attention not only to his methods but also to his interest in playing with modernist traditions of form and function through shifts in scale, size, shape, and material. Lamb’s seats—the product of his own relentless interrogations—spur us to question the objects that define our daily lives and to examine their essential role in shaping how we behave and interact with the world.
Max Lamb: Exercises in Seating is the inaugural exhibition of the Franke/Herro Design Series, which highlights the work of important emerging talent.