make your fridays matter with a well-read weekend

make your fridays matter

Max Lamb’s puzzle-like furniture ‘Echo’ at S94 Design  highlights the making process
'Echo' by Max Lamb at Salon 94 Design
Image: Courtesy of Salon 94 Design and Max Lamb

Max Lamb’s puzzle-like furniture ‘Echo’ at S94 Design highlights the making process

The British designer showcases new additions to ‘6 x 8 Series’ along with ‘Economy’ chairs at the New York-based gallery, communicating the process of making through tactile forms.

by Anushka Sharma
Published on : Apr 02, 2023

Dating back to 1915, a neo-Renaissance style townhouse, designed by Ogden Codman is ensconced at 3 East 89th Street—a prominent landmark in the city of New York. This historic structure that for long housed fine art, is now home to art and design gallery S94 Design, previously operated at 94th Street, the Bowery, and Freemans Alley. The elegant mansion donned in hues of the past exudes an artistic flair, much like the pieces it now hosts. Six exhibitions of contemporary design unfold within its time-honoured walls; with one of the design exhibitions mustering puzzle-like silhouettes contrived by British designer Max Lamb.

Titled Echo, the show exhibits the expansion of Lamb’s ‘6 x 8 Series’ with new benches and table designs. The furniture designer first unveiled the Western Red Cedar collection in 2021 as a set of furniture that expands from solid volumes of Western red cedar wood, measuring 6 x 8 inches in cross-section. Alongside the collection, are the most recent additions to Lamb's ‘Economy’ chairs in varying colour spectrums—from beige to green. The exhibition on view from February 23 to April 4, 2023, spotlights a creative process that is underpinned by the fundamentals of making: cutting, carving, sand casting, moulding, and folding.

The designer strives for a final object that communicates the process it endured—the aesthetic, only a byproduct of the making process. Subsequently, he designs objects—primarily furniture design, but also ceramic tableware and engineered marble—which are tactile and responsive, embodying an authentic reaction between the hand and the material. Lamb strips the idea of seating down to its very essence, treating furniture as an extension of the floor. His encounter with expanded polystyrene entails a similar procedure: snapping, wire-cutting, and carving vigorously with a hammer—a process that terminates only when the object is defined. Different hand processes interweave in his works: the wire-cut slabs of expanded polystyrene of his ‘Poly’ and ‘Poly Scrap’ furniture series are morphed into chair designs then coated with high-gloss spray-painted plastic; the raw grain texture of a cleft chestnut stool is completed with high-quality lacquer, applied by the Urushi master craftsmen of Wajima in Japan. These diverse surface treatments become a frame for the protagonist, the design process.

Each piece of the ‘6 x 8 Series’ begins as if it were a puzzle in reverse. Each segment is marked and cut, the pieces rearranged, then mortise and tenon uniting the different fragments into a functional chair, bench, table and stool design. “Each cut is mapped out and the consequence of the cut is processed before the incision is made, every cut and part generated is essential,” says Lamb. The designer then turned to prototyping each of these puzzles first in polystyrene, studying and honing each cut before replicating it in wood, infusing each work with his own unique solution.

After the first set of ‘6 x 8’ works came together, each combination was developed in both white polystyrene as a part of Lamb’s prototyping, as well as in Western red cedar. Evocative of Claes Oldenburg’s 'Ghost' versions of soft sculptures, Lamb has extended the ‘6 x 8 series’ to encompass each original polystyrene ghost, a 1:1 scale prototype marked with notes and measurements—a set of answers concealed behind a rubber polymer coating, rendering it functional. “What is taken away cannot be too big or the grain is weakened, but each cut yields a positive and the benefit of the cut is potential for the block of wood to become something else with a larger surface area with more function,” says Lamb. Each component of the ‘6 x 8 series’ possesses visual intricacy that nudges the viewer’s mind to try and piece together their assembly.

With an extensive repository of contemporary designs, the exhibition space teems with an expression that vacillates between sculptural art and functional design. Lamb’s exploration of different materials and his frequent collaborations with craftspeople and industries reiterates that even though he lacks expertise in craftsmanship, he is a diligent maker. With Echo, S94 Design hosts an irresistible energy that translates into compelling pieces that preserve the original vigour of the concept while moulding it through a pragmatic lens.

‘Echo’ by Max Lamb will be on view from February 23 to April 4, 2023, at S94 Design, 3 East 89th Street, New York.

What do you think?

Comments Added Successfully!