max lamb exhibits two bodies of work at salon 94 design, one in western red cedar, where each piece begins as if a puzzle in reverse, and one in stone, from his ongoing work at pedretti. combining both ancient and modern making techniques, the chairs, stools, and benches on view demonstrate lamb’s direct, honest, and playful approach to materials. a piece of wood or a stone is regarded as a natural resource that took time to manifest, requiring patience and concentration to achieve the final result.all images courtesy of the artist and salon 94 design, new york. © max lamb
6×8 chair (western red cedar), 2021, western red cedar 34 x 15 x 22 inches (86.5 x 38 x 56 cm) (MLa 349)
‘max lamb: wood, stone’ is on view across salon 94 design’s first floor galleries at 3 east 89th street, new york, from july 1. for his new western red cedar pieces, lamb simply starts with large solid lengths of wood, measuring either 6×6” or 6×8”. as if a puzzle in reverse, each piece begins by hand marking and cutting every segment, rearranging the segments, then mortise and tenon jointing every fragment into a functional chair, stool, or bench. every action is a generative one as each cut makes two pieces, the primary and the negative.
‘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,’ notes the british designer. the wood used retains its original mass as lamb reconfigures its final volume, ensuring nothing is wasted aside from sawdust. for him, the making of this wood furniture is like a game of chess, with each move planned out and executed precisely. ‘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.’
monolithic stone chairs from four different series are exhibited in another room inside the gallery. rotating 360 tonalite boulders introduce lamb’s engineered steel bearings, while a rare pair of dolomite boulder chairs showcase the mountains’ geological composition, which resemble a natural terrazzo. utilizing over a dozen techniques, the ‘campione’ chair prototype showcases the versatility and history of stone working. finally, a ‘feather and wedge chair’, which begins as a slab of tonalite and is then hewed into a chair using the ancient stone splitting technique known as feather and wedge.