Presented at New York’s Salon 94, ‘Wood, Stone’ features experimental furniture designs by Max Lamb in the two materials, exploring complex manufacturing techniques.
This marks his third solo show continuing a direct, honest, and playful approach to materials. Across the first floor galleries Lamb presents two bodies of work — one in Western Red Cedar, the other in stone from his ongoing work at Pedretti, each deftly employing both ancient and modern making techniques.
Lamb’s new Western Red Cedar works begin simply with large solid lengths of wood, measuring either 6×6” or 6×8”. Each piece begins as if a puzzle in reverse: hand marking and cutting every segment, rearranging the pieces, 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.” Aside from sawdust, the process doesn’t allow for any waste, with the wood retaining its original mass as Lamb reconfigures its final volume.
Lamb’s chairs possess a visual complexity that prompts the viewer’s mind to try and piece together their assembly. 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.” Lamb offers each work his own unique solution.
In another room sit monolithic stone chairs from four different series. Rotating 360 degrees Tonalite Boulders introducing Lamb’s engineered steel bearings. A rare pair of Dolomite boulder chairs showcase the geological composition of the Western Dolomite mountains, which resemble a natural terrazzo. The Campione chair prototype utilizes over a dozen techniques, sampling 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.
Patience and concentration is the key to both bodies of work. “Each move is considered, exact and focused whilst also requiring a view on the macro, the whole, the end game.” Lamb reminds us that a piece of wood or a stone is a natural resource that took time to manifest. All of the processes involved are long-the final product a reward.