For Design Miami Basel this year—which runs through this weekend at Hall 5, Messe Basel—New York's Johnson Trading Gallery is pleased to present new work by furniture design wunderkind Max Lamb. The London-based designer is known for his unconventional techniques, such as sandcasting and carving polystyrene, and, at worst, his latest pieces are simply more of the same.
"China Granite Project II"—"field work" per the wall text—is the sequel to a series he developed on a grant in China in 2009. Lamb preserves as much of the raw material as possible, while the deliberate sections impart both a sense of design and artifice.
It's pretty interesting stuff; thankfully, Lamb provides more images and a full write-up (about round one, back in April 2009) on his site.
The so-called "studio" work, on the other hand, consists of polystyrene coated in bronze, a technique he has explored for several years now; according to his description of the Bronze Poly Chair (2008):My Bronze Poly Chair is a series of chairs that I carve out of a block of low density expanded polystyrene by hand and then cast them in solid bronze using the 'lost foam casting' process. The fragile polystyrene chair requires due care and patience to sculpt away from the solid block of raw material, and only one bronze can be cast from each mould, thus each one is unique. Having already produced furniture in carved expanded polystyrene as well as sand-cast metal, I decided to combine the two processes to produce a new piece of work. The texture of carved polystyrene is incredible and I wanted to capture the beautiful texture in a far more permanent way. I found the lost foam casting process, typically used in the mass production of aluminium engine blocks etc, fascinating to research and employ. The fact that the polystyrene pattern is sacrificed during the casting process was very appealing and so I decided to exploit its ephemerality by using a labour intensive and unrepeatable process to make a series chairs with highly unique details and characteristics. The high fluid rate of molten bronze allows an exact replica of the polystyrene 'master' to be cast.
Bonus video of Lamb in action, sandcasting the "Hexagonal Pewter Stool":