Max Lamb’s work mentality could be described very roughly as a partiality for chairs, a respect for process and the design principles that respect engenders. Knowing about materials and their context through history is as important to him, and informs the use of them in his work so that a lot of Max’s designs – furniture and things – are as weighted by the stories of their creation as much as their physicality. We’re very pleased to have Max select five books for Bookshelf, including some making-thinking type-manuals for living, full to the brim with insight into his own practice.
SAS Survival Handbook John Wiseman
In order of books read first, this is the first book I read (in this list, not ever). I don’t remember when I actually first read it but judging by the red stamp on the inside cover suggesting the book belongs to “R.A.F. MOUNTBATTEN” where my father was stationed in 1986-88, I was probably around the age of seven or eight. I do remember setting my first snare-trap in the woods near our house. It was a spring snare as illustrated on page 97 and as per the instructions, I found a small sapling (probably an ash) near what I thought to be a rabbit trail, judging by the worn away grass and foliage. The spring snare is, apparently: “…good for animals such as rabbits and foxes and is ideally situated on the game trail by a natural bottleneck. When game is caught the trigger bar disengages and prey is lifted off the ground”. What on earth would I have done if my spring snare had worked? I am such a wimp when it comes to dead animals, even insects. It was my first and last snare trap but the book has been – and continues to be – very well read.
Industrial Art: Objects, Play and Thought in Danese Production Stefano Casciani
A real gem of a design book. Or is it an art book? If I was only allowed one book about design this would be it. Published in 1988, the second sentence of the first chapter reads: “There is renewed enthusiasm for manufacturing methods which incorporate a degree of craftsmanship to allow greater formal expression,” suggesting today’s attitude towards craft is either passé or only just catching up with the likes of Enzo Mari, Bruno Munari and Achille Castiglioni. Covering lighting, interiors, shop displays, shelving, children’s toys, vases, ashtrays, graphic image, water pitchers, glasses, bowls, coat-hooks and more, Industrial Art documents the history of Danese as “publisher” of works by these pioneering Italian designers, celebrating the timeless balance they found between intellectual expression, industrial production and craftsmanship; the designer’s art.
Questions of Travel: William Morris in Iceland Lavinia Greenlaw
Did you know that William Morris made more than one expedition to Iceland? He went quite simply to experience the country’s rugged wilderness and harsh conditions and to discover the simple, practical and adaptable ways of life required to thrive in this beautiful but unforgiving landscape. Morris wrote a personal journal describing the wonderful peculiarities of daily life he observed during his travels but it wasn’t until after his death that the journal was made public. Although I have never travelled to Iceland myself, reading this book, which offers just a glimpse of Morris’ full journal, has revealed an inner desire to escape there.
Where I lived, and What I Lived For Henry David Thoreau
Another book to inspire escapism. In 1845 Thoreau left his home and possessions and moved into the woods to live off the land and earn a keep for material essentials by the labour of his hands. He wanted to "live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life.” His escape lasted for two years, two months and two days, and it turns out he was only a couple of miles from the nearest village and his family home. But Thoreau’s account does beg the question, why do we hang onto and treasure all the unnecessary, inessential artifacts we accumulate during our lives like flotsam and jetsam smothering a beach? Why do I have over 15 sets of cutlery in my drawer, or 30 t-shirts in my cupboard, or a collection of ‘precious’ studio ceramics that I rarely use, or every sketchbook I have ever drawn in and all of my old school text books from the age of four? And why do I live in London with high living costs, no space to swing a cat, dusty dirty smoggy air to breathe, never ever a moment of silence and always a rat or another human being within arm’s reach? In short, because this is my life, I appreciate all of the aforementioned both good and bad, and I’m a natural hoarder. Thoreau’s account of his two years living in the woods is truly inspiring but, for now at least, a dream. Never say never.
A Potter’s Book Bernard Leach
I arrived at the wooden house built by JB Blunk – the most amazing yet humble house I have ever had the privilege of staying in – in Inverness, California, to begin a two month residency. Blunk was a sculptor, a woodworker and a potter. Everything, both inside and outside of the house and workshop, including the walls, was built by Blunk himself. In awe of his absolute creativity I set out to explore the two materials Blunk dedicated his life to. I picked up a chainsaw as if I had used one for years and so my productivity working with large logs of cypress wood came quickly. But pottery is a science as much as it is an art and without Blunk there to teach me I began my immersion into the science of ceramics by reading and re-reading and re-re-reading this book.