Dezeen Magazine

Max Lamb crafts 60 handmade chairs in three days

As a performance, a game and a test of strength, British designer Max Lamb made 60 chairs by hand out of slabs of polystyrene over just three days.

Aptly named 60 Chairs, the project was an experiment by Lamb to explore the difficulties involved in a human production line that only uses one pair of hands.

Lamb crafted the chairs over three days
Lamb's 60 Chairs pictured together

According to the designer, the chairs show what happens when one person handcrafts a series of similar objects, rather than relying on the efficiency and accuracy of a machine.

"The making process was a constant counting game," said Lamb.

"So much repetition. So much counting. So much longing to get to chair number 60."

A close up of one of Lamb's chairs
A single chair in Lamb's series

Lamb constructed his chairs from five by 10-centimetre-thick polystyrene blocks then coated them in un-pigmented polyurethane rubber.

60 Chairs required meticulous forward-planning in order to ensure that Lamb met his target. Each slab of polystyrene produced a set of 12 chairs comprising 240 legs and 540 individual parts. Little material could be wasted.

A collection of Lamb's chairs
Each chair is crafted from a slab of polystyrene

The making process involved hot wire manual tools that were specifically designed to cut polystyrene.

Lamb's process involved a gruelling three days of cutting polystyrene, then glueing and assembling individual pieces to form chairs. Finally, Lamb sprayed the chairs with their high-gloss plastic.

The chairs are coated in un-pigmented polyurethane rubber
The chairs are sprayed in a high-gloss plastic coating

After the chairs were made, Lamb also individually numbered them, and finally photographed the chairs before wrapping and packing them up for sale.

The project took place in a box van that Lamb rented in order to transport his materials. With little space to construct the chairs, the designer opened up the back of the van and used it as a parked workshop.

Lamb used a rented box van as his workshop
Lamb completed the project from the back of a rented box-van-turned-workshop

Polystyrene is a versatile material that designers are using in myriad ways, especially to produce meaningful three-dimensional work that questions how we interact with the world around us.

Greek designer Savvas Laz created a sculptural chair from discarded Styrofoam packaging in order to highlight the issue of packaging waste, and Graham Hudson produced a temporary installation at London's Burberry flagship store of a robot that appeared to mill three-dimensional sculptures out of blocks of polystyrene.

Max Lamb is a British furniture designer whose recent projects include an installation of sculptures made from three-dimensional tiles for Japanese brand Tajimi Custom Tiles.

Photography is by Max Lamb.

More images

60 Chairs lined up
Lamb's 60 Chairs photographed together
The chairs are all handcrafted
Lamb's chairs stacked up in his rented box van workshop
A single polystyrene chair
The bottom of one of the polystyrene chairs, numbered by Lamb