British designer Max Lamb was inspired by a tree in his grandfather's garden in Yorkshire for his latest project – titled My Grandfather's Tree, appropriately – which is showing at London Design Festival this week.
The tree in question was an ash tree, ‘born’ in 1822 and so tall, the designer explains, that from its top you could see York Minster, a full 25 miles away from his grandfather’s house. But, in 2009, the tree started to rot and it became necessary to take it down, inspiring Lamb to give it a new life and shape with a furniture project.
To offer a design-led afterlife to the tree, Lamb collaborated with Jon Turnbull, who helped section it in a way respectful of its structure, branches, knots and crotches. ‘I wanted the tree to maintain the story told by its 187 annual growth rings,’ Lamb explains. The rings gave the tree’s history a well-documented identity, illustrating not only its growth but also the humidity and temperature of each of its epochs, the direction in which it grew and the climatic condition of each growing year.
The result of the collaboration is a collection of 131 pieces, including stools, small tables and chairs. Lamb’s participation in the Festival includes another project working with wood, establishing a testimony to his keen craftsman's sensibility.