Since I first heard about the British designer Max Lamb, I have been fascinated by his work: elemental and sometimes monumental, it combines a rough rawness with extreme smoothness; its beautiful proportions giving it an almost otherworldly air. But its apparent primitivism is deceptive. Watching Max make this piece in a live Design Performance on the Emirates Palace beach during last week's Abu Dhabi Art, I was struck by the intense physicality and focus it involved: the energy, the movement, the precise attention to detail (the latter literally at grain of sand level) as he built up, then compacted a mound of sand, carved out a precisely measured (by eye, not by ruler) grid pattern, and poured in the nine kilos of molten pewter.
Then came the moment when he dug away the sand and lifted out the finished piece: indescribable and truly moving. The day after watching him make this stool I had the great privilege of participating in the sand-casting workshop that Max led. There it became clear that, while the principle is almost absurdly simple (you really could try this at home, the risk of scalding with molten metal notwithstanding) the execution is anything but - and the pieces that Max produces are the fruit of years of experiment, practice and perfecting.
The proportions of this stool are lovely - the not-quite spindly, almost insect-like legs exactly right for the dimensions of the top; the lattic-like grid neither too fine nor too heavy - and the contrast is beautiful between the smooth shiny top and the organic, textured underside that still bears the mark of the sand it was made in. Most of all, seeing its designer bring it to life with his own hands makes it an object beyond compare.
Every pewter stool is a one-off. Similar pieces by Max Lamb currently sell for about US$10,000 (Dh36,700) through Johnson Trading Gallery, 490 Greenwich Street, New York, +1 212 925 1110, www.johnsontradinggallery.com