The act of sitting, which Gerrit Rietveld's Red/Blue Chair reconfigured as active rather than passive, is represented in Naylor's Max Collection as an essay in the relationship between material and form, concept and production, optic and haptic. Naylor's designs embody what the anthropologist Claude Levi-Strauss termed a 'science of the concrete' together with a 'science of the abstract'. With the support of Lincoln University and the Arts and Humanities Board, Naylor has researched the use of cork as an upholstery and seating material. Reinvesting furniture with a weight and solidity that challenges the trend towards the lightweight, she has explored the idea of mass, of what constitutes the ‘body’ of a chair, and the effect of a body in/on the chair.
Rather than thinking of design simply as a drawing or plan which is put into production, the Max Collection has been constructed and built within sculptural convention. Using her knowledge of the qualities of materials together with an exploration of industrial and craft processes, the seating profile evolved out of her initial research with cork and results in an intriguing series of prototypes.
Light, in keeping with her philosophy of materials, is signified by translucent, apparently weightless white paper forms that are grounded or metaphorically ‘earthed’ by wood, metal or stone. The fluidity evident in the lighting forms, particularly her Theo Lights, is juxtaposed with the refined weight and opulence of the Max seats. The works’ grace arises out of a sensitive, thoughtful, elegant manipulation of ideas and materials that extends the Modernist project of ‘truth to materials’. Through this investigation of the form and the material of these chairs and lights Maxine Naylor presents a new visual and tactile experience of such everyday objects.
Linda Sandino 2002
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