AVANT CRAFT Exhibition installation shots by Donald Smith. Max at home in my dining chair. 2012
Introduction. from Booklet 2012
This Exhibition has been gestating in my head for 20 years or more. I always hoped that one day I would have some of Max Clendinning’s furniture or access to it and having met him would be able to organise a show that would be his design seen through my eyes.
The title of the exhibition alludes to the idea that his furniture was ahead of its time, yet the material and construction methods used were quite traditional. It is a difficult trick, to make something that looks radical yet has no super new process or material in its making.
Seeing the interior of Max’s Canonbury house in the Decorative Arts Year Book 1966-7 Published by Studio Vista was an epiphany the cupboard on the cover and the chairs, tables and other furniture excited my interest in a visceral way. It is hard to pinpoint why the designs were so fascinating to me, but originality of the forms, married with simple plywood construction all added to a body of work that was greater in impact than their constitute parts.
I frequented Markets, boot sales and auctions and Clendinning’s furniture just did not show up. British designers like Robin Day, Ernest Race and Danish designers such as Arne Jacobson were ubiquitous, but here was something super rare.
I was always on the look out for Max’s designs, but it took many years to find anything by him, eventually by chance I did.
I don’t pretend that this is a comprehensive look at Max Clendinning’s work or even a biographical overview. I will leave that to more academic scholars. This exhibition is a look at his work through the eyes of an obsessive aficionado. I have only included the designs that I am particularly interested in. There is a lot more, Architecture, interior design and other furniture design that could have been included but a lack of space and funds dictate that we show only a cross section of his output. I would also like to Mention Ralph Adron Max’s partner. Who is a wonderful designer and artist in his own right, his paintings and designs appear on the walls in some of the images. I would like to have included Ralph’s work as well but time and financial constraints would not allow.