Blog #5: Max Clendinning

Blog #6 – Post Wartime

By: Valerie Cochrane

Contemporary Culture & Design

Focus: Max Clendinning


The designer Max Clendinning caught my attention through his colourful choices in furniture and décor throughout a space. His unique style focuses more on the space which you are in opposed to the furniture within it. Max Clendinning was born in County Armagh, Northern Ireland in 1924. His passion growing up was architecture and interior design and how to mix the two together without being over dramatic on certain areas. As a designer he displayed his artworks and furniture in shows to inspire people to think about what design really is. Design is something that changes all the time, so it can never be wrong no matter how bold and eclectic it may be. One of his most well-known works of art is his own personal residence in London, England (see Figure 1). His objective was to keep the design simple and minimal but draw in people’s attention through colour and pattern. 

ImageFigure 1: Max Clendinning Residence, London

Most of Max Clendinning’s furniture pieces are quite simple. They show their use and function without being overly detailed with designs. Some of the geometric forms provide enough unique qualities with just a solid coloured paint palette (see Figure 2). His goal was to show people how to be minimalists. His first main design concept was to try and eliminate furniture altogether and have people make use of the space they are in by sitting on the floors. Max’s idea was to sculpt the space into the furniture instead of placing furniture within it. This idea concept is most definitely unique but not overly practical. With people having so many limitations and ailments it is not reasonable to have a space with fixed furniture that is sculpted into the room. The concept needed to be reversed so that the furniture adapts to us and our needs. He realized his design faults and decided to change his works to fit society. The colour palettes on the walls provide depth and dimension as well as the furniture’s harsh corners being rounded off. It was computer lettering at the time that really inspired him to play around with all curves and angular lines. People were attracted to specific lettering so why wouldn’t they be attracted to furniture with the same features. 

ImageFigure 2: Simple Furniture Design

Max Clendenning wanted to design homes as an oasis, but not a typical relaxing oasis. He wanted to create a place where you could go and feel like you were living another life. A break from reality maybe. The outside world can be harsh and busy and not focused on design and colour. Most people want to go home and relax but the view would still the same, with bland and uninspiring décor. I understand his thinking process of wanting to give people a feeling of something new in their home. I feel he had a very forward way of thinking which I like. Our society seems to be too scared of being anything other than ordinary, which is why bold designs do not get integrated into our world. He was on the right track though with creating unique furniture that was so simple and minimal and just use colour as a pull factor. Our lives can get so busy that we forget how much material items we acquire. I personally am intrigued with his designs and creative thinking because it is original.


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