Today’s sprout: Laminated plywood. Made famous by the Eames in the early 60’s, plywood lamination has since made some major advances both in the material availability and the molding processes. I love the idea of breaking a material from its perceived shape or range of use. Here are some sweet examples of plywood laminations.
Let’s start with simple elegance. On the left is a chair designed in the 1930’s by Simple Furniture Ltd. On the right a chair designed as a college project by Nicole Hodsdon. I think both of these chairs show a beautiful curve and use the negative space under the arms as a focal point. the simplicity of construction is evident although anyone who has worked with bent laminations knows this is very deceptive and to create all the molds and ways to press these chairs is much more elaborate than it appears. This also goes to show that some aspects of this craft have not changed in 70 years.
Julia Krantz has taken plywood lamination to a whole new level with this flat stack and carve technique. It almost looks as though the piece has been carved from a single tree. The laminations are carefully cut to show the topography of the furniture and define the elevations of the piece.
This is named the Mobius chair by Frans Schrofer. It was an entry into a design contest, and I think is stunning. The way that the grain is used to denote various planes of the chairs surfaces is excellent. I am curious what the joints are that hold together the chair where these beautiful grains intersect.
The “Why Knot” bench is another cool example of pushing the limits of what plywood can do. Elyse Belanger has really shown what can be done with a typically very structural flat material.
I feel like bent plywood furniture has always been one of those processes used to produce a lot of one off pieces, but very few manufacturers have been extremely successful selling a mass produced version of the designs. The Eames were obviously one of the examples of a success selling a mass produced version of an exploration piece. Their bent plywood recliner shows that bent plywood can be mass manufactured. The above photos are of a product called ZA by Davis Furniture. I’ve had the pleasure of installing a few versions of this in office lobbies over the years, and it is always a hit. I have high hopes that this beautiful design will be the next great, in the small percentage of bent plywood pieces that go mainstream.
Check it out here: Davis ZA
Trans Alpin really stepped outside the box with this bent plywood concept named Wood.E. They have taken the idea of plywood furniture to a whole new level by creating an entire space and environment complete with integrated lighting.
Sticking with the theme of using plywood for an entire space rather than a single element, A. Kinney Court has integrated plywood into their point of purchase displays. I love when raw materials are showcased and Plywood really has a soul of its own. The most impressive part of these displays is that from the front view this looks like a very linear rigid use of plywood. As you come around to view from the side, you notice that the plywood has been bent to curve in unique ways, which really breaks the material from its stereotypical societal role.