Plywood is a relatively simple engineered material, created by gluing together thin layers of wood veneer. And while it once lacked sex appeal to consumers, it is currently experiencing a renaissance among makers and designers for its versatility. The Victoria and Albert Museum in London is celebrating the history and applications of plywood in its newest exhibition Plywood: Material of the Modern World, set to open on July 15.
“Plywood is such a common, everyday material that most people barely notice when it is used. One could say that it has been hidden in plain sight." said co-curator Christopher Wilk in a press release. "Since Victorian times, it has been one of the most popular and versatile materials used in manufacturing, and by designers and architects. Today it is more popular than ever.”
The exhibit will bring together more than 120 objects, including those from the museum's existing furniture and design collections as well as "early experiments in plywood," such as a 1908 plywood-bound book, a 1917 moulded canoe, a 1960s plywood-framed racing car, samples of first-ever surf- and skateboards, and pieces by designers such as Alvar Aalto, Marcel Breuer, Grete Jalk, Robin Day, and Charles and Ray Eames.
Sponsored by furniture company Made.com, Plywood also chronicles key manufacturing innovations including the invention of the rotary veneer cutter, various moudling techniques, as well as CNC milling and digital manufacturing. The exhibit will also feature ice-skating structures made from bent plywood sheets designed by 2014 ARCHITECT R+D award-winner Patkau Architects, based in Vancouver, British Columbia.
'Plywood: Material of the Modern World' will be on display until Nov. 12.