Plywood : A Material Story

Plywood : A Material Story

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'Both the exhibition and its splendid accompanying book, turn out to be not simply about this useful, strong material. Show and book teach us about human nature - drawn to newness, yet fearful of its consequences; conscious that progress is necessary but experienced at a price; nostalgic for a lost domain, a primordial forest, which is then tamed by being sliced, glued and disciplined for our convenience.' - Spectator

Plywood exhibition at the V&A

Plywood is an astonishingly versatile material, made by gluing together layers of cross-grained veneers, creating a pliable board that can be stronger than solid wood. Stylish and practical, plywood offers huge possibilities for experimental design, and it has been used to make a wide range of products, from aeroplanes, boats and automobiles to architecture and furniture. This book traces the history of plywood from its use in 18th-century furniture, through its emergence as an industrial product in the 19th century, to a material celebrated by 20th-century modernists such as Alvar Aalto and Charles and Ray Eames.

An ideal material for the digital age, plywood has become popular again in recent years and is widely used in contemporary design and manufacture. Produced to accompany an exhibition at the V&A, this book is the first comprehensive study of the history of plywood and its myriad applications throughout the ages, unveiling the stories behind objects that surround us and that we often take for granted.

  • Author: Christopher Wilk
  • Format: Hardcover
  • Pages: 240 pages
  • Language: English
  • ISBN: 978-0500519400
  • Dimensions: 25.5 x 21.0 cm

'From army planes to pharaohs’ coffins, the V&A’s eye-opening show tells the astonishing story of this age-old yet perennially modern material' - Guardian

'This staple of the building industry may not seem the most glamorous subject, but the sheer range of items from Second World War planes to Eames chairs makes for an exuberant celebration' - Architects Journal

'Both the exhibition and its splendid accompanying book, turn out to be not simply about this useful, strong material. Show and book teach us about human nature - drawn to newness, yet fearful of its consequences; conscious that progress is necessary but experienced at a price; nostalgic for a lost domain, a primordial forest, which is then tamed by being sliced, glued and disciplined for our convenience.' - Spectator

'From Ancient Egyptian mummy boxes to open-source digital construction, plywood has been on quite a journey. It’s certainly proved itself to be a survivor, as shown in the V&A’s lively new exhibition Plywood: Material of the Modern World, which celebrates this humble material’s global impact from the 1850s onwards' - Riba Journal