Co.Design: Plywood Revolution

In her article, “How Plywood Revolutionized Design And Changed The World (No, Really!)”, Co.Design senior editor Suzanne Labarre reflects on a mid-20th century “modern” material after her visit to Plywood: Material, Process, Form, an ongoing exhibit at New York MoMA:

That plain little sandwich of lumber and glue–with its origins in ancient Egypt and its reinvention under the auspices of 20th-century military research–gave designers from Alvar Aalto to Charles and Ray Eames the raw material with which to shape some of the most iconic furniture of the past 100 years.

Those products represent a time when designers were experimenting and innovating with materials. The role plywood has played in the history of product design is significant and underscored by how expensive Eames and Aalto’s furniture are today. Labarre notes the irony that while they might have been developed the common man in mind, few of us can afford them.


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