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 airplanes, boats, and automobiles to architecture and furniture. This book traces the history of plywood from its use in eighteenth-century furniture, through its emergence as an industrial product in the nineteenth century, to a material celebrated by twentieth-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 manufacturing.
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.
Christopher Wilk is Keeper of Furniture, Textiles, and Fashion at the Victoria and Albert Museum. He is the author of books on Marcel Breuer, Frank Lloyd Wright, and on the Thonet furniture company.