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Wood Furniture: 10 Plywood Works of Contemporary Furniture – Plywood was made for building. Engineered for strength, it resists warping, cracking and twisting and provides a skeleton for everything from shingles to tile and drywall. As thanks for its utility and ubiquity, plywood gets covered up and discarded. Peer inside any construction site dumpster and you’ll find heaps of the useful material wasting away.
For decades, plywood has found a place in furniture design, and not just for drawer bottoms and cabinet backs. Industrious and daring designers eager to make new shapes and molds have long loved plywood’s easy-going nature and willingness to bend, flex and support. Here’s a roundup of 10 great pieces of plywood furniture. Some were made with the newest tools and latest design ideas, while others were built with tried-and-true techniques.
1. Eames Molded Plywood Lounge Chair
First built in 1946 the Eames Molded Plywood Lounge Chair is today heralded as one of the most famous chairs of the century. It’s ergonomic and elegantly engineered to conform to a seated body. A faithful recreation of the lounge was commissioned by Herman Miller and is still available, a testament to the chair’s timeless design and utility.
2. Offi Scando Table
Offi’s Scando Table provides a simple, streamlined furniture solution. Designed by Eric Pfeiffer from molded plywood, the low-profile table has exposed edges and obvious grains running its length. The coveted table ends with a bend, which forms a pocket for magazines and books.
3. Breakplane Table
Detroit designer Andy Kem’s Breakplane Table is a precise, CNC-cut design made from interlocking, baltic birch plywood. The legs have tabs and slots that join with the tabletop, which is cut and formed to create structural openings. [pic via]
4. Cabinetry by Kerf Designs
Named after a notch made in wood, Kerf Designs has carved out high regard for their furniture and custom cabinetry. Inspired by Shaker building principles, the furniture-makers make substantial pieces that are still quirky, colorful and charming. You won’t fight any hollow core in Kerf’s Seattle workshop because they actually make their own plywood.
5. New Wave Line Seating
Brooklyn artist Susan Woods’ New Wave Line of seating redefines what can be plied from poplar plywood. Pieces like her Working Wave (shown above) are more sculptural than structural, but Woods works to ensure her art finds use and utility in places like the W Hotel in New York and the VIP lounge at the Newark Airport.
6. Momo Bench
The Momo Bench is what happens when you combine Japanese minimalism with Dutch furniture design. Created by Osaka-born Kyoko Inoda and Denmark’s Nils Sveje, the simple molded plywood bench is shaped across a laser-cut steel frame. The bench has versions in maple, white oak, walnut or black-stained ash.
7. Urban Lounge
Outdoor furniture is useful, but usually ugly and uncomfortable. Chicago-based designer Scott Collins’ Urban Lounge is neither. Cut and molded from a single piece of plywood, Collins’ ingenious design is ergonomic, lightweight and made with a method that leaves little wasted material.
8. Volta Bench
Shin and Tomoko Azumi and collaborated for the Volta Bench, which was built for Italian design outfit La Palma. The bench was made from one piece of plywood, but a closer look reveals depth and dimension uncommon in even solid-wood furniture. The bent plywood shell gives the bench a pleasing a pleasing curve and adds strength without distracting braces. Surprisingly, the sparse Volta can support two to three sitters.
9. Kristian Vedel Child’s Chair
Danish master and Scandinavian Design Movement leader Kristian Vedel took furniture seriously, even pieces meant for kids. His cylindrical plywood Child’s Chair is slotted for adjustable seating, which are held fast without the use of fasteners. A recreation of the chair is around today, which like the original, can be reconfigured to serve as a chair, table or highchair.
10. Poltrona Suave Lounge Chair
Brazil’s Julia Krantz creates her pieces by stacking and laminating sheets of plywood and shapes seating like a relief. With its grain, sheen and organic undulations, the Poltrona Suave Chair looks whittled from a solid piece of wood, but vertical lines hint at its plied origins.
Plywood is a forgiving furniture material, which makes it perfect for do-it-yourselfers. With a few simple tools, it’s really easy to built your own contemporary furnishings from materials widely available at any big-box home improvement store… or dimly-lit scrap pile.
Want to test your own creativity with plywood? Here are a few easy DIY projects from around the web: