Plywood: Material, Process, Form

Butterfly Stools. 1956. All rights reserved, Sori Yanagi, 2011, United States. Molded plywood and metal, 15 1/2 x 17 3/8 x 12 1/8″ (39.4 x 44.1 x 30.8 cm). Manufactured by Tendo Co., Ltd., Tokyo. The Museum of Modern Art, New York. Gift of the designer, 1958.

Bent plywood is a modern sculptural medium used to create some of the most iconic furniture pieces of the mid-century modern movement. The process provided designers with a freedom of form and expression. The Museum of Modern Art in New York currently has an exhibition displaying some of these modern masterpieces, as well as photography which describes the unique process used to create bent plywood furniture. “Iconic furniture by Alvar Aalto, Charles and Ray Eames, Eero Saarinen, and Arne Jacobsen appear alongside organic platters by Tapio Wirkkala (1951), Sori Yanagi’s Butterfly Stool (1956), an architectural model for a prefabricated house by Marcel Breuer (1943), and experimental designs for plywood in the aeronautics industry”.

Lounge Chair. c. 1944. All rights reserved, Charles Eames and Ray Eames, 2011, United States. Molded plywood and steel rod, 28 3/4 x 30 1/8 x 30″ (73 x 76.5 x 76.2 cm). The Museum of Modern Art, New York. Gift of the designers, 1973.

Plywood: Material, Process and Form exhibit at MOMA New York, is on view until February 27, 2012.If you are interested in learning more about the process of bent plywood construction, I recommend Bent Ply, by Dung Ngo and Eric Pfeiffer. It delves into the process of this sculptural medium. ”Plywood is a material born of natural wood and formed by vigorous industrial processes that can assume the most organic of shapes through bending, laminating, and molding. Plywood truly fulfills that most modern of dreams: bridging the gap between technology and nature”. bent ply

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