Plywood is known for its strength and value for money, but it can also be a beautiful material for furniture-making. Made up of criss-crossing layers of wood veneers, plywood ends up stronger than wood as it distributes along-the-grain strength in both directions. Although it's been around for much longer, its aesthetic qualities were first put to use in the forties and fifties by American furniture designers Charles and Ray Eames and as well as Danish greats Arne Jacobsen and Hans Wegner. Over half a century later, plywood is having a renaissance. A quick Pinterest search reveals endless modern furniture ideas, and companies such as Uncommon Projects, Make Furniture and Plyroom are all championing plywood design. So why is it making a comeback?
Plywood can be bought in many different wood veneers including oak, cherry, walnut and cedar- all woods which are known for their grains and colour. In short the same aesthetic effect can be achieved with a much cheaper and more durable material but the advantages do not end there! The standard thicknesses allow for different woods to be easily combined. The flat surface means that plywood can be evenly painted for a more fun finish. And finally, my personal favourite thing about plywood furniture is that rather than try and hide the edges (as you might with a veneered panel) the visible wood layers can be great to break up a piece of furniture. Putting a bevel or a round on the edge of plywood can bring this out even more and make for some really interesting design.
The humble plywood has made a welcome return!