Exhibition: Plywood

This exhibition CLOSED on Sun, 12th Nov 2017

This exhibition has finished.

Coronavirus: Events may be cancelled and venues closed at short notice, you are advised to check on their websites before making a trip.

Cost: Free of Charge


Light, strong, affordable and versatile, plywood is the unlikely material behind an eclectic array of groundbreaking designs being celebrated at the V&A.

From the fastest and highest-flying aeroplane of WWII, the de Havilland Mosquito, to the downloadable self- assembly WikiHouse, more than 120 objects have been brought together in an exploration of how the often-overlooked product has helped create the modern world.

Fragments of layered board have been found in ancient Egyptian tombs, but it was the advent of mass production in the nineteenth century that saw plywood’s adaptability and potential fully exploited. Used to construct everything from a tube to house an experimental elevated railway in 1867 New York to hatboxes, tea chests, surfboards and skateboards, plywood has been embraced by designers, architects and engineers; each successive generation finding ever-more innovative ways to shape, mould, cut and fix it.

The exhibition explores the near-ubiquitous material’s global impact and history from the 1850s to the present day. The exhibition brings together significant new research with new acquisitions and objects that have never before been on public display.

Coupling objects drawn from the V&A's world class furniture, design and architecture collections with significant loans from across the globe, highlights include early experiments in plywood, such as a 1908 book printed during Ernest Shackleton’s Nimrod expedition to Antarctica and bound with plywood covers; celebrated pieces by modernist designers such as Alvar Aalto, Marcel Breuer, Grete Jalk, Robin Day and Charles and Ray Eames; and striking examples of transport design such as 1917 moulded canoe, a 1960s British racing car with plywood chassis, and some of the first ever surf and skate boards.

Interspersed throughout the displays are three ‘process’ moments that mark important milestones in the evolution of plywood manufacture: the invention of the rotary veneer cutter in the early 19th century; the advent of moulding techniques that inspired the ground- breaking forms of 1930s modernism; and plywood’s recent dominance as a material for CNC- cutting and digital manufacture.

In the John Madejski Garden, a cluster of ice skating shelters designed by Patkau Architects will be on display throughout the exhibition. Visitors are invited to take a seat in the structures which are made by bending flexible plywood sheets and attaching them to a timber frame to create sculptural forms. The shelters were originally designed to sit on a frozen river in Winnipeg, Canada and the installation is supported by the American Friends of the V&A.


Contact and Booking Details

More information at this website.

No need to book tickets - just turn up on the day.


Location

Victoria and Albert Museum,

Cromwell Road, London,
SW7 2RL

Map of Victoria and Albert Museum

 

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