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.
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.
Lounge Chair. 1934. All rights reserved, Gerald Summers, 2011, United States. Bent birch plywood with pigmented lacquer, 29 5/8 x 23 1/2 x 35″ (75.2 x 59.7 x 88.9 cm). Manufactured by Makers of Simple Furniture, Ltd., London. The Museum of Modern Art, New York. Barbara Jakobson Purchase Fund and Peter Norton Purchase Fund and Gift of Robert and Joyce Menschel, 2000.
“Plywood,” explained Popular Science in 1948, “is a layercake of lumber and glue.” In the history of design, plywood is also an important modern material that has given 20th-century designers of everyday objects, furniture, and even architecture greater flexibility in shaping modern forms at an industrial scale. This installation features examples, drawn from MoMA’s collection, of modern designs that take advantage of the formal and aesthetic possibilities offered by plywood, from around 1930 through the 1950s. Archival photographs illuminate the process of design and manufacture in plywood. 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.
Exhibition: Plywood: Material, Process, Form, February 2 – Ongoing, at MoMA, New York