Plywood: Material of
The Modern World

Featuring groundbreaking pieces by Alvar Aalto, Marcel Breuer and Charles and Ray Eames, alongside an incredible range of objects. From cars to aeroplanes, furniture to architecture and hand-making to digital manufacture, this exhibition tells the story of how this often-overlooked material made the modern world, revolutionising design over the past 150 years.

The technique of layering cross-grained veneers to make a material stronger than solid wood has been around for a long time – as early as 2600 BC in ancient Egypt. But it was not until around the 1760s that furniture workshops in Britain began to use plywood techniques for specialist tasks, such as cut-out decorative patterns known as fretwork.

Fast forward to today and the rise of plywood in contemporary design has seen the development of new products that can be moulded in ways never previously possible. In addition, large-scale engineered woods, operating on similar principles to plywood, have increasingly been adopted by architects looking for more sustainable methods of construction.

Being an avid fan of plywood (a visit to Echo House reveals our love of the material – indulging its beauty and capabilities), Echo took great joy in supporting this exhibition with artworking, print production and installation.