The Wonderful World Of Plywood At V&A

Plywood, V&A ★★★☆☆

Tabish Khan
By Tabish Khan Last edited 17 months ago

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The Wonderful World Of Plywood At V&A Plywood, V&A 3
A Ferrari race car made from plywood welcomes us into the exhibition. © Victoria and Albert Museum, London

After Bowie, McQueen and Underwear — what could the V&A possibly follow up with?

Plywood... yes, plywood. Think less IKEA catalogue and more revolutionary material.

This free exhibition explores the history of how layering wood created a stable, flexible and incredibly strong material. It was used to make racing cars, aeroplanes, a nuclear fallout shelter and chairs. Lots of chairs. It had its heyday before more modern materials overtook its use; it's now largely limited plywood use to furniture and skateboards.

The best concept on display is a prototype railway that was made out of plywood in 1867 New York. It even transported 75,000 passengers but was never made it into commercial production. What's equally impressive is how the cars don't look like they're made of plywood, hence why one is cut in cross section so we can see for ourselves.

Cars, aeroplanes and skateboards. All made from the same material.

This exhibition didn't manage to overawe us with wooden wonders, but definitely made us take a second look at this humble construction material.

Plywood: Material of the Modern World is on at V&A until 12 November. Entrance is free.


Last Updated 24 July 2017