Beautiful, Ply(able)wood

Though the manufacturing of three dimensional veneer began in 2004 at Danzer in Germany, recent years have shown an advancement in technology of the material and an increase in demand for it, specifically within the furniture design industry. A quick summary of what 3D veneer actually is. By now most of us are familiar with the use of 2D veneer in furniture manufacturing, or in automobiles. In 3D form, multiple thinly sliced wood layers are bent and offset against each other, creating the concept of a third dimension. In this way, dramatically curved forms can be achieved when the layers are exposed to high heat (in the form of steam), bent and moulded, then glued. Ron Arad 's Three Skin Chair was one of the first pieces to demonstrate the material's pliability. 

Ron Arad's Three Skin Chair

Ron Arad's Three Skin Chair

More recently acclaimed Japanese architect, Tadao Ando designed the Dream Chair for Danish cabinetmakers, Carl Hansen & Søn as a tribute to designer, Hans J. Wegner. Like with the Three Skin Chair, its dramatic curves push the boundaries of what seems possible to craft out of real wood, and inspires reflection on what might soon be possible using new materials for industrial design.  

Tadao Ando's Dream Chair

Tadao Ando's Dream Chair

While hunting for recent design grads making use of innovative materials, I came across Tobias Nitsche's Boss Chair. Made of plywood, it combines traditional woodworking techniques with the use of 3D plywood veneer, crafted on the same machines used for solid plywood parts.

What is unique about Nitsche's chair is that its form is fairly simple, but its made using relatively new technology. We've seen designers like Ron Arad use 3D veneer to realize designs that are extreme in form and silhouette, which clearly exhibit the surprisingly flexible nature of the material. However, I find that the simplicity of the Boss Chair lets the material take more of the center stage, while giving the piece a special, hand-crafted quality. 

Tobias Nitsche's Boss Chair