On May 21st, 1872, a patent to the Gardner company (1863 - 1888) had been issued for the invention of a new chair seat, which was described as follows: "What I claim and desire to secure by Letters Patent, is - as a new article of manufacture a chair seat constructed of veneers of wood with grain running crosswise of each other and glued together ... ". It is also stated: "A slightly concave configuration may be given to the seat [...], the seats may be left solid, or perforated ...“

From the late 1870s to the 1880s there were a number of court proceedings concerning this patent, with the result that Gardner could not enforce its rights at the end.

Numerous companies were founded that used the "veneer wood" to produce furniture by themselves or to act as a supplier for the furniture industry. One of the largest in Europe was "Luterma" from Tallinn / Estonia, later “Venesta ". 90% of its production were plywood sheets. Besides "Luterma" the "Cawit" (wood industry Wittkowsky GmbH) company was in the first half of the 20th Century one of the leading manufacturers of plywood, that was not only a material for the furniture industry, but also was used for luggage, automobiles and aircrafts.

Beside sheets of plywood "Luterma" produced furniture, too. The collection holds the so-called "Kindergarten” chair, model Nr.4618. This chair is a folding chair, a type of furniture, where often plywood was used for the seat and the back. Another folding chair of this kind is B 756 / 2, a model that "Thonet Mundus" produced in 1930.

Folding chair SE18, designed in 1952 by Egon Eiermann shows the "spirit" of the 50s already.

In the 1950s in Scandinavia Arne Jacobsen (1902-1971) is dealing with the three-dimensional shaping of plywood. In 1952 he designs Model 3100, better known under the name "Ant". The seat and back are made of only one three-dimensionally molded plywood sheet. The plywood part and the three-legged base - made of metal - are centrally connected to the seat. Hard rubber parts, which are slid only on the legs, avoid direct contact of these two components, which makes the chair slightly flexible.

On the Milan Triennale in 1957 Jacobsen for first time presents a chair where the seat is mounted on a base made of laminated bent and intersecting legs. This chair was awarded the "Grand Prix", the name under which he still is sold - but today with a four-legged metal base.

In the 1950s there were numerous designers and firms operating in the field with three-dimensional molding of the seat shells made of plywood. Among the most interesting examples belong the two models: ST 664 and ST 665. ST 664 was designed in 1954 from Edelhard Harlis, ST 665 from Professor Haupt in 1959 both for "Thonet Frankenberg". The openings at the transition of the back to the seating look decorative, but are - also - due to technical reasons. Arne Jacobsen resolved the problem of this transition that he made the plywood shell at this point particularly narrow. The opposite is to be seen here. Material is removed from the middle so that the bending area goes to the wider and flatter radius to the outside.

Plywood Gallery

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