After being stuck in an engineering job that left her feeling like ‘a coma victim’, design engineer and artist Nicole Hodson decided it was time for a change and decided to switch things up a bit by studying furniture crafting techniques. Flash forward a few years later and her company Ciseal has become a go-to source for modern hand-crafted bent plywood furniture. For those interested in sprucing up their portfolio or simply want to start somewhere with bent plywood designs a la Charles and Ray Eames, Nicole takes us back in her shop to show us the process behind designing a prototype for a custom bent plywood bench.
Bent Plywood: Then and Now
Back in the early 1940s when Charles Eames was working at MGM designing sets, he and his wife Ray were also experimenting with wood-molding techniques involving plywood. Soon after, their discoveries led to a commission from the US Navy to develop a ‘collection’ of plywood stretchers, glider shells, and splints that were molded from heat and pressure. Eventually, the practice of bending plywood as a method of fabricating home goods would explode into some of the most iconic designs that the husband and wife team ever developed.
Today, makers like Nicole are bringing the same high level of craftsmanship to the mass customization generation with designs ranging from iPad stands to magazine racks and footstools to chairs and benches. In this video, Nicole shows us from beginning to end what happens early on in the design process before a full-scale product is made:
Check out more of Nicole’s collection of bent plywood furniture and accessories here.
(Images via Vimeo/Ciseal)