Find products

Use our product finder to search for products and materials

Subscribe to our newsletter to receive news about events and exhibitions, innovation and materials on the latest building product innovations, case studies and more.
I have read and agree to the terms and conditions of usage and The Building Centre's Privacy Policy.

A play on plywood

24 Jan 2020

London-based designer, Orla Lawn, combines textile and woodworking techniques to create new takes on simple architectural surfaces. Lawn creates multi-coloured plywood panelling; transforming a once ordinary material into a vibrant one, with a distinctive finish.

Lawn’s colourful material, called Spelk! is inspired by materials popular in the 20th century  — the smooth finishes found in stone, metal and concrete.

Plywood is a simple material crafted from thin layers of wood veneers which are glued together. Each wooden section is rotated up to 90 degrees next to another. The composite material’s cross-graining characteristic reduces the material’s tendency to split, shrink and expand, whilst improving the overall strength and stability of the structure. Due to the wooden grains which run in various directions throughout the material, Spelk! is rigid and robust.

Unlike traditional plywood  — which is rough and unevenly textured — Lorn’s collection is smooth and soft to touch and is designed to challenge our preconceptions of recycled wooden products. Spelk! provides a contradictory sensory experience and prompts us to explore the relationship between texture and aesthetic. What initially started as an economical material, Lawn has transformed into a stylish and luxurious one.

From a distance, the wooden shards with their overlapping splashes of splintered colour flash lagoon-blue and enamel-white, resembling that of an abstract painting. On closer inspection, the material appears like a jigsaw puzzle, shattered with pigment; as if a denser material — such as marble — has smashed and been pieced back together again.

Spelk! can be used for flooring, furniture and walls. The material illustrates the benefit of the union of crafts with design and the unpredictable patterns within each piece make each of Lawn’s products unique.

To view more of Lawn’s work, visit her website.

Photo credit: Amin Musa.

Keep exploring