2012 CH+D Award Winner for New Product Design

Alexander Purcell Rodrigues, Alexander Purcell Rodrigues Design Studio, Los Angeles
Stephanie Collection 

 

Plywood bench by Alexander Purcell Rodrigues

Plywood—a lumberyard staple that’s usually hidden from view—might seem an unlikely choice as the primary material in a sleek, modern furniture collection, but designer Alexander Purcell Rodrigues doesn’t see it that way. 

“I want people to appreciate plywood’s raw beauty,” says Purcell Rodrigues. By cutting through the stacked layers of wood and exposing them, the designer has coaxed character out of an unassuming medium for his Stephanie Collection of dining chairs, dining table, bench, lounge and coffee table. Inspired by the strata lines in the rock formations dotting the deserts near his Los Angeles home, Purcell Rodrigues took a computer-controlled router to untreated plywood pieces, resulting in a form that mimicks the texture of canyons and cliffs in a decidedly modern, high-tech way.

Although midcentury modernists such as Charles and Ray Eames popularized exposed plywood, the practice had been all but abandoned by furniture designers until the late 1980s. The Stephanie Collection melds environmental influences and 21st-century design techniques into what has become Purcell Rodrigues’ signature aesthetic. Acknowledging the evolution of his chosen medium, Purcell Rodrigues says, “In the past, plywood has been an intriguing vehicle for designers. Now, we can look at it again, this time through the eyes of modern technology.”

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