The Dream of Free Form (1998)
“Tree has allways been, and may allways be, our number one furniture material. It’s easy to shape, is not very heavy, and varm and comfortable to touch. All these qualities follows, of course, the material trough lamination, but it grows so much stronger and can thus be formed in so many new and different ways. For us designers, laminated wood is an interesting material to work with, – with more and more opportunities.”
Elsa og Nordahl Solheim, designers.
Trough the exhibition “The dream of free form”, we show how the lamination technique has marked Norwegian chair production from the 1950s and up till today. We present both single furniture pieces, semi-finished products and production equiptments to give you an impression of which challenges the designers and producers have solved within this technique.
It is reason to believe that it’s the technology of laminationthat has secured wood such a prominent place in Norwegian furniture production today. When the technology first became available to Norwegian furniture manufacturer, other materials like metal and plastic also available. Haakon Stenstadvold wrote an article in “Bonytt – 1949” after an exhibition containing new furniture at the Museum of Modern Art in New York, where he apologised because none of the Norwegian designers were good enough. He wrote about the new fabrics that producers from other countries started using right after the war: “The new materials that have been introduced seems to be plastic, rubberspunch, steel and shaped plywood.” He apologised for the Norwegian apparent disinterest in experimentation with the new techniques, such as gluing and shaping of plywood. Not long after Stenstadvold had written this, many Norwegian producers took on the challenge, and many chose wood as their main material. Through laminating the wood, that is to say gluing different numbers of sheets of veneer in together, the producers achieved improved material qualities such as strenght, elegance, elasticity. Whilst being able to stick to the wood-tradition in Norway they could now achieve create shapes impossible a few years back. Wooden furniture had long been preferred among Norwegian consumers. Slowly Norwegian laminated furniture have gained international recognition because of this combination of natural material and userfriendly functionality.
With this development in laminating technology and computer-assisted design, it is only our imagination that limit our design and manufacturing possibilities. In this exhibition we show you through concrete examples how the limits of possibility with regard to laminated wood is continuously are moveld. We also focus on where Norwegian furniture-production stand today, and we want to give inspiration to the development in the future on this area.