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  • Plytube Group, Seongyong Lee, 2008-2010. Crafts Council Collection [2013.9, HC1050 and 2013.7). Photo: Nick Moss

Plytube Tables and Stool by Seongyong Lee

Chosen by Annabelle Campbell, Head of Exhibitions and Collections at the Crafts Council

We ask makers, curators, designers, creative practitioners and the Crafts Council team to select their favourite object from the Crafts Council Collection and to tell us why.

With bentwood and steam bending, Lee creates furniture that is simple in form, and has a clean, delicate lines with unique joints where hollow tubes intersect

With the V&A currently celebrating Plywood, we have excuse (not that we need one) to celebrate some works in the Crafts Council collections, in particular, to reflect on utter gorgeousness of the work by Songyong Lee.

Plywood is often considered ordinary, utilitarian and simple. Yet, the story of this material dates back to ancient Egypt.  It’s a story that features  the father of the founder of Nobel Awards, WW2, Modernist design and innovation in transport design, not to mention architecture. It’s this trajectory of understated innovation, designer Seongyong Lee continues with his PlyTube collection.

Material innovation is central to much contemporary craft practice, Lee combines handcrafting skills and a strong understanding of the principles of mass production: "I wanted to find the right point of contact between mass production and craft to make the next step in creating a better everyday life". The result lies in designs that are structurally logical, intuitive to use, and beautiful to look at. 

PlyTube is not only a successful application of a new process, taking from both the production of plywood and cardboard tubes, but with bentwood and steam bending, Lee creates furniture that is simple in form, and has a clean, delicate lines with unique joints where hollow tubes intersect. Paradoxically, these give strength, creating structural stability, yet keeping the work light and unfussy, and adding to the clean minimal aesthetic.

Furniture designer, Michael Marriott is also a fan, including the work in Raw Craft, the exhibition Marriott curated for Crafts Council in 2012. "Inspired after investigating the manufacture of cardboard tubes, these pieces are in a way illustrations of the potential of a new type of sub-material: plywood tubes. Made in the same way as card ones, but laboriously handcrafted with some simple but sophisticated and ingenious thinking and jig making. This marks a new type of craft making inspired by industrial machinery and ingenuity."

Indeed!

View Seongyong Lee's Plytube Tables and Stool in the Collections Online

Plywood: Material of the Modern World is showing at the V&A until 12 November 2017.

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