Laminates Highlighted in Furniture Society Exhibit

A special exhibition at The Furniture Society’s annual conference features laminate furniture by top designers.

To showcase the design possibilities offered by laminate materials, Wilsonart International joined forces with The Furniture Society, a nonprofit organization of studio furnituremakers, to present a special exhibition at the society’s fourth annual conference. The conference, “Furniture 2000: Old and New Communities,” was held in Toronto, ONT, in June. It featured panel discussions and presentations by several studio furnituremakers, workshops and tours. There also was a two-man show of the work of John Makepeace, Dorset, England, and Stephen Hogbin, Wiarton, ONT, plus the Wilsonart-sponsored exhibit.

The 12 designers asked by Wilsonart to participate were picked in large part because they do not traditionally use laminate in their designs. The intent was to give them an opportunity to experiment with pattern and application, Wilsonart says.

“This project was about pushing the conceptual envelope of how laminate could be used, stretching beyond normal commercial uses,” says Peter Handler, a member of The Furniture Society’s board of trustees.

Three of the exhibition pieces are featured here. For additional information about The Furniture Society, phone (804) 973-1488 or visit its Web site at


    “Plastic laminate is and always has been an economical, utilitarian product. It is democrative and this, to me, is its strength,” says Patty Johnson, Toronto, ONT. “It should never be dressed up as something else; it should be celebrated in its own right for its own excellence.” Johnson used a Wilsonart custom laminate and Baltic birch plywood for her Universal Dining Table.  
      For “Oval-ture,” Mark del Guidice, Norwood, MA, says “I developed a Hieroglyphic vocabulary to express and provoke the interactive nature of objects and images to our lives...I took the opportunity to demonstrate the expressive properties of Wilsonart laminate by carving into the material, using it as a field upon which I composed a visual overture.” The piece features laminate, American walnut, chip-carved basswood, milk paint and varnish. “Exposure, via carving, of the underlying phenolic material plays into my exploration of the world within,” he adds. “HPL also lends itself to the curved surfaces of my design vocabulary.”
  Petra de Mooy, Toronto, ONT, says the concept for “52 Pick-Up” came about quickly. “The piece is a two-sided stacking cabinet with sliding doors. All the cabinets are attached with interlocking hardware so that the user may reconfigure the arrangement of the whole unit or perhaps delete a cabinet, if they so desire. All the doors are interchangeable and reversible. With the doors, one could have the option of creating a neutral exterior, a colored exterior or a combination of both. Or he or she may want to take the doors out to create a view through.” The piece features a custom laminate using original artwork supplied by Toronto artist Angela Leach, standard laminates, maple and a steel base.    

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