Rob Robson found his passion for plywood in London under the guidance of architects and interior designers ten years ago. Now the self-taught carpenter makes furniture and customized fixtures from WISA plywood while sharing his enthusiasm in Europe’s largest plywood-themed social media group.
A project involving a wardrobe and a kitchen in London’s famous Notting Hill – this marked the start for Rob Robson’s passionate exploration of plywood aesthetics. Having moved from Poland to London in search of new job opportunities and cultural adventure, Rob first met with the idea of making plywood furniture while working with English and Irish architects and interior designers a decade ago. After that, it was clear that he wanted to specialize in plywood furniture and do it for living.
“The aesthetics of plywood and the possibilities to play endlessly with the cross-sectional pattern fascinated me. Plywood became a passion that only brings me pleasure and joy,” Rob says.
High-quality plywood was always available in the UK and the product was well known. Therefore, Rob was shocked when he returned to Poland five years ago.
“Finding good plywood was close to a miracle. I made hundreds of phone calls, travelled all over the country, and searched for months for a vendor that could supply high-quality plywood. In Poland, economic reasons often decide about the choice and therefore there is not enough quality plywood available for making furniture.”
Social media helped discover WISA-Birch supplier
The breakthrough came in April 2020. Rob founded the Facebook group świat sklejki (the world of plywood) to increase plywood awareness and share experiences with other plywood enthusiasts. The group is now the largest plywood-themed social media group in Europe. Shortly afterwards, he set up a group for the sale and exchange of plywood, świat sklejki - giełda, where plywood producers and sellers could present their offerings. Together these two groups have more than 20,000 members.
“The Facebook groups turned out to be a jackpot! This is how I met my supplier and found what I was looking for – WISA-Birch plywood. Beautiful birch plywood without inserts and with a fantastic surface as well as perfect cross-section and a very aesthetic birch grain pattern,” Rob describes.
Today, Rob customizes versatile chairs, tables, shelves, cabinets, furniture, and kitchens from WISA-Birch and WISA-Multiwall. In addition to appearance and usability, Rob appreciates the sustainability of WISA plywood. He himself wants to make the most ecologically sustainable and beautiful products possible. To minimize waste, Rob recycles a large number of offcuts from larger projects to smaller ones.
“Nature must be respected. Instead of making something cheap and short-lasting, you should create safe and sustainable products. Plywood as a material lasts for years when it is made properly,” he emphasizes.
Designers have found plywood
The popularity of the Facebook groups was no surprise to Rob as he thinks they came at the right moment and responded to a need that was already there. Interest in plywood is growing in Poland and the groups provide a platform where enthusiasts can discuss and share experiences in an open-minded and respectful environment.
“When I started, I felt like a plywood pioneer. Now plywood is getting trendy, and designers have started to design spaces using this material,” Rob has noticed.
“I am optimistic about the future. With a good attitude and passion, we can do a lot.”
Photo: Rob Robson.