Material Innovation By Vancouver’s Studio Corelam

The Ripple table by Layer Design in London UK, has received a lot of attention across the design blogosphere since its release in 2014. What may be less known, is that it’s actually a Vancouver-based material manufacturer called Corelam that developed the innovative corrugated plywood material that made this design possible.

The material began as founder Christian Blyt’s masters thesis in the mid 90’s, from the simple inquiry, “What if plywood was corrugated like metal or cardboard or plastic?” He wanted to “do something different with ordinary, run-of-the-mill plywood, something to make it more interesting and capable of doing new things.” Fifteen years later in 2011, after extensive research and development, Corelam was launched.

Three thin layers of veneer – with resin-impregnated craft paper in between – go into a custom-built hydraulic press capable of exerting 400 tons of pressure across 34 moving cylinders. The 320 degree Fahrenheit heat of the press liquefies the resin, creating a thermal bond between layers of veneer that permanently holds the panels in their corrugated forms. The panels emerge from the press just 2.4mm thick (without the presence of VOCs or formaldehyde), are stronger than thicker plywood products, and possess superior rigidity.

It’s these material qualities that give the Ripple Table – which Layer Design describes as responding “to the dynamic living trends shaping the future” – its lightness and resilience. The sinusoidal form also makes the panels well-suited for acoustic applications, in addition to the obvious visual interest. There seems to be no shortage of applications for this Canadian-made innovation!

For now, Corelam is repositioning itself as a studio, making smaller consumer products like desk accessories, which you can browse in their online catalog.

We applaud this beautiful and functional Canadian innovation!

This article was written and researched by Miranda Corcoran, a designer based in Toronto, currently completing studies in Lighting Design at Ryerson University

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