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Among Design Set, Lucite Furniture Re-emerges as Clear Favorite for Accent Pieces

It’s no secret that transparency is a trick of the trade, so you’ll see right through these glamorous and durable chairs and tables

Lucite furniture helps provide an airy feel for an eclectic bathroom by La Jolla Interior Designers & Decorators Andrea May Hunter/Gatherer.
Lucite furniture helps provide an airy feel for an eclectic bathroom by La Jolla Interior Designers & Decorators Andrea May Hunter/Gatherer. (houzz.com photo)

In case you haven’t noticed, lucite is back.

Whether it’s the new focus on “micro living” as a recent National Public Radio story called it, or the esthetic of the semi-transparent thermoplastic itself, lucite furniture has made an exciting comeback in American home decor since it first became popular in the 1930s.

The appeal of lucite for designers today and those living in small spaces is that lucite pieces do not take up space visually. They help to give interiors a more spare and uncluttered look, and, while inherently interesting, they do not scream for attention.

Lucite pieces literally blend in to their surroundings. This said, just as everyone understands the saying, “If you want people to listen, whisper,” bringing a piece of lucite furniture into your home will turn heads.

Originally developed in the 1930s by DuPont and brought to market under the trademark “Plexiglas” by Rohm & Haas, lucite is a brand name for acrylic resin.

The same thing as plexiglas, furniture made of lucite is see-through and amazingly durable. During World War II, lucite and plexiglas were put to use by the U.S. military and used for submarine periscopes, airplane windshields and bomber noses.

After the war, the material was widely licensed, and furniture designers were drawn to its possibilities.

In recent years, Philippe Starck’s Louis Ghost Chair is perhaps the best-known use of the material, but designers have been fascinated by the material for decades and used it for furniture ranging from table lamps to dining tables.

A modern Louis Ghost Arm Chair is made of transparent acrylic and manufactured by Hampton Modern. (Hampton Modern photo)
A modern Louis Ghost Arm Chair is made of transparent acrylic and manufactured by Hampton Modern. (Hampton Modern photo)

Perhaps due to its association with Hollywood Regency decor, lucite has an aura of glamour to it.

Thanks to lucite’s resurgence, there are lucite pieces available in every price range today.

Ikea’s Tobias chair, priced under $100, imparts a modern, clean look to any interior. Wisteria features a number of acrylic pieces; most noteworthy is the company’s Leaning Bookshelf and sturdy-looking, but light Disappearing Console.

The Paris Apartment website’s Helena Rubinstein Chair harkens back to lucite’s early and most glamorous, no-holds-barred days.

While made of a tough material, it should be noted that lucite furniture requires special care.

Apartmenttherapy.com shared designer Patricia Gray’s advice for taking care of lucite: “Clean lucite with hot, soapy water using a soft cloth. The type of polishing cloth you use will make a difference. The ideal cloth is nonabrasive, absorbent and lint-free. To eliminate any chance of scratching lucite, use only disposable cloths. Reusable cloths can retain abrasive particles, but you won’t know for sure until the damage is done. Do not use sprays such as Windex or Fantastik on lucite.”

Whether you need a piece of furniture for a tight space or are eager for the airy glamour that a piece of lucite furniture can bring to an interior, this is an exciting time for this versatile material and those drawn to its unique appeal.

Noozhawk contributing writer Hilary Doubleday can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

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