Plastic and Design
Malleable, colourful, transparent, inflatable, soft, durable. These are just some of the characteristics of the most versatile material ever invented: I'm talking of plastic.
The name itself is an understatement to describe that category of materials whose potential is set by by the needs of the designer. Plastic has a huge potential and its limits only lie in the current knowledge and technology.
As a matter of fact, the term "plastic" derives from the Greek word plastikos meaning “suitable to be moulded".
There are two broad categories of plastics: thermoplastic and thermoset. Thermoplastic acquires malleability under the action of heat and if re-heated it softens and can be fused again. On the contrary, the thermosetting plastics may be melted and shaped, but once assumed a specific form after being solidified, they keep solid and can not be melted again.
Since the XIX century it has been used in an infinite variety of everyday or decorative objects.
Since the 60s, designers have had recourse more and more often to the world of plastic materials to express themselves. The design of the first plastic chair dates back to 1950 and it was a chair made of polycarbonate. It was necessary to wait for a time to see the first transparent objects, until in 1998 Philippe Starck designed La Marie for Kartell (in the main picture), the first completely transparent chair in the world, made of transparent polycarbonate.
From that moment on, the transparency ceased to be automatically associated to glass, beautiful but unsuitable for certain contexts for the high cost and fragility, and plastics such as methacrylate, the most transparent of all, were increasingly used. Methacrylate excels in rigidity, resistance, it is easily processable and can be produced in a wide range of colours: the perfect material to make tables, chairs, tables, lamps and sofas.
Today plastic, in its myriad of shapes, is present in every room of our home, our office or in the garden.
The Danish architect Verner Panton represents the other side of Scandinavian design. He preferred plastic and bright colour, together with the modern technologies of the 50s to organic forms and natural materials, typical of Scandinavian design. Panton Chair today celebrates its 50th birthday but it has withstood the changing tastes and fashions, and earned a place of honour in the history of design. The early models, made in 1967, were reinforced with polyester fiber-resin, and later by polyurethane foam and by Luran S. Up to the current less expensive version, produced by using completely recyclable polypropylene.
Plastic Fantastic Collection by Jasper van Grootel is entirely dedicated to the convenience, power and flexibility of plastic. Chairs for any occasion, sofas, tables, cabinets, lamps, chandeliers cushions, every item of this collection has got a layer of Real Skin, a special rubber which makes them resistant to any assault, waterproof and more comfortable to use.
The wide range of objects is available in a variety of colours, including gold.
And finally we find Kartell again. Usame is a magazine rack designed by Patricia Urquiola, a complex and articulate object which combines several functions. In fact, it be used as a side table, cabinet or, if necessary, as a bed tray. Suitable with every context and style, Usame is made of transparent or coloured PMMA, embellished with precious floral decorations, a clear reference to the illustrations of art déco.