I used to think lucite furniture was kitsch but I’ve had a recent change of heart. We have a lucite and glass coffee table in our showroom and I love how this piece of furniture doesn’t visually crowd the space and hide the carpet below. What’s also great about transparent lucite and glass furniture is that you can incorporate it into most any decor. We have ours on a beautiful antique carpet surrounded by traditional arm chairs and a brown leather sofa. It can be the visual glue to seamlessly bind past with present.
I inquired with Graydon Yearick, principle of NYC based Graydon Yearick Architect, PLLC, what he thought about clear furniture; “I love lucite furniture. I love mixing it with antiques, the more ornate the better. A lucite coffee table with a Victorian settee… it’s also super in small spaces, or spaces where you want a minimalist affect. And it’s great in ornate spaces because it disappears and let’s the architecture and design take center stage. Mostly, it’s wonderful because it harkens back to the groovy time period of Antonioni, Kubrick and Warhol, an era when every preconception was being challenged.”
A little history about this clear wonder, it’s trademarked as Lucite, Plexiglas, Acrivue and, in Europe, Perspex. Thermoplastic furniture became popular in the 1960’s and 1970’s. The most respected designer of this medium is Charles Hollis Jones-called “a pioneer in acrylic design” by the LA Times. His firm, CHJ Designs, opened in LA in the early 1970s. Jones designed pieces which were purchased by numerous celebrities, among them Frank Sinatra, Diana Ross, Dean Martin, Johnny Carson, and Tennessee Williams. He created small accessories, such as the acrylic and chrome waste bins and tissue boxes designed for Buffy Chandler. Frank Sinatra ordered forty tissue holders and wastepaper baskets for his Palm Springs residence after seeing them in an LA showroom. Christie’s in Beverly Hills offered eighty pieces of CHJ designed pieces in their “Innovators of 20th Century Style” auction in 2001.
I didn’t realize how many different types of pieces were manufactured; chairs, tables, lamps, stool and bar carts are aplenty from vintage dealers and it’s worked it’s way back into the limelight of today’s modern decor. Younger generations coming into inherited antiques can add a fresh twist to an otherwise stuffy decor with a clear piece, whether a table, chair or accessory such as a lamp base or bar cart. A single piece in a room of antique furniture will lighten the space with a sense of playful sophistication. So keep lookout for a piece for yourself at auctions and estates sales. However, too much transparency will time-warp you to the past where you’ll clearly miss the intended look you’re trying to achieve.