The rising trend of eclectic design, in part, has instigated lucite’s comeback. Lucite lets the architecture and features of the room shine, such as in the kitchen pictured below that was designed by Park and Oak of Glen Ellyn, IL.
Christina Samatas, designer and founder of Park and Oak says, “We love incorporating lucite into our projects because it can provide a modern juxtaposition against a traditional backdrop, or can effortlessly disappear into a space while still making a major statement.” Christina notes that although lucite is on trend now “it has been used in great design for ages and is often the perfect addition to any space.”
Lucite: The Material
Whether you know it as acrylic, clear resin, or by its brand name Lucite, this influential material has irrevocably shaped the world of design. Since its introduction in the 1930s, lucite has found a place in jewelry products, glass substitutes and even art. In fact, the Moholy Nagy Collection features contemporary sculptures made of lucite at the Guggenheim Museum in New York City. Malleable in both style and structure, this unique material has become a staple in design.
Its appeal especially rings true in the field of furniture. With a transparent look and bendable structure, it boasts several uses from end tables to chairs to elegant handles on a chest or cabinet. At Gabby, we recognize this material’s potential. We respond by honoring its trend throughout history while still being innovative with our designs. Just as we use popular materials like faux horn, shagreen and bone uniquely, we incorporate lucite into our designs in a way that is refreshing and eclectic.
Evolution of Lucite
Although lucite was first developed in the early 1930s by Dupont and Roham & Haas, it did not gain momentum as a popular material until the 1950s. Furniture designers like artist Charles Hollis Jones helped catalize this commercialization. Since lucite had a straightforward purpose during World War II as material for military aircrafts and submarines, several high-profile artists of the time overlooked its potential in design. It was people like Jones who recognized acrylic’s application in furniture; this material’s high strength and weight equally prepared it to be a chic side chair as it had to be an airplane windshield. Jones’ work even caught the attention of major celebrities at the time such as Lucille Ball and Frank Sinatra.
Fast forward to the 1950s and 60s, where lucite grew in widespread esteem. Modern, geometric styles were the rage, and clear acrylic’s minimalistic, no nonsense look fit into this trending aesthetic. It was also useful for showcasing the best of contemporary style. It’s this versatility and multi-functional quality that has helped lucite transcend trends and continue to stay relevant.
Besides its sheer popularity and history in the furniture world, there are several reasons why Gabby embraces this clear acrylic material. Our rationale ranges from its chemical properties that keep a stable temperature to the way it bends light and illuminates any indoor space. However, it’s important to us to share with designers not just why we use it, but how we use it. Our design team always strives to use popular materials uniquely, and our incorporation of lucite in our products has earned its spot on the highlight reel.
Among our consistently bestselling products are lucite barstools and counterstools. While different motifs–from demilune to angular– characterize their bases, the concept among all of them is the same. We’ve created a contemporary design by pairing clear resin with brilliant metal accents. Gabby designer Jill Harlan describes this look as “floating and futuristic.” This combination of acrylic and hand-painted finishes on a metal base is unique to Gabby and has impressed customers since its debut.
Not only have we demonstrated lucite’s potential through unique pairings, but also through unconventional products. For example, our wooden Hazel Chest features acrylic rods that function as handles, complete with brushed brass details. Although lucite does not take center stage in this design, it helps this piece stand out as unique and transitional.
The Magnolia Nesting Tables showcase our love of lucite’s malleability. This unique property allows us to shape it with a resin mold, conveying a waterfall shape with tapered legs. Outlined in “antique gold leaf” finished metal, it features the same pairing as our barstools– a combination unique to Gabby.
“Lucite is great to use in a space because it seamlessly blends into a room and allows other pieces to really stand out,” says Gabby designer Hillary Park. “For Gabby, we’ll keep exploring how we can incorporate it in simple forms so that it maintains that style and versatility. You’ll also see us experiment with using it in unique applications such as furniture hardware and lighting accents.”