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Transparent furniture: A timeless interior design trend

Transparency has returned to the furnishings scene – quite literally! Refreshingly modern yet at the same time fun, see-through furniture is making an appearance both indoors and outdoors with pieces that fit elegantly into many interior design styles. Read on to find out what’s so special about this trend, what materials are used and how transparent furniture can be used to best effect.

Transparent furniture "Sol Side Table" from ClassiCon

The transparent Sol side tables from ClassiCon appear simple at first glance, but their coloured components keep morphing to form new silhouettes depending on the viewing angle, the way light hits them and how light and shadows interact. (Photo: Elias Hassos for ClassiCon)

Transparent furniture is back

The transparent look in interior design previously came to prominence in the 1970s and 1990s . Back then, too, these apparently timeless furnishings were very popular because of their ability to impart a feeling of harmony to a room. Materials like acrylic, glass or plastic were often used and combined in a variety of ways.

What’s special about this trend is that it can be reinterpreted time and time again and easily combined with modern interiors. Just as they have done in the past, today’s designers are creating see-through pieces largely in the form of tables, chairs, bench seats and decorative accessories. Developed for Castelli Piretti in the 1970s, the Plia folding chair by Giancarlo Piretti is one of the most famous classic designs – and a cult object that has stood the test of time.

What’s so special about plastic furniture?

Transparent furniture embodies the concept of dematerialisation. However, the materials used are actually very robust and durable. The term refers to the fantastical appearance of the designs, as seen in the XH-8096A plastic chair from Biaoxiang Furniture or the elegant Eros table by Pierangelo Gallotti for Gallotti&Radice. Thanks to these materials, it’s possible to create focal points while also maintaining an understated appearance.

In most cases, designers use the transparent plastic polymethyl methacrylate – abbreviated to PMMA – to manufacture their pieces. This material is often called acrylic or Plexiglas, the latter being a registered trade mark belonging to the manufacturer Evonik.

The synthetic material is heated and worked in liquid form, making it possible to create the sweeping shapes for which transparent and translucent furniture is known. This artistic styling is clear to see in the sculpture-like Sol Table by the design duo OrtegaGuijarro from ClassiCon .

"Borghi" bathtub by Antonio Lupi Design S.p.A

The Borghi bathtub from Antonio Lupi Design S.p.A. is crafted from the company’s proprietary Cristalmood liquid synthetic. (Photo: Antonio Lupi Design S.p.A)

Customised resin and glass furniture

Pieces of furniture made from resin or glass are also transparent, but somewhat less robust. The stunning effects they produce are similar to those of plastic objects. The Bespoke glass manufactured by Baranska Design plays imaginatively with light and shadow. As well as designs in various colours, the company also offers different glass thicknesses. The material is mainly used for tabletops and worktops in kitchens and living rooms.

Italian design studio Antonio Lupi has a particular reputation for innovative research and development. They have come up with a unique transparent material, which they have called Cristalmood . This liquid synthetic resin has primarily been put to use in bathrooms. Whether bathtubs or washbasins, the transparent designs are attracting attention thanks to their ergonomic shapes and, in the case of pieces like the Borghi bathtub from Antonio Lupi , they exude a sense of fabulous luxury, too.

Resin is another material that also deserves attention. Synthetic resin is ideal as a finish for tabletops or other pieces of wooden furniture. It can also be dyed to create splashes of colour for bespoke designs.

Transparent furniture with a big impact

Transparent or translucent furnishing designs combine a modern look with retro style, giving rooms a timeless appearance. A shot of coolness blends with a certain buoyant ease – which is why the trend is so popular. Rooms feel welcoming, even if the interior is otherwise dark or benefits from little natural light.

Plastic or glass furniture and translucent decorative objects are often found in minimalist domestic interiors. This is where they come into their own. Their enchanting appearance draws the eye without being intrusive. What’s also great is that several pieces of see-through furniture can be combined in one room.

Designing rooms with a clear vision

Transparent furniture has proven itself over many decades, so it’s well worth keeping up with this interior trend. There will continue to be many innovative see-through designs to discover in the future, too. Demand is and will remain strong because transparent tables, chairs and accessories appeal to so many tastes. Thanks to the countless options for combining the various pieces, there’s plenty of room for imaginative ideas – whether indoors or outdoors. When it comes to innovative see-through materials, you would do well to keep your eyes open. We’re excited to see what will follow on from plastic, acrylic, glass, resin and synthetic resin.

In any case, you will be sure to experience transparency at imm cologne 2022 from 17 to 23 January – with Antonio Lupi Design S.p.A. featuring among the exhibitors. Don’t miss it!