We’re so used to plastic that it might be hard to imagine our lives without all the objects that we can use every day thanks to its existence, starting with the casseroles in the kitchen and moving on to children’s toys, pieces in our cars, the mouse we use on our computer and even furniture. And when we’re talking about plastic furniture it’s very likely that your first association with the concept will be the famous white chair (occasionally green) that we’ve seen so much in so many gardens.
It’s not very hard to explain how it got this famous since it’s pretty strong, easy maintenance, easy to handle and, above all, cheap (in some parts of the world you can buy it for as little as 1$). But even for this common object the world had to work its way to progress.
Actually, it took about 25 years to get to today’s familiar shape and it began with the efforts of visionary designers, some time after The Second World War. Charles Eames and Eero Saarinen wanted to manufacture cheap plastic furniture and it was a good time to do that since, technologically speaking, there was a lot of progress when it came to plastics. Well, Eames and Saarinen created the famous “shell” shape, but at that time plastic (a questionable polyester with a dash of fiberglass) couldn’t have held the full weight of a person, so the legs were still made of metal.
It wasn’t until the 1960s, when plastics really evolved, that they could make decisive steps towards that once utopian dream of Eames – a full-bodied plastic chair. The first step was discovering the injection-mold method. Then they tried the compression-mold method but it wasn’t a really good option for mass productions.
Finally, in 1968, after almost ten years of experimenting with different kinds of plastics, Verner Panton made a breakthrough – he managed to create the first full-plastic chair, of course, thanks to injection molding. But his design was probably too bold for those times and it wasn’t until the 1970s that the shape we all know and recognize came to light.
Fortunately, things evolved even more after that and today we have much more resilient and much prettier chairs, in a wide variety of colors, with added UV protections and all sorts of great add-ons.
For example, Chairry’s portfolio includes:
– the T091 model, made of polypropylene and with a provocative design:
– the T159 model, obtained through a process of fiberglass injection:
– the T077 model, made of polypropylene and fiberglass: