Creating the mould

The Wein acrylic chair is an elegant and modern take on a Victorian design. The amber tint echoes the wooden construction of the original (€249 at Casey's Furniture)

Carol O’Callaghan finds that there there’s nothing so natural as plastic.

ASTIC furniture may not sound like the most attractive thing to have in your home, especially if your only experience of it is the very affordable purchase of a white table and chair set for your patio that eventually fell foul of mould.

But as an interior product, plastic and acrylic furniture has become desirable thanks to French designer Philippe Starck, whose Ghost chair, modelled on Louis XV baroque, gave a much-copied style a contemporary aesthetic.

Other designers have continued the theme so it’s now possible to get well-known chair styles in plastic that are not quite imitations but echo the original design. The key to their success is that the plastic resins used are very strong, and clear to the point of looking like glass from a distance.

As a practical piece of furniture one of the great advantages is they’re very lightweight, making them easy to move in and out from a table. More often than not they stack easily, which is a blessing in smaller spaces, and their transparency gives a lighter feel so your compact room doesn’t look over-crowded.You’re not confined to a completely transparent finish either. Just about any colour is available, including tints of brown to reflect the wooden originals.

Used as dining and kitchen chairs, they won’t hide your lovely table — the bugbear of anyone who bought solid leather high-backed chairs that now create a box around the table and can be heavy and awkward to manoeuvre, especially for children.

A very modern look is to alternate different coloured chairs around a glass table, as glass is also in vogue. In fact anything transparent is in fashion. The recent revival of the glass-topped table, often set in a tubular steel framework which is a throwback to the 1970s, now includes wooden bases of often eye-catching designs, which can be viewed through the top. This feature also happily dispenses with the need for table cloths and all the laundry and red wine stain removal that ensues.

Coffee tables are getting the same treatment with the added value that your lovely rug can be seen beneath.

Be careful, though, if you decide on fully transparent chairs with a glass-topped table — the visual effect could be a bit watery and the furniture will be lost in the room.

An alternative to this is to have tinted plastic chairs. Amber is a good choice as it echoes the brown of wood but maintains the transparency which gives it its lightness.

For a very modern look to suit those who like a little fun in their interior, alternate different coloured plastic resin chairs around the glass table, or even a white melamine version.

However,a word of caution for anybody pondering a purchase of a glass topped table. In the past they tended to be very grown-up purchases for houses without children, or where they were past the furniture climbing phase.

Toughened glass has reduced the possibility of accidents and breakages but it’s worth stopping to think if glass tables are right for you — especially if you have adventurous little ones.

Maybe some of those plastic resin chairs would be the more sensible, but stylish, purchase.


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