Clearly, it's a trendThu, March 27, 2008
If it's clarity you seek in design trends, take a closer look at transparent or translucent furnishings and accessories.
If you seek to simplify and unclutter your living spaces, furnishings that are barely there can make bold statements.
Transparent or translucent materials are increasingly being fashioned into everything from chairs, chaises, tables, lamps and shelves to screens.
They're showing up in more and more magazines every month, with designers declaring the clear Lucite Louis Ghost Chair designed by Philippe Starck for Kartell as the "it" chair of the decade.
"When it starts to transition to furniture stores that's when people will pick up the trend," says Jennifer Ballantyne, showroom co-ordinator for Tepperman's Furniture, who keeps a watchful eye on what's happening in the industry.
The interior designer says she's spotted the translucent trend in magazines and major centres such as Toronto -- often the first indication of a full-blown future fad.
"It's definitely starting to take hold," Ballantyne says, particularly in accessories.
In the context of a small apartment or condominium, the attraction of clear furnishings is obvious.
While your square footage can't change, the illusion of space is flexible.
Like glass windows, transparent items have the ability to visually lighten or stretch a space -- while maximizing natural light.
Clear materials either absorb or reflect their surroundings. They can take a visible role playing off existing bold designs and colour choices in rooms and furnishings.
The French-designed Ghost Chair, an injection-molded wonder, complements anything from a desk to a dining table by virtually disappearing.
Engineered to be strong yet lightweight, plastics known under trademarks such as Lucite, Lexan and Plexiglas also have environmental and long-lasting benefits.
In architecture, these modern materials are already taking the place of conventional materials that are becoming depleted.
In the 1967 film The Graduate, Mr. McGuire offered one word of advice to Dustin Hoffman's Benjamin Braddock about the future -- "plastics."
Once considered a cheap substitute for other materials, plastic is now being used for high-end goods in the most elegant living spaces.
Online retailer Aaron R. Thomas Ready to Carry says these clearly cool modern transparent furnishings can be "a bridge" between the ultra modern and classic antiques used in the same room.
If you're not comfortable with plastic as a major element, consider a smaller accessory such as a shelf or coffee table that will add sparkle and hip playfulness that won't cramp the room.
Or try a Lucite chandelier. They were featured prominently in the Canada Blooms outdoor living show in Toronto earlier this month.
Changing lighting is a good way to modernize and personalize a room, says Stephanie Carson, a baby boomer who downsized to a downtown apartment.
Carson, a manager at Guildwood Lighting in the core, says lamps can be a popular way to tap into the trend "because of their lightness, they don't take up as much space."
Carson says she's seeing "more and more of a demand" for modern lighting that adds sparkle. It's usually "sold the minute it comes in."
"We're a downtown store, we're geared for the apartment dweller . . . and we have something for every budget," she says.
With online shopping, you can also easily obtain a piece reflecting the latest trends without necessitating a trip to a major metropolitan area.
London Free Press article