Hard Materials III



Laminate involves synthetic plastic sheeting layered onto of paper or wood, with the resolve of copying real solid wood or more expensive, luxury materials (tiling, concrete, marble etc). Laminate is very easy to install and maintain without the need for professionals, a straightforward choice to ‘do it yourself’ when decorating. Rather than using nails or screws, often laminate is installed using the ‘tongue and groove’ system, where the sheets snap into place, however appropriate glue adhesives can also be used. Laminate is available in a variety of sizes depending on the use within interior design (flooring, wall panels, table tops etc).  Laminate is most commonly employed within interior design as flooring and kitchen design. The synthetic material ensures it is tough, durable and it has a built in scratch guard to resist scratching and wear and tear damage. The synthetic covering is resilient to warping and shrinking, as well as being water resistant. A great option for flooring as it can also withstand heat so will work well with underfloor heating.

British designer Morag Myers helped design a children’s wing at Sheffield Children’s Hospital in which they used bright colours and zany patterns to create a fun, lively and visually upbeat space to help lift the spirts of those staying in the hospital. Laminate was a skilful selection here as it is simple to maintain with a durable nature as well as the endless choices of colours and patterns that could be chosen.


The ability of laminate to mimic hundreds of finishes mean  it can be applied in a range of interior styles (country, eclectic, modern, minimal, traditional etc). Laminate can also be used with glass to improve protection and prevent shattering. One of the key benefits to using laminate with furniture is the fact there is endless possibilities with your colour, style and size options. You will not forgo the quality and design of your space by choosing laminate with multiple preferences and durable properties, you can have style as well as ease of living. You are not as restricted as you would be with real wood choices, and Laminate is a far more cost effective option and great value for money.

Matthew Day Jackson has teamed with Finnish brand Made by Choice to create this laminate material, cartoonish style chair inspired by the Apollo 11 moon landing.

Laminate can mimic many materials, most commonly real wood within furniture design. This is seen in the examples, the console table, bookcase and dining chair. However laminate can also replicate of other luxurious and opulent substances such as concrete and marble.


Injection Moulded Plastic

A substantial material in mass produced furniture design, injection moulded plastic involves melted plastic pellets being poured and cooled in a shaped moulding. There are a handful of advantages to injecting moulded plastic within interior design, hence it’s popularity. Complicated and intricate shapes can be proposed, generating furniture that would never be possible to craft with organic material (e.g. solid wood, marble etc). The rise in reputation with these injection moulded plastics is also down to the fact that a wide collection can be generated with identical shapes, sizes and colours. This is perfect for mass produced furniture design. There are low labour costs, however it should be noted that to create the machinery needed for this process it is expensive, and often there will be long lead times for injection moulded plastic furniture and interiors.

Designer Karim Rashid has transformed interiors that illustrate the unlimited possibilities of injection moulded plastic design. Characterised by fluid melting shapes, bold colours and individualistic stylised spaces, Rashid creates a ‘plastic paradise’ that sparks imagination and animation. Bursting with energy the chairs, tables, wall details and sculptural accessories display the potential of injection moulded plastic material and what it can build within interior design.

Injection moulded plastic has resulted in some of the most provoking and modern pieces of furniture design since its emergence in the 19thcentury, and it is in the last 50 or so years that the most interesting and multifaceted designs have been created.


The 621 Table designed by Dieter Rams – A platform for the practical and visually pleasing component of plastic furniture design with these side tables that slot into one another. These tables have been recreated in recent years by design company Vitsoe.


The Componibili Storage Unit by Anna Castelli Ferreri – These iconic units have become prolific within modern and minimal design. The use of injection moulded plastics means we can have matching storage units that can differ slightly in height, size and are available in a wide range of colours. Constantly being updated with new palettes (metallics etc), plastics (bio degradable) and the adaptability of use in almost every room in the home mean these units are a key element of modern modular design.


The Panthella Floor Lamp by Louis Poulsen – A joyful, modern and exclusive design signifying post modern decor, the Panthella Floor Lamp reveals the versatility and innovation of injection moulded plastics and their ability to incorporate lighting design within interiors.


The ‘Panton Chair by Verner Panton – Originally designed in the 1960s in polyester and fibreglass, the iconic chair was reformatted in injected moulded plastic in the 1990s to increase  longevity, durability and strength. A curvaceous design rooted in visual appeal and well as the practicality of stacking the chairs in place, this design is renowned and incredibly influential in the development of plastic use within furniture design


The Ghost Chair by Philippe Starck – A significant creation in recent interiors design and instantly recognisable, the ghost chair showcases the concept of bringing traditional design into the modern century. Originally inspired by the Louis XVI chair, Starck put a modern spin on conventional design producing this glossy, exuberant piece that is finished in transparent or coloured polycarbonate and composed in a single injection mould. Although it looks fragile and delicate, this is actually an incredibly robust chair, durable as well as waterproof.


‘Impossible Wood’ Collection designed by Doshi Levien – Moving injection moulded plastic further within furniture design, this chair showcases the combination of plastic and wood fibre. Although the chair looks like wood, it consists of 80% wood fibre and 20% polypropylene, demonstrating the  innovative and linear expansion of this man made material.



Acrylic is a transparent thermoplastic that derives from natural gases, a composition of Polymethyl Methacrylate (PMMA) and Methyl Methacrylate (MMA). Starting out in liquid form, Acrylic is then moulded into shapes and designs forming a strong, durable plastic. Originating in 1937 by Rohm and Haas who introduced this ‘Lucite’ material (now known as Plexiglass), acrylic is a relatively leading-edge material. An eco friendly preference as the plastic can be reused and made into other items. An alternative material to glass, it is cheaper making it far more cost effective, as well as a sturdier and lighter option than glass. Acrylic is very adaptable with frosted, fluorescent and mirror style finishes. However it should be noted that the fumes created during the process of manufacturing Acrylic can be highly toxic and protective clothing and equipment is necessary.

Acrylic has the benefit of being able to fit into any interior space or design theme, whether it be uber modern or French Country there is immense adaptability with this style. The use of acrylic on staircases express this, with a simple, clean spiral staircase, versus a more traditional, homely combination of acrylic with oak wood on the stair banister. Finally we have a edgy, pop of colour with the florescent staircase that plays with lighting effects for maximum impact. Acrylic can experiment with function and style within any given interior, creating an unexpected feel in the home.

The unexpected combination of acrylic with classic architecture is demonstrated in the louvre, Paris by designer Mathieu Lehanneur who used these neon pink acrylic light fittings with the café. A modern and edgy touch in a historical setting.

Acrylic is often used for lighting within interior design due to is soft ambiance effect, diverse colour palettes and flexibility when moulded. Lighting can vary between joyful and edgy, like the personalised neon signage to abstract and whimsical such as the Paul Coudamy designed apartment. This room features a ceiling lighting fixture made of 76 frosted acrylic triangles formed together creating an almost otherworldly geometric cloud. There are limitless possibilities when it comes to acrylic in lighting design.

Acrylic can be utilised for countless furniture items in the home incorporating side tables, chairs, shelving etc. A relatively undemanding material to tidy and maintain however if deep marks or scratches appear these can be trickier to remove and require deep buffing. It is also important to note that Acrylic can soften at very high temperatures (160 Celsius), usually high enough that it is still suitable for most uses in the home. Acrylic can help define hyper modern interior spaces, or simply be a hint or nod to artistical sculptural design. It is fun to challenge the norm and create a space that is truly unique and personal, acrylic is a exuberant and unproblematic material to help one achieve this.