Just recently Kohl’s sent Home and Living a Lucite chair in keeping with their seasonal trends collections. We received a LumiSource Cradle Chair and are very taken with this marvelous material—its strength—its light-reflecting abilities—its glamor, and ability to reflect other colors. Lucite also has a deep and interesting history.
A brand name for a kind of acrylic resin, Lucite is often referred to as Plexiglas, Perspex and other trademarks such as Optix and Plaskolite. According to the site the carrotbox, “Lucite was invented in 1931 by chemists at DuPont.” In 1933, the German chemist Otto Röhm patented and registered the brand name Plexiglas. And because Plexiglas was the main focus of R&H, whereas Lucite was not DuPont’s primary product, Plexiglas was able to sell at more competitive prices and did better than its competitor. In 1936 however, the first commercially viable production of acrylic safety glass began by ICI Acrylics (now Lucite International).
During World War II acrylic glass was used for submarine periscopes, windshields, canopies, and gun turrets for airplanes because of its amazing properties: crystal clarity, resistance to water and UV rays, and low density yet with more strength than previous plastics. After the war, the plastics showed up in jewelry and other items. Lucite rings were highly popular during the ’50s and ’60s, as were Lucite handbags.
Today, this Poly methyl methacrylate (PMMA) mixture is a transparent thermoplastic, often used as a lightweight or shatter-resistant alternative to glass. This particular composite can be joined using cyanoacrylate cement (commonly known as superglue), with heat welding, or by using solventst, which fuses and sets, forming an almost invisible weld. Scratches may easily be removed by polishing or by heating the surface of the material.
PMMA transmits up to 92% of visible light, and gives a reflection of about 4% from each of its surfaces on account of its refractive index. Laser cut acrylic panels have been used to redirect sunlight into a light pipe or tubular skylight and, from there, to spread it into a room.
The spectator protection in ice hockey rinks is made from PMMA. And in cosmetic surgery, tiny PMMA microspheres suspended in some biological fluid are injected under the skin to reduce wrinkles or scars permanently.
In the 40s Lucite was used frequently in Hollywood and was associate with glamor (see photo below).
For us here at Lifestyle, we are happy to have finally discovered this fabulous material for ourselves. And if you are planning to use more color in your rooms, make sure to add a Lucite element in a table or a chair, for the light and color in the room will float through and still expand the space.
Take a look at the slideshow elements and see if you don’t agree.
Photo on site: Helena Rubinstein’s illuminated Lucite bed, designed by Ladislas Medgyes and produced by Rohm & Haas in the 30s—a photograph from a 1941 Life magazine.