Cheap, tough, light and versatile, plastic is one of the miracle materials of the 20th century. Its image is sometimes cheap and nasty, but as Shannon discovers, in the right hands – say that of Aussie designer Marc Newson – plastic personifies contemporary cool.
For the first time since the Bakelite of the 1940's and the Tupperware craze of the '50s and '60s, plastic is the material of the moment. In the last decade companies such as Alessi in Germany, Umbra in Canada and Apple in the US have hired a list of who's who in design and made plastic cool. Alessi gave plastics personality, Umbra blew out its curves and Apple made it hip.
Most plastics nowadays are recyclable. The main obstacle is not the nature of the plastic but the infrastructure available to sort, grade and separate it - and our own willingness to take responsibility for our recycling habits.
Designer plastics for your home
- Louis Poulsen floor lamp – designed by Danish Verner Panton in the 1960's, but still looks as modern and sexy today.
- Gordon Andrews cube table – originally designed in the 1960s for the NSW Coal Board, these fabulous designs are now being produced by FY2K.
- If you want cool you can't go past the designs of Mr Plastic Fantastic himself – Australian designer Marc Newson. Arguably the most accomplished and influential designers of our generation, his resume includes the interiors of private jets, Qantas A380 planes, the entire design of a car for Ford, the interior of shops, bars and restaurants, chairs and other furnishings, homewares, bicycles, watches, even a perfume bottle, hair dryer and soap dish.
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