Monday, September 14, 2015

Plastic Chairs

Plastics chairs are a part of modern society, but they are not always greatly appreciated. However many design artists latch onto the the great choices in materials and shapes - and to some extent, the low costs - to try and create something significant. Yesterday the Style Page at reviewed 13 classic designs for plastic chairs in a slide show. Amazingly, the slides mention not only the materials that were used in making the chair, but also the manufacturing technique. The pictures of each chair are primitive as you can see with this one of the Panton Chair, my personal favorite:

The author clearly states their love of plastic, but of course has to throw in the standard, poorly-thought-out obligatory environmental complaint about the material as well:
"At the same time, plastics have created a contaminated, toxic world that needs to be reconsidered and resolved. There is great hope in biodegradable plastics, 100% recycled plastics, deriving plastics from sugar cane, plant-based and other renewable sources..."
A biodegradable chair? Wooden chairs are already biodegradable, but I am completely unaware of any facility will take them and compost them. You can burn wooden chairs, but you can burn plastic chairs as well. And as I discussed in the past, plant-based plastics will largely be identical to the petroleum-based plastics that we have today. Huge investments are being made to make bio-based ethylene, propylene, etc that will protect the huge investments already made to polymerize and process these plastics. Novel monomers (and thereby novel polymers) are possible, but it can take a decade and more to get a new polymer to be profitable, meaning that you need plenty of money and the guts to keep spending it when you don't see a payoff anytime soon.

While people love novel designs, no company is going through the expense of developing a new material just so that designers can be creative with it. I hate to be the one to disappoint the designers, but the future feedstocks for plastics chairs will look pretty much like what we already have today.

Previous Years

September 14, 2012 - The PR for Medical Research is Overhyped??? You Don't Say

September 14, 2011 - Here's What Single-Use Plastic Really Does

September 14, 2010 - Human Skin

September 14, 2010 - Plastics are loved by "The New Yorker"

September 14, 2009 - It's an attack on Organikers, I tell you

September 14, 2007 - Science Tattoos

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