Seven transparent designs that'll knock your socks off

Barely There

Trend alert! The barely-there allure of glass and acrylic is everywhere these days, as contemporary designers innovate in transparent materials to play with form, shadow, and color. These designs maybe be see-through, but their effects on an interior pack a visual punch.

The subtlety and lightness of this ethereal aesthetic has its root in the postwar experimentations with the new wonder material plastic. From the Hollywood Regency obsession with lucite to Vietnamese-born designer Quasar Khanh’s translucent, inflatable furniture series in the 1960s—and who could forget Philippe Starck’s iconic Louis Ghost Chair—it’s clear that transparency is not an invention of our century. Still, there is something so effortlessly now about these seven diaphanous contemporary designs.



Ghost Altuglas Bench by Charly Bounan

French designer Charly Bounan is an alchemist of light. In his Ghost series, he works with the high performance resin Altuglas to create geometric pieces that are bold in form and subtle in palette. The crystal-clear material allows the interplay of light and shadow to truly be the hero.


Bubble Chandelier by Simone Crestani

Like capturing the bubbles in a glass of good champagne, Italian artist-designer Simone Crestani created this effervescent pendant out of Borosilicate glass, 24k gold, and brass. Sparkling, luminous, and unexpected, the Bubble Chandelier is nothing short of a masterpiece.


FUGU Vase Collection by Kanz Architect for KANZ

Again combining glass with a flash of gold—two of the most au courant trends around—the Fugu Vases appear more fluid than solid. The minimalist glam of the gold metal frame is softened by a borosilicate glass orb resting on top. Conceived by Venice-based Kanz Architect to offer an emotional and creative outlet for the user—promoting a dynamic relationship with the user rather than asserting a static aesthetic—these vases offer several options for diverse floral arrangements.


Horizonte Console Table by Superego

Italian design collective Superego has made its name by combining Pop Art and digital culture influences in Plexiglass furniture. Superego's Horizonte Console Table is one of the more minimalist examples of the studio’s flamboyant style. Tiny fragments of colored plexiglass are suspended within the transparent acrylic frame, giving the illusion of pixels in space; cyberspace come to life.


Brick Candle Holder One by Jenny Nordberg for Swedish Ninja

The Brick Candle by Stockholm-based Swedish Ninja is both a collectible, conceptual work of design and an utterly of-the-moment accessory. In this series, designer Jenny Nordberg produced glass forms in the exact dimensions of traditional bricks and used them to assemble precious-looking sculptural accessories—with an echo of their industrial inspiration. The best of both worlds, really.


Una—Articolo Indeterminativo Table by Stefano Marolla for Secondome

In Una—Articolo Indeterminativo, Italian designer Stefano Marolla has created a wooden base that has the undulating curves of draped cloth. An impeccable glass sheet tranforms the sculpture into a table and allows the viewer to wonder at the technical mastery of the workmanship from every angle.


Soft Concrete U-Bench by Remy & Veenhuizen

Taking a slightly different approach to the theme of transparency, Dutch duo Remy & Veenhuizen have created an optical illusion with the Soft Concrete U-Bench. Supple folds and regular circular cutouts give this hefty concrete bench the airy appearance of an inflatable mattress—and there’s something absolutely magical about the juxtaposition between the material and the aesthetic. We’re not the only ones who think so; the piece has been acquired for the permanent collections of LACMA and SF MoMA!


*All images courtesy of the studios


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