But the plastic they’re working with “has evolved drastically” from the 1970s, according to Ivan Luini, president of Kartell US Inc. “There are plastics now that were not available back then,” Luini continues. Such as: a kind of polypropylene (normally hard and dense like wood) that feels cushy like foam, but isn’t. Last spring in Milan, Kartell introduced a spongy plastic chair made from the techno-polymer.

And there are new production techniques too.

“What I am impressed with in what a company like Magis does or what Kartell does, is that they are using plastic as a noble material”–not as a cheap substitute for something else, says Alan Heller, the uncommon American doing designer plastics.

The molten material allows for shapes and designs that simply could not be done in any other material, says Heller, whose New York-based company works with Italian maestro Mario Bellini and other top European designers to create Modern plastic furniture. Manufacturing is done in Iowa and Italy.

Rotational moulding is one of the most recent triumphs of the Italian furniture world. It allows for the mass production of large plastic furniture that is hollow and therefore less costly and cumbersome. In a technique similar to the one used to make hollow chocolate Easter eggs, plastic powder is dispersed by centrifugal force through a hot mould that rotates randomly on several axes. After a matter of minutes, the powder evenly coats the walls of the mould–and a chair or sofa is sprung free, holding secret its empty inside.

Source is The Chicago Tribune

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