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Transparent Chairs: A Fresh Modern Twist On The Plastic Chair

Plastic chairs have something of a bad reputation. The phrase alone probably makes you think of cheapie outdoor furniture or maybe something made for a little kid. But high end, durable plastics have become a darling of modern design, particularly chairs made of clear polycarbonate. A spiritual successor to the white plastic chairs iconic of a mid century modern design, these transparent chairs have a more contemporary feel and work well in a variety of different locations.

Transparent chairs are a natural fit with a sleek, chic, high end modern design (by Massimo Interiors)
Transparent chairs are a natural fit with a sleek, chic, high end modern design (by Massimo Interiors)

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Transparent chairs are commonly used as dining chairs, and many of them mimic a very traditional dining chair style, with high backs that are either rounded or slatted, and sometimes simple arms. But depending on your other decor choices, the same chairs can have a very different appearance. In a very chic modern dining room, for example, paired with sculptural white elements and a few high end accents (like a chandelier), these clear chairs take on a crystalline quality. Particularly if they’re set up to catch the light, the clearness of the chairs becomes a very eye catching and elegant feature.

Because they're clear, transparent chairs also blend well with a variety of different styles, including a very relaxed, natural decor (by barlow reid design)
Because they’re clear, transparent chairs also blend well with a variety of different styles, including a very relaxed, natural decor (by barlow reid design)

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But while clear plastic chairs are definitely a modern choice, they don’t necessarily have to be paired with all hard lines and cold, minimalist designs. In fact, they actually pair surprisingly well with a more relaxed, natural decor. Simple wood tables and wood floors compliment transparent chairs quite nicely, not the least because they combine to create a very open, airy, natural feel. They’re also great for showing off a dining table with a decorative base that normal chairs might hide.

Clear plastic chairs can make a breakfast nook or banquette feel a bit larger and more open while offering added seating (by Ali Budd Interiors, photo by Stephani Buchman )
Clear plastic chairs can make a breakfast nook or banquette feel a bit larger and more open while offering added seating (by Ali Budd Interiors, photo by Stephani Buchman )

Outside the dining room, though, transparent chairs are often chosen largely for the fact that they’re see-through. For example, they’re often used as seating in a breakfast nook or banquette not for the style of the chair itself, but because they keep the space from looking too crowded. Because they’re clear and usually fairly solid in design, it’s as easy to look through a clear char as it is to look at one. For a nook type space in particular, that makes it possible to have more seating without it feeling like it intrudes on the surrounding area.

A transparent chair can help make a workstation feel like a more natural part of your home (by Wentworth, Inc.)
A transparent chair can help make a workstation feel like a more natural part of your home (by Wentworth, Inc.)

Transparent chairs are also frequently used for dressing tables or workstations in common areas of the home for exactly the same reason: if a big, bulky chair would visually block the space, a clear chair leaves it feeling open and uncluttered. If your home office is less an office and more of a nook, having a full sized office chair can make even the nicest looking space feel clunky and cubicle-like, not to mention potentially blocking walkways. Clear chairs are sleeker and leaner, and take up less space both physically and visually.

Polycarbonate chairs are sturdy enough to be used outside, but far more stylish than a typical plastic outdoor chair (by Ambience Home Design S.L)
Polycarbonate chairs are sturdy enough to be used outside, but far more stylish than a typical plastic outdoor chair (by Ambience Home Design S.L)

Chairs made of polycarbonate are also incredibly durable and weather resistant, so they can even be used outside. They’re harder and sturdier than the plastic outdoor chairs you’re probably familiar with, and are quite a bit more stylish. If you’re looking to add a more modern, elegant touch to our outdoor space, this is a great way to do it. It’s also worth noting, if you have a great view, clear chairs are vastly superior to any other kind of outdoor furniture in terms of keeping views unobstructed, since you can literally look right through them.

Polycarbonate chairs are even durable enough to be used directly in the shower, and make a great, stylish alternative to a conventional shower seat or bench (by Jeffrey King Interiors)
Polycarbonate chairs are even durable enough to be used directly in the shower, and make a great, stylish alternative to a conventional shower seat or bench (by Jeffrey King Interiors)

The added durability of these plastic chairs also means they’re showing up in one rather unexpected spot: the shower. Polycarbonate chairs have no problem with water; they won’t warp, rust, stain, or degrade over time, and that make them the perfect candidate for a stylish shower seat. This look works especially well with a large or open shower, but can also be used in a smaller space. Since the chairs are lightweight and easy to move, they can do double duty as a vanity seat, dressing chair, side table, and shower seat, depending on your needs.

But what do you think of these transparent chairs? Where would you be most likely to use one? Let me know in the comments below!