Fibreglass exciting early design medium

Known as glass-enhanced plastic (GRP) in Britain, fibre-enhanced plastic (FRP) in the USA or by the trade name fibreglass (after the manufacturer Fibreglass Ltd.), GRP has been used for a wide range of applications from car body panels and boat hulls to furniture and tennis rackets. It has the virtue of a good weight to strength ratio, rust resistance, and ability to be moulded in a wide variety of ways.

It became increasingly widely used in the post-Second World War period, a pioneering design being Charles and Ray Eames’ famous DAR armchair for the 1948 Low-Cost Furniture Design Competition at the Museum of Modern Art in New York. Alongside the organic shapes found in many contemporary products, train and automotive design in Italy, the fluid, sculptural shape of the seat (supported on a metal frame) expressed the new medium’s creative potential.

“DAR” (Dining Armchair Rod) armchair, Charles Eames

Husband-and-wife designers Charles and Ray Eames met at the Cranbrook Academy of Art in the 1930s. Together, they worked to unite economy with quality and modernity in their furniture designs. This goal inspired their ground-breaking experiments with the inexpensive new materials plywood and plastic.

These were realised in subsequent designs, such as the elegant Tulip chair of Eero Saarinen from 1956. Verner Panton was another designer to explore the medium’s expressive qualities in his moulded, cantilevered chair, first produced in West Germany in the 1960s. Many furniture designs first produced in GRP were subsequently manufactured in ABS plastic.

A 1960s orange Fibreglass tulip base chair.

A 1960s orange Fibreglass tulip base chair and a circular Perspex auto trolley You must be a subscriber, and be logged in to view price and dealer details. Subscribe Now to view actual auction price for this item When you subscribe, you have the option of setting the currency in which to display prices to $Au, $US, $NZ or Stg.

Wikipedia Citroën DS with fibreglass roof

Early use of GRP in automotive manufacturing included the Citroen DS (1955) roof and the Chevrolet Corvette body panels (1953). Since the 1970s, improved production processes have led to more widespread use in architecture and interior design, whether in weatherproof details and services or bathrooms. Start writing or pasting something here, and then press the Paraphrase button.



Glass‐reinforced plastic – Oxford Reference.

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