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.

Woman Test Portable fibregalss shelter
Fibreglass shelter designed for both military personnel and equipment, it was composed of 12 separated sections, each interchangeable with any other. It

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.

Fibreglass roof of a DS Citroën
Fibreglass roof of a DS Citroën on display during the 42th Paris Car Show in the Grand Palais. (Photo by AFP) (Photo by STF/AFP via Getty Images)

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.

Sources

INSTRUMENT DESIGN: 2007. https://instrumentdesign.blogspot.com/2007/

Glass‐reinforced plastic – Oxford Reference. https://www.oxfordreference.com/view/10.1093/acref/9780191762963.001.0001/acref-9780191762963-e-343

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