Though they’re rarely the first thing that comes to mind on hearing the word “furniture,” home appliances can make just as much of an aesthetic impact as a bold chair or ornate table. Kitchen appliances, in particular, have long been designed with a keen eye for style. We frequently get beautifully designed vintage kitchen appliances in stock at Furnish Green, like this art deco Breakfaster, this Osterizer beehive blender, and this Maid of Honor ice cream freezer. But rarely has one caused such a stir of excitement as when the Rival Ice-O-Matic electric ice crusher arrived.
“It’s so cool-looking!”
“We HAVE to try it out.”
And we did. It crushes up ice cubes into little ice shards so deftly that it seems to deserve a round of applause afterward. It could be a faithful friend through cocktail parties and hot days alike, and look good while doing it.
A little history: you’ve probably heard of Rival, and there’s a good chance there’s at least one item in your kitchen with their name on it. The Rival Company dates back to 1932 when, in Kansas City, Russian immigrant Henry J. Talge started a small die-casting business that soon began to produce their own products. Rival’s first product was the Juice-O-Mat manual juicer. The “O-Mat” and later “O-Matic” trademark landed on most of Rival’s kitchen and home products for decades, like the Shred-O-Mat, the Grind-O-Mat, the Steam-O-Matic, and the Protect-O-Matic.
The Rival Company produced many colors and styles of manual ice crushers and, in the 1950s, expanded into electric ice crushers. These sleek boxes of chrome, enamel, and plastic encapsulate the image of the perfect mid century Donna Reed kitchen, highly color coordinated and filled with tools and gadgets for every need.
Though this is the end of the story for our friendly Ice-O-Matic, the biggest chapter of the Rival story doesn’t come until 1971, when they introduce the Crock Pot. This innovative slow cooker changed home cooking for countless individuals and made the Rival brand a true household name. The company still exists today, though their product line is not as “O-Matic” centered as it once was.
So whether you’re building up your vintage bar or just prefer your ice to be very small, consider the noble Ice-O-Matic.
These days, plastic doesn’t have the most upscale reputation, usually stemming from the idea of plastic as disposable. “Plastic furniture” may conjure up images of lawn chairs and beach chairs sold at CVS or Target. However, there’s a world of beautiful, stylish plastic furniture meant for indoor use. Plastic’s appeal in quality furniture isn’t disposability; plastic (and its heavier cousin Lucite), is lightweight and durable, and presents a futuristic aesthetic with clean simple lines. Lucite and molded plastic can be clear, smoked or tinted, or a solid color.
Lucite, like Formica and Kleenex, is actually a brand name that became so ubiquitous it is often used (as I will here) to describe all acrylic glass. The formula for acrylic glass was developed in 1928, and a variety of companies internationally brought it to market through the 1930s. The most prominent versions were Rohm & Haas’ “Plexiglas” and DuPont’s “Lucite.” The initial applications were utilitarian and coincided with World War II: windshields for airplanes, periscopes for submarines, and gun turrets were all being made from Plexiglas/Lucite for both sides of the war.
Cosmetics titan (and first female Jewish magnate) Helena Rubinstein was an early acolyte of Lucite furniture, decking out her apartment with custom-manufactured Rohm & Haas pieces in the 1930s. However, it wasn’t until the 1960s that the design world hit upon Lucite as the next big material for jewelry, art, and furniture. Through the 1960s and 1970s, Lucite was the medium of choice in evoking the futuristic and space-age for modernist and experimental furniture designers. Molded plastic was often employed in this aesthetic as a lighter-weight and less expensive alternative to Lucite that looked equally sleek and clean.
The Jetsons may have imagined some things that were out of reach, but the funky atomic-style shapes of the show’s backdrops were best translated to the real world in Lucite and plastic. Lucite also became a key material in late Hollywood Regency designs of the 1970s and 1980s, since clear and tinted objects could match easily with gold, white, and even the loudest patterns. Clear furniture and decor, in particular, are strongly associated with the opulent styles of the 1980s.
Molded plastic found a new design champion in the 1990s through Phillippe Starck’s Louis Ghost Chair for Kartell. Kartell, a Los Angeles-based company specializing in plastic furniture, had a hit on their hands with the Louis Ghost and subsequent similar styles like the Victoria Ghost. These chairs married traditional historic furniture shapes with bold modern materials and geometry for a stunning effect. The Ghost collection of furniture is still produced by Kartell, as well as many imitators offering versions at lower price points. We currently have in stock an assortment of imitation Louis Ghost and Victoria Ghost chairs, as seen below.
Though it has gone in and out of style since its creation, there’s no doubt that Lucite and plastic are here to stay in furniture. As 3D printing becomes more widespread through all fields of design, it’s no surprise that there’s a growing number of companies offering distinctive 3D-printed furniture. Here at Furnish Green, we’re always bringing in Lucite and plastic furniture in a range of styles, so keep an eye on our showroom or click here for your next retro-futuristic treasure!
From their first collaborations as husband and wife in the middle 1950s until the present day, no other designers have spoken as completely and as articulately in single furniture offerings. Each piece, whether their Biagio table lamp for Flos, their Bastiano seating range for Knoll or their Centenary vases for L’eclaireur, simultaneously addresses history, industrial production, form, function, materials and contemporary cultures. – Matthew Sullivan of Core77
Their design work ranged from full scale architectural projects such as factories, shops and offices created for Benetton to everyday household items including art, glass, clothing and furniture.
Tobia and Afra were innovators of their time because of their consciousness to produce functional pieces with a poetic, amalgamative and polished design. While they used modern materials and procedures to create their products, their designs were more classical than the ones being produced by their peers during that time. This influenced the way people furnished their homes as residents wanted furniture that stood in perfect harmony with modern and traditional interiors alike.