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Thursday, May 06, 2010

WHAT IS ACRYLIC? IS IT LUCITE, PLEXIGLASS OR JUST PLASTIC?

In the picture above is our Radiant Acrylic Cocktail table in the process of being made. In the background, covered with brown paper with blue text is a sheet of plexiglas acrylic.

Isn't Acrylic just plastic?

Acrylic is a clear high grade plastic made primarily from petroleum.   Yes, it's a form of plastic, but just as there are different grades of metals or woods, there are different grades of plastic. Particle board is technically wood, but then so is solid cherry or walnut, and aluminum is a metal, but then again so is platinum or gold.  Cell cast acrylic made by a reputable maker, most commonly found in the United States, is usually the best and what we use here at Alexandra Von Furstenberg. The misconceptions about acrylic, because it is a form of plastic, is that it either yellows or scratches easily.  Cheap plastic will yellow in the sun, but high quality cell cast acrylic will not, and unlike glass or lacquers, scratches in acrylic can be buffed out. 

Acrylic, Lucite, Plexiglass, Perspex:  What's the difference?

Other names, such as Lucite (Perspex) or Plexiglass(Acrylite) have all been used when referring to high grade Acrylic.  They are all trademarked brand names of acrylic basically like “Kleenex” is to facial tissue or "Scotch" is to adhesive tape.

Acrylic versus Glass

Acrylic is similar to glass, but acrylic has characteristics that make it superior to glass in many ways.  First off, it is many times stronger than glass, more impact resistant, and safer. In fact, a 32mm thick piece of acrylic (just over 1”) is actually bullet proof.  Acrylic is also only 50% the weight of glass, can be sawed allowing for more design possibilities and it can be shaped as well as glued seamlessly together.  Last but not least, as mentioned before, scratches in acrylic can be buffed out where as in glass it cannot.

What makes Acrylic Furniture so valuable?

Acrylic is made in sheets.  The thicker the sheet, the more expensive, and difficult it is to maintain the crystal clear quality that its sought after for.  Also, because it's made primarily from petroleum, its price is related directly to the price of oil.  Lastly, most acrylic furniture, and all of AVF’s pieces are not only made by hand, but the steps needed to make an AVF piece require them to be.  Learn more in "The Making of an Alexandra Von Furstenberg Acrylic Table".


Thursday, April 29, 2010

ALEXANDRA VON FURSTENBERG MEETS CHARLES HOLLIS JONES

Back in February 2010, renowned, respected, and published Lucite furniture designer, Charles Hollis Jones came to visit with Alexandra Von Furstenberg in her store.

Charles Hollis Jones and Alexandra Von Furstenberg, both share a love of working with acrylic to create modern furniture that encompass luxury, modernism and function with an artistic point of view.  Having driven by the store and looking at Alexandra's designs through the window, he finally made time to stop in to see them in person.  He complimented the pieces and introduced himself to us.  Unfortunately, Alexandra wasn't in the store at the time, but we arranged a time for him to come back later that week.
There is certainly a mutual admiration for each other's work.  Alexandra has often expressed how she was inspired by Charles' use of the material, and he referred to Alexandra's work as, "so alive and vibrant, the energy jumps off the furniture to the observer--it's electric".

Charles admiring Alexandra's design, the Acrylic Charm Candy bowl.

Charles Hollis Jones admires the AVF Acrylic Bowl Design


Monday, April 26, 2010

VOLTAGE SLIDESHOW OF ACRYLIC TABLES



Video slideshow of the VOLTAGE COLLECTION of Acrylic Tables and Accessories by Alexandra Von Furstenberg.

VOLTAGE VIDEO SLIDESHOW OF CONTEMPORARY ACRYLIC TABLES

View the video slideshow of Alexandra's Voltage Division, a collection of stylish, sleek, and modern acrylic tables.


Monday, April 19, 2010

THE MAKING OF AN ALEXANDRA VON FURSTENBERG ACRYLIC TABLE

The complexity, details, and labor that go into making an Alexandra Von Furstenberg piece can often be overlooked by the simplicity of her design’s line, color and function. Each AVF design is a true example of the labor of love, and the dedication to the craftsmanship of making fine Acrylic Furniture.

DESIGNING ALEXANDRA'S MODERN ACRYLIC FURNITURE COLLECTION

After reading all about the value and attributes of acrylic in our post, What is Acrylic?, we can now go on to explain how an Alexandra Von Furstenberg table is designed and made.

1:  The Inspiration for AVF Contemporary Furniture and Accessories

The first phase in creating an AVF piece of course is the inspiration of the design. 

The inspiration for Alexandra's acrylic tables come from so many places, objects or people, that it's hard to know when or where the inspiration will click.  The one thing that all of her inspirations have in common is that they almost always visual in nature.

Her first collection was inspired by the luxurious faceted cuts of diamonds.  A clear and fine example would be the facets seen on the Ice Acrylic Table or the Emerald Cut Bullet Modern Cocktail Table.

2.  Implementing the Acrylic AVF Design

From here, after the inspiration is found, Alexandra designs each piece, all while considering the properties and flexibility of acrylic, but also keeping in mind its limitations.  Once the design has been sketched out roughly, it is then rendered and technically drafted on a CAD program in various options of size, proportion or color with an acute attention to the finer details.

Next, the final renderings and technical drawings are taken to the factory where it will be discussed and engineered with a craftsman and where a prototype will be made.  AVF will sometimes make a miniature of a new prototype first to save on time and materials. 

3.  Cutting and Bonding the Acrylic

AVF designed pieces are usually more complicated than most other acrylic furniture because of the gem-like facets and angles that she uses to capture light and reflection. Alexandra's pieces also call for very thick sheets of acrylic.  Using 2", 3" or 4" sheets is not uncommon in her designs which are needed to be able to create all the angles and facets.  This of course adds to the luxury, value, and quality of her pieces.  

Therefore, each piece must be skillfully cut using saws with great precision into the shapes needed to make the piece.  There isn’t a lot of tolerance for error in cutting a piece as each 1/16” can throw off the entire fitting of the pieces ant the tiniest pocket of air can create unwanted bubbles in the bonding process.

Next comes the bonding, which again is another complicated process and requires a lot of patience.  Everything down to the temperature of the glue as well as the room must be ideal.  Pieces are bonded together one by one, and the proper amount of drying time must be given before you move on to the next step.

4.  Buffing. Polishing and Caring for Acrylic

Buffing comes next.  This is what gives the acrylic its polished, slippery and glossy feel.  AVF pieces also have fine beveled edges adding to the luxury and feel of the piece.  The corners and edges are never sharp as you often find in lesser quality acrylic furniture.  Getting the piece to glisten and shine as only acrylic can do takes time and patience, but the reward of seeing the piece reflect the light makes it all worth it.

From time to time, we recommend polishing your acrylic pieces to recapture it's original shine.  Also, polishing helps to remove fine scratches. We recommend Sprayway Plastic Cleaner to repel dust and for more everyday cleaning.  We also recommend polishing your piece from time to time using NOVUS Acrylic Cleaning and Polishing kits.  Both can both be purchased online or over the counter at hardware stores.  NEVER use any cleaners that contain ammonia or do not specify that they are safe to use on acrylic.

5.  The Final Step

After it’s been buffed, it goes on to be inspected and approved to AVF’s standards.  If it passes the quality inspection, a signed, numbered, and dated plaque is adhered to it signifying that it’s an authentic Alexandra Von Furstenberg piece.

Lastly, the final step is delivering the piece to the customer to enjoy.  Whether in your home, office, or business, your new Limited Edition Furniture piece by Alexandra Von Furstenberg is an investment that will make a bold contemporary statement and retain its value and prestige like a fine work of art would as long as you take great care of it. 

AVF Plaque


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