Plastic is fantastic – only if it is recyclable and never comes into direct contact with adult skin, says ZAIN MUSTAFA
Having given it a great deal of thought, and trying to be as politically and environmentally correct on the issue as possible, I must concede that there are no two ways of looking at the use of plastic.
The only thing I recommend is don’t do it!
Everyone has at some point tripped over the enigmatic phrase ‘there’s a time and place for everything’. One can easily apply the same to the use of plastic in interiors.
Regardless of whether the plastic is being used towards the decorative enhancement of our bodies, or as shelving devices in one’s living rooms - I would heavily plead against it.
Plastic is an incredible invention. It has been developed and used successfully in the medical industry, car manufacturing, the toy industry, packaging and a plethora of furniture designs too.
However, it’s a bit like nuclear power – in that it can be both used and abused. Of course, its negative impact is not as explosive, but it can prove to be equally, if not more, uncomfortable in the long run.
At a very white, glossy, glamorous, ‘’contemporary’’, minimalist fashion multi brand boutique recently I had the opportunity to rest my tired self on a stunning equally glossy moulded form of seating that could have been inspired by Zaha Hadid’s work or some drift wood.
The object, positioned by the edge of the glass handrail was designed to be a chair, but looked perfectly poised, to replicate a sculpture when not in use.
Then I sat on it, and the relief was immeasurable. However, even with the slight dip in the material to allow the accommodation of any size of derriere, it offered no comfort. The hard quality of the material defeated the very purpose it was made for, and needless to say I did not remain seated for long.
It may sound like a series of mixed messages, but the truth of the matter is that though designs of this nature are fine in commercial and retail environments, many plastic furniture designs carry more value for their line, form and aesthetic than function and comfort. In fact if these objects have not been created from recycled plastic and cannot be recycled further, then their value is further compromised especially in today’s environmentally sensitive design era.
Toys for ankle-biters, furniture for kindergartens for them to play with and plastic’s use as an educational tool to understand etiquette and interiors at a subliminal level is terrific. But living with adult sized versions of such furniture is not advisable.
In the context of the sixties era of boho-chic, it was a novel and experimental material that evoked curiousity and wonder. But today it needs to be contextual and as non-egotistical as possible. It must be recyclable and only if it is used as a component that does not ever come in direct contact with exposed human skin, can it be acceptable. It needs to be part of the ‘green’ infrastructure. For any environment other than gyms, certain parts of airports, schools, hospitals, prisons, trailer parks, barbeque pits or pool areas, plastic furniture is best avoided.
Zain Mustafa is the founder and creative force behind Zain Mustafa interiors. A graduate from Parsons School of Design (NYC) and Columbia University, Mustafa has lived and worked in Europe, Asia and North America, Zain’s creations are a hybrid manifestation of both hemispheres.