Material Focus: Fiberglass

Fiberglass, or rather fiber-reinforced plastic, was developed in the 1930s. It was initially used by the military to build stronger and faster aircraft during World War II, and then commercially in boats and sport cars after the war. Beginning in the 1950s designers began to experiment with fiberglass for furniture. Lightweight, relatively inexpensive, colorful, and virtually indestructible, fiberglass proved an ideal medium for child design.

Image from moma.org

Image from moma.org

Although not child-sized, the Eames Rocking Chair was one of the first pieces to be mass-produced in fiberglass, beginning in 1950. This mid-century nursery staple was not sold to the public after 1968, but production continued on a small scale as gifts for every Herman Miller employee who became a new parent.

Image from midmod-design.com

Gunter Beltzig's fiberglass child chairs, produced in Germany in 1966, were part of a larger fiberglass collection, including play tables, a seesaw, and a slide, intended for indoor and outdoor use. Beltzig was drawn to fiberglass for his children's collection because the material's light weight insured that children could move and play with the pieces without adult assistance.

Image by Lora Appleton for kinder MODERN

Image by Lora Appleton for kinder MODERN

Marc Berthier's 1970 Ozoo line was the first fiberglass furniture produced in France. The Ozoo collection included furniture for children and adults, but the MiniDesk, which featured a fun hiding spot and places to stash school supplies, was purchased for use in several French school and kindergartens.

Image by Lora Appleton for kinder MODERN

Image by Lora Appleton for kinder MODERN

Eero Aarnio embraced fiberglass for this mod chair, made in Finland circa 1970.

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Interested in purchasing any of the kinder MODERN pieces, like the Ozoo MiniDesk or Mod Chair, featured in today's blog? Email design@kindermodern.com for more info or purchase directly through our site - now with ecommerce!