Why The Transparent Plastic Ghost Chair Is An Icon Of Modern Furniture Design

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A ghost chair may sound like a cryptic piece of furniture, but they’re actually quite attractive, and as a design, serve several practical purposes—none of which include scaring the bejesus out of you. As a more formal introduction, the original Ghost chair was officially named the Louis Ghost Chair, referencing another famous piece of furniture, the Louis XVI Chair. The ubiquitous armchair design was popularized during the infamous French king’s reign, featuring an exposed wood frame with an upholstered seat, armrests, and round or square back.

The iconic Louis XVI Chair is indeed a timeless traditional design that’s been popular since its inception in the 1700s. In 2002, French designer Philippe Starck in a revolutionary way: He made it plastic. A solid piece of clear plastic, to be specific.

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Manufactured and sold by Italian , the Louis Ghost Chair simplified the elegant lines of its predecessor into a seamless, geometric chair that could be molded out of a single piece of polycarbonate. Despite being like nothing else on the market, Starck’s Louis Ghost Chair was an instant success.

Surprisingly comfortable, it has graced the pages of high-end design magazines and cozied up to formal and modern furniture alike. Because the chair is transparent (though also produced in several color tints, solid matte white, and glossy black), it acts as a chameleon and can easily work in any space, no matter the design style or color palette. The ghost chair is just as appropriate around a dining room table as it is flanking a living room fireplace or tucked under a desk.

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The fact that the chair is see-through also makes it a brilliant small-space furniture solution. The (admittedly already slim) armchair takes up no visual space, so it doesn’t crowd a room, and light can pass through it, helping maintain the airiness of any sized space. An additional perk of the Louis Ghost Chair? Because it’s one solid piece of plastic without any joints or screws, the designer chair is inherently durable and can handle being left outside in the rain and cold. Oh, and did we mention they’re stackable?

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After such success with the Louis Ghost Chair, Starck didn’t end his plastic furniture design there. He went on to develop other pieces that would become part of the “,” as Kartell calls it. The Victoria Ghost Chair is a similarly shaped accent chair without arms, blending the antique-inspired back with the straight lines of the legs and seat. There’s also a Lou Lou Ghost (a mini Louis Ghost Chair for children, naturally), a Charles Ghost (a backless stool), a Ghost Buster (a squat bookshelf), and several other plastic relatives.

With such success also comes imitation. Kartell’s production of the Starck Louis Ghost Chair retails at $445 a piece, so it’s no surprise designers and furniture companies saw the demand for a more affordable version, as well as more transparent plastic furniture in general. Check out several more affordable options of the Louis Ghost Chair (and a few of its relatives), below.

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