Take a Seat

French furniture designer Acrila breathes stylish life into plastic

Though the tale may be apocryphal, it’s been rumoured McDonald’s’ seating is carefully designed to maximise turnover by being comfortable under our collective tushes for around 20 minutes. There may be something to that: trying hanging at a McDonald’s and see how long you last. Chairs are deceiving. They’re harmless enough items, but it’s not as easy as it should be to find seating that is durable, easy to maintain, attractive to look at, complementary to the surrounding furniture and, above all comfortable.

Whatever the case may be, chairs are hard to match to a room when the goal isn’t a throne-like overstuffed armchair for reading and zoning out in front of the television. Mass produced chairs are simple to source and quick to get in the house, but are also just that: mass produced. Choices for outdoor furniture are even more limited if you’re hoping for something besides standard white. Very often we wind up with chairs that are “good enough” as opposed to ideal.

French acrylic furniture manufacturer Acrila is attempting to meet anyone and everyone’s seating needs. Founded by designer Jean- Christophe Bernard, Acrila creates novel, stylish and modern home furnishings, now available in Hong Kong only at Central’s Kitchens + Interiors, using a single sheet of thick, high quality Plexiglas. There are no seams, and the finished product — tables, stools and lamps in addition to chairs — is crystal clear. Slander polyester all you want, but the fabric was a textile revolution, without which half your clothes wouldn’t exist. The same can be said of acrylic, and Acrila is disproving the idea that plastic looks cheap. The chairs are comfortable despite their rigidity, they’re a snap to clean, and the material is suitable to all climates, for indoor or outdoor use.

But then the fun begins. Acrila’s team comprises a group of designers, which means creativity is key. The completed “raw” furniture is given a distinct touch when a specialised printer adds a piece of artwork — a pattern, colour, graphic, photo — on the back of the item. The result is a colourful, elegant or fun product specific to the space it’s going into. Gone are the days of the blue that’s almost right, or dull, boring kids’ rooms.

Currently, the company produces 18 themed lines as well as several designer-specific series, such as the pop arty JC de CASTELBAJAC line, the two-tone Sophie Villepigue line, and Patrick R Lavoix’s modern ornate. Acrila’s core series include the animalistic Wild range (think lions, and tigers and bears), the print graphics of the City range, an Outdoor line, which features a chair that recalls the laziness of an Adirondack/Muskoka lounger, and the Baroque range — exactly what you’d think it is and vaguely reminiscent of the palace at Versailles, were Versailles slightly more understated.

As an added bonus, Acrila produces custom furniture. Want an outdoor bar bench that looks like wood but holds up to rain like plastic? A particular “upholstery print” on your dining chairs? Feel like a logo or corporate name included on tabletops or seats for commercial spaces? Customisation is only limited by customer imagination — and may provide the only chance you’ll ever get to sit on Brad Pitt’s lap.