Glass v Acrylic in Interior Design
These two materials can look really similar but have quite different characteristics in terms of manufacturing and different uses.
Glass can be prone to chipping at the edges and is heavy which makes it delicate to handle and ‘acrylic’ which most of us know by the trade name Perspex is less delicate to handle but can scratch more easily. Both are used for furniture making, screening and for staircases.
I have had a bespoke desk made in the past by the glass sculptor Danny Lane. He bolts sheets of glass together to form a laminated block and then chips away at the edges and sands them down so that they are jagged but not sharp. He is actually using the brittle nature of the glass edge in a decorative way. His furniture and decorative walls get their beauty from light reflecting off the edge of the layers and the green transparent glow. This is quite unique and stunning furniture but not the sort of thing you would choose if you had toddlers around who might walk into it or if you are planning a house move within a few years as the desk we had made was supported by a steel beam and bolted to the floor.
Acrylic is generally considered a better material to use if you have young children around as it is more flexible. If children bump into it the impact is a little less painful and it is less likely to shatter.
Amok designed a child’s 2 storey bed / playroom with a slide that had an ‘acrylic glass’ balustrade and upper barrier and gate which worked really well. The upper level was a play platform / sleeping area and had a slide so the barrier meant that they could play / sleep and slide safely.
We have also used acrylic light boxes that are generally used to make shop signs as decorative wall lighting for an entrance hall. We covered the boxes in 2 layers of different coloured opaque silks and it created a really interesting light effect. In different locations you saw different colours from the silk shining through giving a sort of 2 tone effect.
Glass however does have a beauty to it as it is far more reflective than acrylic. This gives it a precious quality in its natural green colour or in the ‘low mercury’ option where the glass edge appears more clear.
Acrylic and glass are often used together so that both of their qualities can be maximised. For example in the bespoke elliptical glass stairs that we had made for a penthouse apartment the entire stair was glass. Laminated treads to increase the glass strength in compression and sandblasted for grip. Except acrylic for the ninety degree curved balustrades as these would have been incredibly expensive to produce from glass.
‘Fusion glass’ make some incredible glass screens where fabrics are laminated in acrylic between glass sheets to make decorative and strong wall panels. They also make pure glass panels where any pattern of your choice can be imprinted into the screen with sand to create a beautiful textured panel or wall.