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What is a Lucite Coffee Table?

By Tara Barnett
Updated May 16, 2024
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A lucite coffee table, sometimes called an acrylic coffee table, is a low table made of a material called poly(methyl methacrylate), which is often abbreviated as PMMA. This material experienced increased popularity during periods that emphasized curves and mod designs, but it can be used to make unique and traditional shapes of furniture. Often, a lucite coffee table will be clear like glass and will have no hard corners except at the edges of the lucite sheet. These items strive to look as though they are flowing and gently bent into the shape of the desired furniture. Although many items made of lucite are clear, it is possible to tint, paint, or otherwise color lucite as well.

In most cases, a lucite coffee table will be relatively strong and difficult to damage. They are generally inexpensive, although tables made by notable designers will be more expensive than those bought in furniture stores. In many cases, it is possible to find an interesting and unique lucite coffee table at a used furniture store or even an antique store, as this material has been around for years. An antique lucite coffee table can be beautiful and historically valuable, particularly if one is interested in space age or art deco furniture and design.

For some lucite projects, this material is combined with others in order to create particular effects. For instance, making a coffee table by putting a wood top on lucite legs will make the wood appear to float. Making a table by using a lucite top on a wood base can make whatever is under the table into a focal point. One might even place a lucite window in the middle of a wood table to create a window to whatever is below. Lucite is strong and can be combined with other heavy or strong materials by a skilled craftsman.

Steps in making a lucite coffee table might include casting, carving, or other shaping techniques. Color may be applied using a thin film or may be painted on. Lucite can also be engraved. If one is looking for a particular kind of lucite coffee table, there are a number of businesses that specialize in creating custom lucite products.

Some artists now use lucite as a material to create coffee tables that both embrace and comment on the material's popularity during the 1930s. For this purpose, lucite is used to create a piece of furniture shaped as one might shape wood or even metal. Its shape becomes traditional, but the material points to a space-age tradition of design. These pieces of furniture also demonstrate that lucite is not limited to the usual coffee table designs in which it is used.

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