Plexiglas Design is known for founder Rolando Pettinari's "deep passion, fifty years of experience, and resulting invaluable skills, [as well as his] unrelenting focus on detail and high quality," says Pettinari's son and collaborator, Marco.

Rolando Pettinari, founder of Plexiglas Design



n the 1970s, after spending several years working at the first cast acrylic factory in Italy, designer Rolando Pettinari decided to launch his own brand. Pettinari was ambitious, and the demand for plexiglass was only increasing — the factory where he worked was overwhelmed with orders, and outsourced their production for campers to him. By the end of the decade, he had expanded into designing and producing furniture. In the 1950s and 60s, the introduction of plastics into the mass market had transformed trends in furniture design, as consumers craved home goods crafted from light and modern materials. However, in the 1970s, when Pettinari was first designing luxury furniture, acrylic oscillated globally between high-design objects and low-end imitations. Over the next few decades, whenever luxury acrylic furniture slid out of favor, Pettinari focused exclusively on industrial design, allowing his skill to further develop outside the eye of the furniture design community.

In 2021, handmade acrylic furniture is in high demand, and colorful plexiglass pieces combine the purity of the form with a vibrant, maximalist punch of color. As in prior decades, few other brands can approach Pettinari’s expertise in working with color, a process which involves carefully gluing thin sheets of colored plastic between clear cast acrylic blocks. His reputation for color and craftsmanship has led to collaborations with legendary designers and studios including Jean-Claude Farhi, Hervé van der Straeten, and Studio Superego, and production for global luxury brands Louis Vuitton, Cartier, and Dolce & Gabbana. 

"My inspiration is mainly instinctive, " he says. "Shapes and colors blend together in my mind without thinking much about it, a bit like a child does when he is assembling his Lego brick toys. But once I have done that, the  challenge is to find the technical solutions to transform that vision into a real, flawless piece of work." 

At 76, he is as dedicated to his work as ever. “He’s been living and breathing this material since he was very young," says Marco Pettinari, Rolando's son, an independent designer and artist known for his acrylic work who occasionally collaborates with his father's brand, as shown by the sculpted Glacialis center table. Plexiglas Design — the furniture arm of the senior Pettinari's most recent acrylic production company, Poliedrica — operates a small studio based in Pomezia in central Italy, where the team crafts each elegant furniture piece by hand. 

Read on for the colorful details on five ultra-chic pieces from Plexiglas Design.

Tronetto Acrylic Armchair

The color stripes across the Tronetto's chairback resemble the rays of a rising sun.

Contemporary and exuberant, the Tronetto armchair was named after the Italian word for "throne." To create the chair, artisans in the workshop shape the layered acrylic sheets and clear blocks, and join the resulting components into the form of a regal armchair. "It's a long and difficult process, requiring a high level of skill and experience," says Rolando Pettinari. "But with an astonishing result." To develop a color scheme for the chair, the Plexiglas Design team was inspired by one of history's most famous kings, Louis XIV, know as the "Sun King." "As a result, we decided for vivid colors a bit like the rays of a rising sun," he says. Thoughtful details, like half-moon cut-outs on the chair's base enhance the visual appeal.

Millerighe Acrylic Console Table

The Millerighe console from Plexiglas Design features a spectrum of colors that seem to interact differently with each other as the viewer moves around the table.

Measuring slightly over 49 inches in length, the Millerighe console is handcrafted in Plexiglas Design's studio in Pomezia. Millerighe translates literally to "a thousand stripes," but is also used to refer to pinwale corduroy, and the sweep of very narrow bands of color on the console top is the source of the name. The fluorescent yellows, oranges, and blues appear to blend together as you look across the surface, creating an intriguing optical effect. The table can be customized in different sizes to fit the client's space. "The challenge was to use many joyful colors, while keeping a certain sophistication in the final product," says Pettinari.

The Kiss Lucite Table Lamp

The Kiss table lamp plays with the perspective of the viewer.

The Kiss table lamp was inspired by the Brancusi sculpture of the same name. Reflecting the cubist elements of the iconic sculpture, two opposing blocks of plexiglass stand parallel to each other, joined visually by a central radiant rectangle. A black acrylic base supports the fixture. In height, the fuchsia light measures just under two feet (22.05 inches), and requires between four and six weeks to produce by hand.

Baiadera Acrylic Dining Table

From certain angles, the colors in the Baiadera dining table seem to blend together.

The warm, saturated hues in the Plexiglas dining tables of the Baiadera collection were influenced by the colorful costumes worn by dancers at Hindu temples. Pettinari and his team took their inspiration from the poem "The God and the Bailadeira," by Goethe, later set to music by Schubert, which recounts a love story set in southern India. A clean-lined rectangular shape and clear acrylic sides temper the table's rainbow color scheme, giving the piece an elegant effect. Like other designs in the Baiadera line, the table shown above is entirely unique.

Stumble II Acrylic Console 

The Stumble II console finds beauty in asymmetry.

"The idea that inspired this piece of work is the sense of 'instability," says Pettinari. The top of the Stumble II console was designed as a collage of color, with brilliant stripes separated by clear acrylic. "It feels like being inside a kaleidoscope," he says. The two sets of tripod legs face in opposite directions. Complementing the asymmetrical artistry of the design, the precise craftsmanship brings a sense of unity to the console. The table is one of a kind and belongs to a limited-edition collection, which includes the first Stumble console.