Whether at work, buying groceries or in the world of politics – transparency has been the number-one buzzword for some time now and is demanded in almost all spheres of life. Designers and creatives, too, have rediscovered transparent materials. The runways at international fashion weeks are full of models with see-through blouses and bags. In today’s society, transparency is no longer just a statement of intent, but an enriching stylistic element of our everyday lives.
Subtlety and creative freedom
Openness, security, coldness and lightness – the word ‘transparency’ suggests an incredibly wide range of often paradoxical associations. On a design level, transparent materials offer plenty of scope for subtlety, variety and experimentation. Over time, transparency has matured into a stylistic element that now occupies a firm place in tableware, furniture design and the fashion world. Architects, too, are enthusiastic about the new see-through trend. Open-plan room concepts and large windows create a modern look. Visual emptiness encourages mental clarity and the subtle incidence of light soothes the soul.
Playing with glass
When it comes to materials, glass best symbolises the new trend towards transparency and is particularly interesting in combination with other materials. It has a sophisticated effect when combined with warm metals such as copper, brass and gold – for example in Crisbase’s table lamp made of clear diamond-look glass and brushed brass. Colourful glass crystals, on the other hand, make an almost grandiose statement with their opulence underlined by the play of light and use of reflective materials.
A real masterpiece can be seen in the luxury hotel The Fontenay in Hamburg. The dome of the hotel’s atrium consists of floor-to-ceiling panels in three shades with edge illumination. What is also impressive about this installation is that, despite the visual sensory overload, it makes the domed hall appear even more spacious.
Things don’t always have to be on the eccentric side, though. Understated accents can also increase the impact of glass. Vases and mirrors in warm colours such as those from Blomus and Miss Etoile, as well as plants in glass containers, suggest warmth and give a certain feeling of reassurance to the viewer.
Imperfection and opposites
In line with the trend towards a handcrafted look, transparent accessories by no means have to look flawless. Imperfections such as bubbles or bumps give them a livelier and warmer appearance. Naturalness and tactile qualities also make them easy to hold. Neon-coloured glass spheres work well with natural relief landscapes. Playing with contrasts is also wonderfully effective as transparent materials lend a sense of lightness, no matter how heavy the material – whether concrete, dark marble or dark wood.
The transparency trend has also found its way into our tableware giving added meaning to the saying: “You eat first with your eyes”. We not only want our meals to be attractively served, we also want to see what’s actually on the table. Transparent bowls and glasses aren’t able to hide anything, even when manufactured in amber or warm caramel tones.
Less strictly functional and more decorative are transparent accessories such as handles on solid ceramic tableware. The balanced mix of opaque and translucent offers a compromise between decoration and transparency. A particularly original example of this can be seen in the baroque-style Luna cutlery series from Rivadossi, in which little silver and gold flakes seem to float in their transparent handles.
Popular trends in tableware, furniture design and architecture are of course also present in the world of fashion. The see-through look is being featured this season by all the big fashion houses such as Chanel, Balenciaga, Marni and Céline. Transparent bags, shoes, coats and clothes made from plastic, mesh or tulle can be found hanging on the rails of almost every high-street boutique. In our view, this fashion trend, which at first glance seems unwearable and out of touch with reality, is entirely suitable for everyday use in the right combination. It is stylish and, above all, versatile because you can change the look simply by changing what you wear under the transparent layer. There are no limits to the possibilities in terms of colour and shape. The palette ranges from subtle discretion to maximum attention.