Ballistic Acrylic Art and Interior Design

Ballistic acrylic isn’t just being used to stop bullets. Thick, durable sheets of cell-cast acrylic–the same material used in bullet resistant installations–has made a comeback among high-end furniture designers. The idea of sitting on any sort of “glass”–even if it is “bullet proof”–probably seems both nerve wracking and uncomfortable. Acrylic enthusiasts point out that not only is the material very strong and durable–a standard 1.5-inch-thick slab can easily hold 300 pounds–but the plastic qualities make it possible to bend and form these chairs and tables into remarkably comfortable, organic shapes, contrary to their hard, gleaming surfaces.

Take, for example, this space-age recliner made by Aaron R. Thomas, crafted from reclaimed titanium rocket-engine parts and new ballistic acrylic:


In working ballistic acrylic, artists rely on many of the same techniques as bullet proof companies like Total Security Solutions. Aaron R. Thomas stands out among interior designers embracing ballistic acrylic for his mastery of traditional ballistic acrylic fabrication techniques. These skills are on fully display in his Acrylic ‘M’ Desk.

[/caption]Crafted from one-and-a-half-inch-thick American-made ballistic acrylic, this desk started out as standard sheets of acrylic, no different than a bank transaction window. Thomas and his team cut the pieces to size, then heated and bent the large slab into the graceful curve of the single-piece desktop/legs. The pieces to the small pull-out drawer were separately cut, routed, machined, and flame-polished prior to assembly. The results are unconventional, but the techniques are no different from those that go into making a quality package passer.


Thomas goes one step beyond the standard techniques of the ballistic-acrylic fabricator when he works with reclaimed ballistic glass. For example, Thomas used a large sheet of ballistic acrylic for this tabletop, working it with a hammer and chisel in order to bring out these beautiful conchoidal fractures (commonly seen in dark stone materials like flint and basaltic glass) in a crystal-clear medium.

reclaimed ballistic glassBallistic Glass TableThomas’s crowning achievement in reclaimed ballistic acrylic art is likely his series of Nest chandeliers, such as the one he built for this 2007 installation at Tiger Woods’s 10th annual TigerJam fund-raiser at the Mandalay Bay Casino in Las Vegas (which also featured Thomas’s more conventional ballistic acrylic chairs and coffee tables, similar to the M Desk).

Ballistic Glass Art Ballistic Glass Art

reclaimed ballistic glass

Here Thomas has completely transformed the reclaimed ballistic acrylic by heating and pulling it into long graceful curves and spirals, which he and his collaborator, Anne Ewen, then wove together.


While ballistic acrylic clearly lends itself to a space-age Buck Rogers decor–especially in the hands of Thomas and Ewen–designers and art critics are quick to point out the ballistic acrylic can be seamlessly integrated into a broad range of aesthetics and setting:

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