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Why Phillipe Starck’s Ghost Chair Is Here For Eternity

There’s nothing more frightening than having to sit in a chair that looks stylish but feels uncomfortable. It’s certainly a trick. But Phillipe Starck’s Ghost Chair, has an understated elegance that’s a timeless treat. These chairs can easily blend into any space, from a kitchen or dining area to a living room, study or office. They can be the focal point or subtly blended in, or even camouflage themselves, depending on the way they’re styled.

According to chair expert, Julie Muniz, Ghost chairs derive their name from the transparent material they’re made from. “Made with clear plastic or glass, they virtually disappear in a room leaving behind a ghostly silhouette. Designers love them because they work with just about any décor and are especially good for small spaces.”

A Short History

While most people associate the Ghost chair with designer Philippe Starck, according to Muniz, the first chair to use that name was designed fifteen years earlier by Cini Boeri and Tomu Katayanagi. “In 1987 Boeri and Katayanagi created a monolithic lounge chair using a thick sheet of 12mm glass. The chair is as much a study in material as it is a bold statement. Boeri was bored designing chairs so she decided to create one that was invisible,” she says.

In 2002, Starck created what is commonly called a Ghost chair today, basing the design on a Louis XV style armchair. “Working with Kartell, Starck used injection-molded polycarbonate to create a transparent chair completely free from joinery. The combination of the historic style with the modern-day materials and construction makes the chair a post-modern tour de force” Muniz explains.

But the Louis Ghost chair wasn’t Starck’s first transparent chair. “In 1998 he designed his La Marie, a basic side chair made with clear or colored polycarbonate. In addition, furniture designers had been experimenting with clear plastics since the invention of Lucite in 1931. Art collector Helena Rubinstein had a complete bedroom set made of Lucite in the 1940s, including chairs. Later in the 1960s and 70s, Charles Hollis Jones designed Lucite furniture for Hollywood’s glitterati. The name Ghost, however, didn’t appear until 1987.”

Ghosts Are Everywhere

Interior designer Sormeh Rienne, who recently designed The Guild Hotel in San Diego, loves Ghost chairs for their virtually unparalleled versatility. “In a time where visual gratification is available to the masses, and over stimulation is just the appetizer, this chair truly is the perfectly paired wine. Whether you’re a minimalist or a maximalist, this chair works. The Ghost Chair is an ode, reference, and tribute in that it transcends time and place, sitting comfortably at timeless.” 

As for how Riehenne likes to style the chairs, she says they should have “a grand silent moment, making a very large impact in a very subtle way.”

She particularly likes the chair with warm-toned floors, crisp white walls, and plants, allowing it to be the feature of a corner. “Because of their comfort and versatility they can appropriately adorn most any situation, but my advice would be to truly allow the chair to have its moment.”

A Family Of Ghosts

The Louis Ghost has become so iconic, Starck and Kartell have created an entire line of Ghost products, all of which are available on Perigold. 

In addition to the transparent material, the Louis Ghost Arm Chair is made in several other colors including transparent green, smoke grey, orange, blue and straw yellow. There are also solid colors available include a glossy white and opaque black. Many people like to combine the original transparent with a solid color around a dining table for a more dramatic look. 

There’s also an adorably chic child-size version of the Louis called the Lou Lou chair.

The Victoria Ghost Chair is an armless version of the Louis but with straighter lines. 

Ghostbuster nightstands and tray tables are an easy way to integrate this transparent look into a bedroom. It beautifully compliments a wallpapered or boldly painted wall. 

But the ghost doesn’t stop there, Starck has also created a variety of transparent chairs, tables, and accessories such as mirrors for both indoor and outdoor use.

Around For Eternity

One legacy of this chair is that it can live forever. Ghost chairs are made of recyclable materials, so it’s an eco-friendly choice. However, it’s hard to image disposing of one. Luckily there’s a market for resale on sites such as 1stdibs

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