Our love affair with plastic is complex one. We love its durability, mouldability, affordability and tendency not to weigh a ton. On the other hand plastic waste is a growing environmental problem, at sea and on land, because it doesn't biodegrade. And it is, of course, derived from oil.
But for most of us, the advantages of plastic far outweigh the disadvantages, particularly as plastics have become increasingly easy to recycle. Good quality plastic scores highly in the longevity stakes – it lasts for decades - and its durability is pretty hard to beat. Its colour retention is brilliant and it couldn't be easier to maintain since you just need to wipe it over with a damp cloth.
All of which explain the success of Resol, which has been in plastics manufacturing for more than 50 years and is synonymous with top quality contemporary furniture for in/outdoor by some of the great names in modern design: Jorge Pensi, Josep Lluscá, Joan Gaspar and Ton Haas.
Innovation is at the heart of the company and it strives to push the boundaries in terms of shape that can be achieved using thermoplastic injection moulding. You see this with the newly launched stackable Toledo Aire chair, originally designed in 1988 by Jorge Pensi in cast aluminium, but now available in polypropylene. More to the point this chair for Resol's Barcelona Dd brand, has been produced from a single piece of injected polypropylene – one of the most widely and easily recycled plastics.
Resol specialises in furniture for the hospitality and contract sectors and exports more than 50 per cent of products to some 100 countries. The group has four brands:
Barcelona Dd, which offers contemporary designer seating and tables. Chairs are produced using injection moulding techniques.
Vilagrasa, which specialises in products for offices/public areas including benches, planters, desk accessories, coat racks, merchandising/display equipment. It also offers the Bob and Club furniture collections which are made from rotation-moulded polyethylene.
Resol Garden, which comprises stylish furniture collections and loungers for hotels and leisure outlets as well as the residential market.
Resol Contract, which offers a wide variety of products for large hospitality clients.
All products are manufactured at Resol's state-of-the-art 40,000m2 plant in Girona, just north of Barcelona. It does work with rotation-moulded polyethylene and polyethylene/fibreglass mixes, but Resol predominantly uses gas-assisted injection moulding technology, which allows it to produce hollow shapes and very slender component parts such as chair legs.
Indeed Resol's customers like the elegance and proportions of the plastic furniture it's able to manufacture, which give a sophistication to a genre of furniture traditionally associated with being simple, cheerful and throwaway. Barcelona Dd's latest designs, including ONA by David Carrasco Barceló, Lyza by Ton Haas and the Skin stool by Josep Lluscá, demonstrate this perfectly.
The advantages of injection-moulding are that it's quick and easy to produce in high volume, while little finishing to the product is required after the moulding. Hence furniture can be offered at far more competitive prices than products that need several manufacturing processes and more input from the human hand.
You could say the humble plastic chair owes a debt of gratitude to Resol, which has taken it on a journey from awkward teenager to confident grown-up, producing furniture that's fun, sexy, and versatile but also hard-wearing and practical. Restaurants, terraces, office, classroom, common rooms... they all look vibrant and inviting with colourful seating from Resol.