Lacquer Is Back—Here’s How Designers Are Reimagining the Finish’s Potential

January 7, 2024
1 min read
Lacquer Is Back—Here's How Designers Are Reimagining the Finish’s Potential

“We use it in almost every project,” explains Aurélien Raymond, one half of Paris-based duo Akademos, who has used lacquer on headboards, dressers, tables, doorways, and more. In his business partner Costanza Rossi’s Paris flat, the duo applied it to bookshelves in the living room to create what he calls a “wow effect.” “We generally use it to underline details we wish people to notice through our interiors,” he explains. “The human eye is naturally drawn to shininess.”

More practically, though, that shine can work wonders to enlarge a space, adding more depth to otherwise petite rooms. Mexican French designer Hugo Toro’s own, rather compact Paris apartment is an enviable example. “I used lacquer in a yellow shade to visually enlarge the space by emphasizing the vertical lines,” he explains of the flat, where the dining table, console, and more are also slicked in shine. In Toro’s buzzy redo of Villa Albertine in New York, he used decorative wall panels made with crackled lacquer. “It captures light and creates variations throughout the day, bringing a mysterious or boudoir atmosphere,” he explains.

A lacquered ceiling dining table and console in Hugo Toro's Paris apartment

A lacquered ceiling, dining table, and console in Hugo Toro’s Paris apartment

Matthieu Salvaing

EJR Barnes Emergency Best Friend Cocktail Plinth.

EJR Barnes’ Emergency Best Friend Cocktail Plinth.

Joe Kramm

EJR Barnes, a London-based designer, traces the trend to, “a strong resurgence of interest in the weirder corners of the Deco Moderne movement.” It’s an idea he explored in his recent solo show at New York’s Emma Scully Gallery, in which industrial materials like stainless steel were set with cast glass, horsehide upholstery, and, yes, lacquer. In particular, his Emergency Best Friend Cocktail Plinth, designed to hold champagne flutes, caught our eye. “A high gloss lacquer finish felt like the best way to cement a certain elegance in the work,” he explains of the decision, the first time he’s used lacquer to this effect.

“I think the trend for lacquer finishes at the moment also has to do with a want to use certain strong colors in a way that feels classic and not too shouty,” he continues. “It has that slightly off-kilter, early 20th-century elegance that is so particularly well loved at the moment.” But Barnes is looking to push the craze into the next age, with plans to explore less traditional applications of lacquer in his work. Applying it to door frames or ceilings less precisely with a brush, perhaps? “That feels quite anarchic in comparison to these hyper-revered smooth and shiny objects of the past.”

Shop the Finish

Cinzia Lacquered Green Candle Holders

Small Gazebo Side Table by Veere Grenney

Rainbow Lacquer Large Tray

Purple Lacquer Bamboo Standing Lamp by Christopher Spitzmiller

Modern Gloss Lacquer Bar Cabinet

Brighton Coffee Table by Miles Redd

Orchidée Mirror by Roland Mellan

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