3 Oct

The end of an era – Chrome

You won’t walk in to too many offices where chrome doesn’t have at least a minor presence.  Chrome was also popular in residential furniture in the 80’s, think chrome and glass tables, chrome and leather cantilever chairs, etc.

The shiny coating, normally over stainless steel, gives a slick polish popular in office fit-outs in particular and has been popularised to the point of saturation. However, due to awareness around its potential negative health impact, chrome is beginning to fall out of favour.

As interior designers, we have always sought to inform our clients on the ethical and sustainable manufacture. Unfortunately, chrome has been shown to pose hazards to both the environment and human health during manufacturing processes.

A report from Sourceable.net says Chromium (which is applied to a surface to give its ‘chrome’ appearance) has been classified as a carcinogen by the US Environmental Protection Agency and those who work regularly in the manufacture process of chrome plating are at risk of inhaling the compound and the substance can also contaminate groundwater and drinking water.

If you enquire as to materials used in various items of furniture, you will soon see that it is hard to find new chrome pieces these days. The market has already responded to these health issues and now polished metals such as nickel, aluminium and stainless steel are utilized instead of chrome, whilst maintaining the same aesthetic appearance.

If you have chrome pieces, they can still be restored within Australia at various electroplating manufacturers. So don’t discard any chrome as it’s not a health hazard in the home, but we certainly wouldn’t recommend any DIY chrome kits that seem to be available online.

If you have any queries about restoration of chrome furniture, please drop into our showroom to discuss.