Episode 020: Allen Frechter & Plexi-Craft
EPISODE 020: ALLEN FRECHTER & PLEXI-CRAFT
Allen Frechter and his company Plexi-Craft have been designing and fabricating custom acrylic furniture, fixtures and accessories to serve residential, commercial, retailer and hospitality customers. Their specialty is custom crafted items based on our clients’ own designs, and they also modify or scale to order any of the pieces in our portfolio.
Plexi-Craft is unique among custom acrylic furniture manufacturers, having been located in New York City since its founding in the 1960s. Many of the “mid-century” acrylic antiques you see at vintage furniture shops were made by Plexi-Craft. In addition, the company has been owned and managed by one family since 1972.
“My father George Frechter bought Plexi-Craft that year,” relates President Allen Frechter, “and the business has grown ever since.”
George’s timing was perfect. In the 1970’s, Lucite and Plexiglas furniture was extremely popular as a design feature in many rooms and homes.
“I remember early on when rapid growth had my whole family working on weekends,” Frechter recounts. “We were originally located in the lower East Side of Manhattan, and I would be there along with my parents, brothers and two cousins. As a teenager I always marveled at how many ways acrylic could be put to use. It still amazes me.”
“I think there was a time when it was probably overused because of the novelty of it,” Frechter recalls. “Back then people would outfit an entire room, or even a home, in all acrylic pieces. But when that period began to fade in the early 1980’s was when thoughtful design really came into play.”
That coincided with the design community beginning to see acrylic as a multi-functional material. By the 1990’s, acrylic furnishings had become more of a staple in room design, used to complement other furnishings.
“Now,” says Frechter, “designers consider acrylic much as they do steel, granite, and wood. It’s another tool or material in their kit of resources. They want a fabricator who can make anything they need out of acrylic. That’s where we shine.”
Over the years Plexi-Craft has earned a name among custom acrylic furniture manufacturers for being highly reliable yet creative and eager to stretch the boundaries of what is possible for clients.
That reputation for creativity is due in part to the Plexi-Craft in-house design team. At any point in time they are lending their expertise to clients ranging from retail outlets seeking highly functional display items, to award-winning interior designers and style-conscious consumers.
“I refer to the design team as our wizards,” smiles Allen Frechter. “Given a client sketch or written description, they envision the final form and translate it into a workable design.” Whether it’s a client’s own design or a modification of an existing piece, that’s where the technicians in the on-site factory take up the task of working their own magic.
“When we say handcrafted, we mean it,” Frechter explains. “Our most hi-tech device is a band saw. Everything we touch is hand fitted and worked to precision. Our craftsmen are respected here like artisans, and that’s one of the reasons they love working on these pieces.”
With an average tenure of more than a decade, their experience and skill shines through in every piece.
All that ingenuity and precision might lead one to expect huge delays in getting a piece produced.
“Quite the opposite,” informs Frechter. “If a designer or architect will involve us early in their plans, we can help them reduce the overall timeline for incorporating the material into their work. We know how projects typically proceed, and have decades of experience preventing rework and bottlenecks. Every person here is focused on communicating well with each customer so they get what they want, in a timeframe that we can commit to.”
Clients seem to like this combination of creative ability, handcrafted attention to detail and superior customer service. Repeat customers and referrals have grown the business for five decades.
“I think that’s why clients entrust us with their acrylic needs, and their referrals, year after year,” says Frechter. “It’s a winning combination of creative thinking and reliable production. That’s a formula we don’t tinker with.”
ABOUT JAMES SWAN
James Swan is an award-winning interior designer and author. He has spent the past 18 years, crafting classically influenced interiors for homes, restaurants, hotels and retail stores. His work has been featured in House & Garden, House Beautiful, The Los Angeles Times, The Boston Globe and The Chicago Tribune and his book “101 Things I Hate About Your House” won the 2011 American Bookseller’s Award.