Bakelite Ashtray

Bakelite, the first synthetic plastic, was invented by Belgian chemist Leo Baekeland in 1907. It was a revolutionary material that quickly became popular in the decorative arts due to its durability, versatility, and affordability. Bakelite was used to make a wide range of decorative objects, including jewelry, buttons, clocks, radios, and telephones.

In the 1920s and 1930s, Bakelite was at the height of its popularity in the decorative arts. Its unique properties allowed designers to create intricate and colorful pieces that were both functional and aesthetically pleasing. Bakelite jewelry, in particular, was highly sought after and remains popular among collectors to this day.

Despite its initial success, Bakelite eventually fell out of favor as newer, more advanced plastics were developed. However, its impact on the decorative arts cannot be overstated. Bakelite paved the way for the development of other synthetic materials and revolutionized the way designers approached their craft. Today, Bakelite remains an important part of the history of the decorative arts and a testament to the ingenuity of its inventor, Leo Baekeland.