Translucence occupies a middle ground between transparency and solidity, bestowed with the unique ability to divide spaces without completely closing them off. When used in our interiors, translucent materials are capable of softening and diffusing light, blurring specific areas, or adding depth and texture to a space when used in translucent furniture.

This article will explore the translucent materials that inspire the LIV Design Studio team, examining interior design from across the globe as well as examples from our own work that have contributed to our own understanding of translucence.

[Pictured in header: Study Rooms at Concord Sky by Concord Adex]

Intrigue through Obfuscation

"Using translucent materials can allow natural light to pass through and fill a space, which can create a bright and inviting atmosphere. This can be achieved by using a frosted glass door or partition to allow natural light to pass through while still providing privacy."
– Rondo Leung, Interior Designer at LIV Design Studio

Translucent materials are perhaps most at home when used as dividers or partitions. In this form, they give interior designers the freedom to fulfill the practical purpose of creating privacy, without making the separated space feel removed from the whole.

Moreover, the sheer variety of translucent materials available today affords another dimension of creative expression in the design process. Different textures and tints can completely change the feel of a space by bending the light within to the designer's will.

In these sample renders from 3form, a Seattle-based lighting fabrication & design studio, one can see the power of translucent materials to contribute to and even dictate the overall energy of a room. In the left example, the 'Alta' colourway sets a moody tone in this refined, professional environment – lending an aura of mistake to a subtly designed boardroom. On the right, 'Cedarwood' tinted glass serves a similar role, however, its warm tones bring an elegant homeyness to the more casual seating area.

[Pictured here: 2023 Colour Collection from 3form]

Endless Shades of Possibility

"Translucent materials can be tinted or coloured, which can be used to create a specific atmosphere or mood to suit a variety of needs & purposes."
– Rondo Leung, Interior Designer at LIV Design Studio

Transluence exists on a continuum, not as a fixed state. As trends come and go, translucent materials have evolved alongside them, taking on ever more luminous shades with all manner of textures made possible by rapid advancements in technology.

Resin is one material that has truly come to the forefront as of late, fueled by its falling prices compared to more costly materials, as well as its flexibility, structural integrity, and the advent of 3D printing. 3form has been a leader in this respect, producing optical grade resin panelling that provides more clarity than you'd typically see, in vivid shades that can be used for everything from tables, benches, and counters, to shelving and partitions. Here, you can see just some of the many hues and textures of 3form's 'Chroma' material in all their vibrant glory.

[Pictured here: 2023 Colour Collection from 3form]

A Quiet Place – Why LIV Loves Translucent Materials

"Another purpose of translucence is to soften light. Using translucent materials in partitions or lighting fixtures can create a soft and diffused light, which can greatly enhance the mood and atmosphere of a space."
– Rondo Leung, Interior Designer at LIV Design Studio

Some areas simply require a bit of privacy – such as this Study Room at Concord Sky in Downtown Toronto. Delineating these rooms while allowing those within to enjoy the ample natural light from the adjacent floor-to-ceiling windows was the perfect opportunity to employ translucent materials.

Slightly distorting the contents of the intimate rooms, translucent fluted glass adds a pleasingly grainy texture to the pared-down, wooden furnishings found inside the barely obscured Study Rooms. Light fixtures within illuminate the various textures, appearing like light boxes often used to capture photography.

For those studying or working, the gentle light provides a connection to nature while lending the perfect light for mindful reading. The soft ripple pattern created by the glass partitions diffuses light throughout without the need to worry about concentrated beams or overly bright lighting interrupting focus.

[Pictured here: Study Rooms at Concord Sky by Concord Adex, designed by LIV Design Studio]

Colour & Shape

In any number of contexts, translucent materials have the unique ability to bring objects and areas into focus, even when deliberately blurring them. Altering the way we perceive space is the primary modus operandi of translucence in our interiors, with results that range widely from technicolour furnishings to opulent, towering structures housing elegant merchandise.

Shown first is a deconstruction of a Fluted Glass Table from THINKK Studio, based in Bangkok, Thailand. Highlighting the different angles and varied textures of this whimsical piece, the manifold uses of this lively piece are left to the viewer's imagination. The LIV Design Studio team envisions this piece taking centre-stage amid more subtle interiors, perhaps perched atop a delicately patterned carpet with a greyscale couch and vintage light wood chairs.

The interiors at Radius 58 Optics, designed by DA Bureau, create a futuristic environment that matches the lively aura of the modern spectacles and sunglasses contained within. Descending from cool steel blues to warm, sunset-esque pinks and oranges, the rounded, fluted polycarbonate ties together the stone walls and glazed pink floors, putting the focus on the merchandise in the process, leaning on the reflections seen in the full-length mirrors.

Finally, Mulberry's Regent Street Flagship, designed by Toogood Interior Design, uses translucent materials as the backbone for its displays. Clouded, fluted glass cases encircle practically the interior showroom, with mirrors widening the space further and creating interesting angles that provoke curiosity about the luxury handbags that are just barely masked, waiting for shoppers to unearth them.

[Pictured left to right: Fluted Glass Table from Thinkk Studio; Radius 58 Optics, designed by DA Bureau and photographed by Sergey Melnikoff; Mulberry Regent Street, designed by Toogood Interior Design and photographed by FRENCH+TYE Photography & Genevieve Lutkin]


Translucent materials can be both mysterious, partially cordoning off areas while leaving some part of them visible, or they can take a much more active role, as seen through the more colourful examples shown in this article.

Drawing a comparison to LIV Design Studio's own work, the custom 'Ode to Canada' ceiling installation at The ARC Vancouver uses partially opaque stretched fabric from Barrisol to capture the rich colours and intricate shapes of this complex installation. The result is a project-defining piece that bathes light on every room below it, while also being partially visible from street level.

The fundamentally intertwined relationship between translucent materials and light is one avenue of interior design of which the surface has only been scratched. As designers and architects continue to find new ways to employ this in-between state, our understanding of how space is created will subtly shift over time. In brief, though as humans we often seek out privacy, we also require ways to define space without eliminating light. In this regard, translucence can be viewed as the much-needed middle-ground between closed and open.

[Pictured here: 'Ode to Canada' Ceiling Installation at The ARC Vancouver, designed by LIV Design Studio]

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