Acrylic was invented in 1902 by Otto Röhm, a German chemist, but its mass production did not begin until 1933, when Röhm GmbH (currently Evonik Degussa GmbH) began to market it under the Plexiglas® brand. Also known as ACRYLITE®, Lucite®, and Perspex®, acrylic is noted for its unparalleled transparency among polymers. It is also BPA-free and a food-grade material commonly used for outdoor serveware.
Not long after Plexiglas became available, Plastic Productions Company of Redwood City, California began to manufacture housewares using acrylic sheets. These products were primarily black in color, although they also carried a gray tone created by the graining process during production. As a result, the products were initially marketed under the ‘Gray n Ware’ brand, later changed to ‘Grainware’. Charles McCrea, who owned the Plastic Productions Company, was also its chief product designer. In June of 1951, the Museum of Modern Art in New York (MOMA) acquired a number of Grainware products, where they remain on display to this day.
In 1971, the Plastic Productions Company was acquired by SiLite Inc., a housewares and giftware manufacturer based in Chicago, Illinois. Under its president, Robert Parmacek, SiLite introduced new products made using clear acrylic sheets under the Grainware brand, which were wildly successful. Consequently, Grainware became known as a brand of predominantly clear acrylic products.
The next transformation of the Grainware brand came in the late 1970s, when Mr. Parmacek changed Grainware’s production process from vacuum forming of acrylic sheets to injection molding of acrylic resins. This was facilitated by a serendipitous visit by Mr. Parmacek to Jolly Tone Enterprise, a boutique manufacturer of injection-molded crystalline acrylic products in Taiwan. Jolly Tone’s unparalleled technical capability allowed new and intricate designs to be mass-produced, and thus solidified Grainware’s image as a brand of unique, high-end giftware and housewares.
In 1991, Carlisle Companies Inc. acquired SiLite Inc. and the Grainware brand, but Jolly Tone remained the primary manufacturer of Grainware products. The link between Grainware and Jolly Tone was cemented in 1993, when a joint venture between Jolly Tone and Carlisle was established in Tianjin, China to manufacture Grainware and Carlisle Food Service products. In 2012, Jolly Tone acquired the Grainware brand in partnership with William Bounds Ltd of Torrance, California to improve logistical management and consolidate marketing efforts.
For the past thirty years, Grainware has enjoyed a reputation as high-end crystalline acrylic products that combine unique and technically challenging designs that simply see no competition on the market. Each Grainware product is a piece of functional art made of acrylic, created with care and precision. Grainware products have been featured in many high-end social events and movie sets, and their unparalleled quality ensure many years of enjoyment for its customers.