Luxury Coffee Tables: Iconic Mid-Century Design
As seasons pass, trends come and go. However, if there is one design style that can be described as truly iconic and timeless, it’s mid-century modernism. Since the first modernist designs were created in the Bauhaus and the studio of Le Corbusier, the style developed into a movement that defined the 40s and 50s. Now, mid-century furniture remains enduringly popular and these iconic pieces – chic sideboards, luxury coffee tables and stylish chairs – are collector’s items.
Furthermore, the mid-century design movement was influenced by technological innovation. As the era of mass production dawned, great design was brought to the average home. This achievement was summarised by legendary husband and wife duo Charles and Ray Eames, who aimed to get “the most of the best to the greatest number of people for the least amount of money.” Despite the functional nature of these pieces, mid-century design is now synonymous with good taste and luxury.
Some of the most ingenious and creative mid-century designs were for the living room. From the iconic Eames easy chair to chic teak sideboards, the living room was where mid-century designers excelled. In this article, discover iconic luxury coffee tables, designed by five mid-century greats which you may not have come across before.
Florence Knoll’s Iconic Hairpins
Hairpin table legs have been a key trend for a number of seasons now, however, you may not be familiar with where they originated. The hairpin table leg was first designed by American designer Florence Knoll, who with her husband, established their pioneering furniture brand Knoll. Knoll was a proponent of ‘total design’, the philosophy that every aspect of a living space should be integrated, from the furniture to the fabrics to architecture.
This holistic, comprehensive approach to design defined Knoll’s career, displaying her ingenuity and acumen. Knoll famously told the The New York Times, “I am not a decorator” – and she was, indeed, so much more. Now, you can still buy original Florence Knoll designs directly from Knoll, including high end coffee tables and her iconic stacking hairpin table.
Organic Forms by Isamu Noguchi
Japanese-American designer Isamu Noguchi defined his interior design as sculpture. Refusing to be limited by the parameters of a single discipline, Noguchi made sculptures, ceramics and furniture, all of which informed and influenced each other. Creating everything from domestic objects to large-scale public artworks, Noguchi created work using a plethora of materials, including steel, marble, iron, bronze, basalt and even water.
For example, his iconic 1947 design the ‘Noguchi Coffee Table’ mixed and matched materials, referencing the organic forms of his artwork. Consisting of a single glass surface and a biomorphic, elegantly twisted wood base, the Noguchi Coffee Table has a place firmly in design history. Now, the Noguchi Coffee Table is available in three different finishes including black ash, maple and walnut from Swiss retailers Vitra.
The Definitive Luxury Coffee Tables by Arne Jacobsen
A mid-century design legend on par with the Eames, Arne Jacobsen created some of the most recognizable designs of the mid-century. Born in Copenhagen in 1902, Arne Jacobsen became the godfather of Danish design through numerous significant commissions including St. Catherine’s College, Oxford, and his iconic design for the SAS Royal Hotel, Copenhagen. The SAS Hotel included his most famous design, the Egg easy chair, and was lauded as one of the most significant design achievements of the period.
Another advocate for total design, Arne Jacobsen designed everything from tables to chairs to cutlery. Subsequently, there is Jacobsen design for every room in the house, some of the most desirable of which is for the living room. For example, some of Jacobsen’s understated design classics have been coffee tables. These nuanced, simplistic yet high end coffee tables are now extremely collectible and are only available to buy from specialist dealers. For example, these low-key, sophisticated luxury coffee tables are available via the Design Market.
Chrome and Glass Creations by Milo Baughman
Milo Baughman has been described as one of the most adept American mid-century furniture designers. Baughman’s flair for design was evident from a young age, when at just 13, he drafted plans for the interior and exterior of his parent’s house in Long Beach, California. Similarly to his Californian contemporaries Charles and Ray Eames, Baughman’s furniture is light, airy and sleek. Refined, chic and simple, Baughman’s work incorporated many quintessential mid-century materials like chrome, leather, glass and beautiful knotted wood veneers.
For example, one of Baughman’s most famous designs is his gloriously understated yet futuristic chrome and glass coffee table. Teamed with buttery soft cream leather couches in his signature rounded forms, it is possible to bring relaxed, breezy Californian mid-century design to your living space. Original Milo Baughman pieces are now extremely difficult to come by, however, they occasionally appear on enthusiast’s websites. For example, these extraordinary chrome and glass luxury coffee tables are now available via 1stdibs.
Luxury coffee tables: Sculptural Pieces by Harry Bertoia
Italian jewelry and furniture designer Harry Bertoia was deeply embroiled in the mid-century design scene. Bertoia’s career began when he worked for Charles and Ray Eames. Bertoia was so close to the Eames, he designed their wedding rings. However, whilst working for them, Bertoia made significant contributions to the design of the Eames Chair, which went unrecognized. Frustrated with the lack of credit for the iconic work, Bertoia departed to work for east coast design company Knoll in 1950.
Whilst at Knoll, Bertoia was given the freedom to design whatever he pleased. It was under Florence and Hans Knoll that Bertoia created some of his most famous designs, including his signature wire collection. Including bar stools and armchairs, his wire furniture was airy, sleek and effortlessly stylish. When discussing his wire Diamond Chair, Bertoia said, “If you look at these chairs, they are mainly made of air, like sculpture.”
True enough, all Bertoia’s designs are a work of art – for example, the Bertoia Bench makes for an equally stylish coffee table as it does seating solution. As the first design Bertoia made during his tenure at Knoll, this piece is now available to buy from their online catalog.