Side tables are simple, practical, and often decorative companions, not only at home, but increasingly in an office environment too, especially in lounge areas and waiting rooms. Their relatively simple functional requirements mean that designers are free to experiment, producing an incredible diversity of side tables.
Charles and Ray Eames take the sculptural route in their 1960 ‘Eames Stool’ series for Vitra, which features three turned, walnut side tables. Jasper Morrison and Vitra revisit this concept with the 2004 ‘Cork Family’, which also has three sculptural, pared-down variations, albeit made of cork.
In some cases, designers will include additional, functional features in their design. For example, Eileen Gray’s supremely elegant 1927 ‘Adjustable Table E1027’, now manufactured by ClassiCon, combines a sleek, tubular steel skeleton with a circular, clear-glass tabletop and a height-adjusting mechanism. And though Jürg Steiner’s and Dirk Uptmoor’s 2009 ‘Newstown 17777’ side table for System 180 has a rougher, scaffolding-like structure, it incorporates magazine racks.
Paolo Lomazzi’s and Donato D’Urbino’s ‘T-Tap’ for Rexite combines a folding, steel-rod construction with castors and aluminium shelves into a mobile, easy-to-store side table.
Karim Rashid tries to dematerialise his 2013 ‘Veer’ side table for Tonelli by fashioning it from glass. In addition, the tabletop is independent from the base, which can be rotated to create a small storage space for books and magazines.
Marcel Breuer uses the material properties of tubular steel and construct a pair of light, cantilever side tables in his 1933 ‘B 97 a | b’. Matthias Ferwager’s 2011 ‘Minimato’ for Moormann also explores structural principles by featuring an expressive, slanted, wooden support, complemented by thinner elements on the side, which provide the side table with stability.
Lastly, addressing formal concepts, Boca do lobo’s 2008 ‘Coolors tables | Shield side table’ explores a traditional, decorative aesthetic, with a turned central support and a cabriole tripod base, though it is rendered in bright, bold colours. On the other hand, Alvar Aalto’s 1935 ‘Table 90B’ for Artek is an early exercise in Scandinavian democratic design: simple, stripped-down, and delightfully informal.