Side tables are modest, occasional tables that are placed at the side of a sofa or an armchair. Typically, small household objects, such as plants, small ornaments, or a solitary book can be placed on a tabletop, perhaps to be picked up again, or left there as a small display.
Its humble function and small size means that a side table can just as easily become a small sculpture. Gerrit Rietveld’s ‘643 Schroeder 1’ by Cassina is a prime example of a neoplastic dissolution of space by means of geometry and colour.
Vitra’s ‘Eames stool’, designed in 1960 by Charles and Ray Eames, takes a wholly different approach. With its graceful profile and a solid walnut body, it is simultaneously a small pedestal, a stool, a side table and a decorative artistic object in its own right.
Contemporary side tables are often even more restrained, with tribú’s ‘Elle’, ‘Roots’ and ‘Lui’ being solid blocks of wood with curved, prismatic or convex sections respectively; and Riva 1920’s ‘Twinset’ consists of either two prisms or cylinders, shifted slightly off-centre and stacked onto one another.
An early modernist classic, Eileen Gray’s round ‘Adjustable Table E 1027’ from 1927, whose glazed tabletop is height adjustable, is still available, as is Marcel Breuer’s instantly recognisable, tubular steel ‘Laccio Table’ by Knoll International, originally designed for the Bauhaus School, and his series of bent plywood ‘Isokon Nesting Tables’.
Practical concerns are addressed in KFF’s ‘Nl side table’, whose steel frame supports a wooden tabletop beside a leather news rack. Christoph Böninger provides storage space too, within the bends of his sculptural aluminium ‘Side table’ for Auerberg. And for a sober, but traditional, option, look to Kaare Klimt’s 1943 ‘Coffee Table 6687’ for Rud. Rasmussen, where a circular tabletop hides a square bottom plate underneath.
And while a side table can be a serious artistic statement, as demonstrated by Bruno Rainaldi’s ‘TAB.U’, a cylindrical sculpture from wrinkled polished aluminium for Opinion Ciatti, or Thomas Sandell’s stark, marble zig-zag ‘Tiltino’ for Marsotto Edizioni, more tongue-in-cheek options, such as Front’s plastic, life-size ‘pig table’ for moooi, are also available.