Coffee tables!

A place for your drink, or feet

The Coffee table. Photo: Julius Shulman / Getty Archives
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Above: A home in Wichita, Kansas, 1954. Photo: Julius Shulman / Getty Archive

The coffee table is very much a standard, even necessary, piece of home furnishing. Some experts believe the very first coffee table – that is a table made for the purpose of serving drinks in a lounge – was designed by E.W. Godwin of Britain in 1868, which was more like a taller side table. However, some say the Victorian fascination with Eastern cultures led many manufacturers of the time to copy the low tables popular in Japan. This is likely, at least in Europe, a more accurate source of the coffee table we are familiar with today.

coffee table EW godwin coffee table

The first coffee table? Designed for purpose of serving drinks in a lounge by E.W. Godwin of Britain in 1868. Photo: Christies

Coffee Table modern gallery

Terrazzo-topped coffee table designed by Paul Mccobb for Winchendon Furniture in 1955. Photo: Drew Kelly

Coffee Table modern gallery

Six piece coffee table designed by Peter Hvidt for France and Sons in 1952. Photo: Frank Landau

modern coffee table gallery

Glass-topped coffee table designed by Edward Wormley for Dunbar in 1953. Photo: Caroline Williamson

It would seem that in a relatively short period of time, historically speaking, a table in front of the couch has become requisite and as surely are every architect has designed at least one (often uncomfortable) chair every designer has designed at least one coffee table. So, put your feet up (if that is allowed in your house) and take a look at some coffee tables.

A gallery of some well known, and some lesser known, coffee tables. Click on the image for full view. Please note this is page one of a two page gallery - click the 'next' button at the bottom of this gallery to see page two.


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V. kagan!!!!
You know you see his designs when you see those legs.

Graham Christie
Graham Christie

Awesome post DC!

Bill Green
Bill Green

Not quite inline with modernism, but my mom took our large oak neoclassical dining table apart and placed it as a huge low slung coffee table- like she saw on “Bonanza” TV series in the ’60’s. As for me, i went on to first study architecture and then switched to graphic design as a major. I adopted modernism, but I will always remember my mom’s ingenuity.