The origins of the coffee table

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Cocktail or coffee table? We may use these two words to talk about any table in front of a couch or sofa indistinctly. However, furniture experts would definitely argue that these 2 keywords describe different pieces of furniture, square or rectangular coffee tables, and round or oval cocktail tables. Let’s assume they do describe the same piece of furniture. But hey, do you know its origin? Do you think any change in our nowadays habits could make it evolve from the low and long table we centre in our living rooms today?


There are many different theories about its origin... Some may state that the very first coffee table shall be attributed to a deviation of the Victorian Era’s tea table in the late 19th century. When tea drinking became extremely popular in England, demand increased for a little tall table that would stand beside any chair arrangement to hold a tea set and help to enjoy a delicious cup of tea any time. They were later made lower, rectangular and replicated throughout Europe. It began to be centred in living rooms, due to TV centrism. However, in 1938 Joseph Aronson defined the coffee table as "Low wide table now used before a sofa or couch. There is no historical precedent...," insinuating there was no furniture precedent for that piece of furniture.  


With the predominance of mobile devices such as laptops and mobile phones that are reducing TV’s screen hours, small living spaces, and dynamic lifestyles, coffee tables have evolved a lot. I’ve seen compact coffee tables, folding coffee tables, 2 tier coffee tables for extra storage, lift coffee tables,...

How do you think they’ll evolve in the future? Or will they stay the same? Will we keep calling them coffee tables?


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