No living room would be complete without its centerpiece: the coffee table. As a focus for family, friends, football and fun, the coffee table can’t be beat… but it CAN be OFFbeat, as these 15 creative coffee table designs show so well.
Noguchi Throws Down the Coaster
It’s hard to say what the first piece of furniture worthy of the name “coffee table” was or where it was conceived but for most of us the term brings up an image of the iconic Noguchi coffee table. First produced in 1944 in association with the Herman Miller company, Isamu Noguchi’s tour de force is a simple, organic, ultimately pleasing design that set the bar for urban cool.
Bring On the Coffee Cats
Noguchi’s very basic coffee table design has inspired numerous copies – or should we say homages? – over the last 60-odd years. The Moebius, Butterfly and Cross tables are all undeniably interesting but at the same time face a frustrating conundrum: how does one improve a superb minimalist design whose signature feature is its simple magnificence?
This dynamic coffee table design from Canada’s SIDD Fine Woodworking makes you think for a moment before setting down your mug o’ java. Better use a coaster before you do – each Domino is constructed by a single SIDD craftsman over a period of six weeks and bears the artisan’s signature on the underside.
Tune Up Your Room
Any successful living room suggests a sense of peace and harmony to the user, and the latter quality is best expressed by the Fender Stratocaster coffee table from Fender Custom Furniture of Portland, Oregon. Solid maple construction is custom stained to evoke the warm, vintage look of Fender’s famous Stratocasters; enhanced by chrome plated tuning pegs and silk screened graphics. FCF has enjoyed great response with the Strat table and will be following it up with a coffee table based on the rockin’ Telecaster.
I Sea What You Did There…
What’s up, dock? The Nautical Rowing Dory Coffee Table from Everything Nautical, of course. The 48-inch long table features detachable oars – for those REALLY rainy days, one assumes – and a fitted glass top that nestles just within the gunwales. A genuinely thoughtful design, the Nautical Dory includes a pair of removable shelves that allow you to set the table on end and use it as a bookshelf or, even better, a maritime curio case for your seashells & scrimshaw.
The Age of Aquariums
Sticking with our nautical theme, it’s not really a surprise there are aquarium coffee tables… what IS odd is that there are so many. Perhaps it’s the way watching fish swim can be so relaxing; maybe having water in front of you can make one thirsty. No problems there, unless of course watching fish in front of you makes you hungry… and drive your cat crazy.
Take Me to Your Melitta
(images via: Seanmichaelragan.com)
Geek furniture doesn’t get much more geeky than the ZAP coffee table, a one-off, home made Space Invaders tribute from Sean Ragan of Austin, Texas. Layered with handmade Mexican Talavera tiles in cobalt blue and lemon yellow, the 38 by 51 inch table cost Ragan about $415 in materials – which he kindly posts spreadsheet-style for anyone who’s contemplating a similar project. Ragan is offering the table for sale so if your games room (what geeks call a living room) needs that finishing touch, you know who to call.
Save Space, Sit on a Table
(images via: Design Milk)
From Space Invaders to space savers: the hand-crafted Futaba coffee table unfolds into a stylish loveseat when unexpected guests arrive… from the Delta Quadrant. If it was just a little larger (or you were a little shorter), the Futaba could double as a sofa bed. Sleeping on your coffee table? It’s more likely than you think.
The Periodic Coffee Table of the Elements
There’s nothing worse than a geek with a sense of humor, unless it’s a geek with no sense of humor. In any case, the Periodic Table of the Elements would even make ol’ Mendeleev himself crack a smile, until he read the price tag ($8,550). Pricey or not, it’s a table… of the elements… get it? Not exactly a thigh-slapper but if you’re going to make a joke, at least carry it through to the end and that’s exactly what Element Displays has done. All of the elements are sealed into clear acrylic blocks and set into a 4-ft. wide burred oak table. Built-in lighting illuminates the blocks and the more reactive elements are sealed in inert Argon gas or mineral oil. There appear to be quite a few blocks labeled with the “radioactive” symbol, so unless you want your coffee re-heated for you we suggest using a lead coaster.
ROSIE says, Touch-a Touch-a Touch-a Touch Me!
The world’s first interactive coffee table costs a cool $35,000 but like all new technology, the price should fall as the ROSIE Coffee Table Touchpanel Controller begins to fly off the shelves and into America’s homes. Featuring an Apple OS-X based operating system and an Intel processor, the ROSIE coffee table is really too good to rest coffee mugs on… and besides, spill-proofing the screen has been one of the biggest issues the Savant design team had to deal with. Isn’t this what Microsoft’s highly touted Surface table was supposed to do?
Godzilla’s iPhone, or Your Coffee Table?
Not everyone has 35 grand to blow on a coffee table these days, but that doesn’t mean one must do without. Take the iPhone coffee table, crafted by iLounge readers Tuan Nguyen, Ken Thomas and associates from corrugate cardboard glued together with white glue. It’s not interactive but it does include a set of iPhone icon coasters coffee-sipping guests can use to rest their mugs on. The table doesn’t have an iPhone dock, unfortunately, but as it’s just a design concept made of cardboard perhaps that might be asking a bit much.
Coffee, Tea or Napalm?
(images via: Motoart)
Please return your Motoart coffee tables to the upright position… which would be a different position from the ones these genuine recycled aircraft parts assumed in their previous lives aboard F-4 Phantom fighters, Boeing 707 jetliners and B-52 Stratofortress bombers. Seriously, a coffee table made from chromed Phantom afterburner cans? That lights up at night with red LEDs? You know you want one.
The Coffee Table Book Lamp Table
(images via: Robot Nine)
Takeshi Ishiguro’s Book of Lights is the ultimate coffee table book – it’s a table top and reading light all in one. Granted, the three .06 watt LEDs don’t hold a candle to, well, a candle but this is one design project that favors form instead of function. Anyway, anyone who can combine a working lamp with a pop-up book deserves kudos in my, er, book.
Kramer’s Coffee Table Book
No collection of coffee tables should be without Cosmo Kramer’s “coffee table book that turns into a coffee table”, as demonstrated by the hipster dufus himself on a very special Live with Regis and Kathie Lee. SONY liked the concept so much they employed the theme to package their 32-DVD Complete Series of Seinfeld set. This may be the only one of Kramer’s crazy concepts to ever reach fruition – on TV or in real life.
The Coffin Table
(images via: WebEcoist)
All good things must come to an end, and that includes you – whether you’ve been good or not. Prepare for the day you shuffle off this mortal coil with the Biodegradable Coffin coffee table from Halfway House Design. Designed by Charles Constantine of the Pratt Institute – we’re assuming that’s a school – the eco-friendly, biodegradable pine wood Memento coffee table will stylishly store books, games, wine… and one day, you.