A side table can be much more than just four legs and a flat top—how dull! Designers have been pushing the envelope with this basic piece of furniture for many years, and these days they come in all shapes, sizes and structures. Some designers play with form, pushing wood and metal into fantastic shapes; while others with function—tables that double as stools, or fold up into chairs; tables with a groove to prop up your tablet, or a charging dock for your smartphone.
Long gone are the days when a side table was expected to do nothing other than hold your coffee cup, or perhaps a well-earned glass of wine. Long gone too are the days when side tables came in two shapes: rectangular or round. Advances in material technology and manufacturing design mean a side table can be anything a designer wants it to be. We've rounded up a few of the most inventive below.
We weren't joking about a table that recharges your gadgets! The Lucio table from Italian designers Studio Natural is covered in light-harvesting polyvoltaic cells that soak up both natural and ambient light from the environment, and store it as energy. That energy is then used to charge up your tablet, smartphone or laptop. The deep groove down the centre lets your gadgets sit securely while they charge. Light and mobile, you can move the table to sunny spots to charge the cells more quickly, then take it back with you to the couch when you want to play with your gadgets. It's environmentally friendly, of course, and as a piece of furniture, Lucio is sleek and lovely. Oh, and it functions as a table too!
Made from an old beech kitchen worktop and perched on ash branches, this table from Knut Roeling is like something from an alternate dimension—and we mean that in a good way. It's a funky and interesting design, and you can be sure that even if one leg develops a wobble (as table legs are wont to do), the whole structure will remain perfectly stable. Who said tables need only four legs?!
This is a table with an amazing back story. The Fish Eye series of tables are made from the timber of the poles that lie submerged in the canals of Venice. Over decades of weathering, these oak logs are sculpted by Teredo Navalis—shipworms that leaves traces of their passing on the wooden surface, producing striking patterns of circular holes. The Teredo Navalis avoid the inner core of the log, allowing it to maintain its health and strength. Alcarol salvage the poles when they have come to the end of their useful life, and the fill the gaps left by Teredo Navalis with resin, creating a stunning piece with an amazing history.
The legs of this side table are made from metal sheet, powder coated with muted, complimentary colours. The glass top gives us a good view of the legs which are its main feature: triangular pieces of metal sheet, bent and riveted together to form a single continuous surface. The resulting origami shape puts us in mind of a lily or a bird.
Every piece in the 'Khaani' line by Radice in Movimento is made from driftwood found on the Maldivian beaches after heavy storms. This gorgeous and functional table is made from wood from the Cecropia tree, rubbed smooth by the waves. Incorporating a lamp and a side table, it will bring a touch of nature into your living room: both the romance of the sea and the mystery of the forest.
We love this clever, funky Mathematisch table by Andecover. Perched on legs that evoke two splayed compasses, and covered in rule measures, it's bright, and it's smart. We only wish our school desks had been more like this!