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Coffee Tables, Both Simple and Diverse
The classic sitcom Seinfeld may rival Shakespeare for the number of neologisms it has given us—“low talker,” “regifting,” and “anti-dentite” among them—and it has also brought us the holiday Festivus and the career of The Original Soupman. But there is still one area of the Seinfeld universe that has yet to come into being: I am still waiting for my coffee table book about coffee tables.
Okay, granted, Alexander Payne published The Coffee Table Coffee Table Book, a collection of a few avant-garde coffee table designs, but it didn’t seem to measure up to the all-encompassing exploration that many of us envisioned Cosmo Kramer producing. It also did not unfold into its own coffee table shape.
The original coffee tables were actually tea tables, developed in the late 18th century in Europe and Britain. These tables were quite a bit higher than the coffee tables we are used to today, and they initially were placed behind the sofa. Human nature being what it is, eventually other items found their way to this new open surface; lamps, books and other amusements.
These early examples evolved into the lower models that made their way to the front of the sofa, although the history of this transition ... more

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