上圖：Tea Trolley 900 @Artek, Aino and Alvar Aalto, 1937
邊桌、茶几、咖啡桌的起源可追溯至日本室町時代、明朝清朝時代，物料及形態發展則由後維多利亞時期至一次二次世界大戰時期大大改變，至今仍在進化。本著“A single surface to place things”的基本機能，茶几的初始規限是沙發三分之二高，或是低於沙發坐墊1 - 2寸的附屬品， 現已發展成多功能的空間主角。挑選時，可多想想將傢俬周圍搬動時，每個空間的實際變化，如：空間的濕度差異、物料的保養程序；若要作小凳子用，也請謹記參考物料的承重指標。
Serving a singular purpose - a surface to place things, the coffee/ side table was once a complement of other furniture at the 2 / 3 height of a sofa, or 1 - 2 inches under the seating pad. Being a centrepiece of anywhere, the beginning of coffee/side tables can date back to the Muromachi Period and Ming Dynasty, whilst drastic change in form and material can be found from the late Victorian era to the first and second World War.
Hang on a minute and imagine the exact difference among rooms e.g. non-identical humidity of study room and bathroom, the care and maintenance of certain materials; if you are taking the low table as stool or ladder, don’t forget to take the maximum load into account.
上圖：Side Table 915 @Artek, Aino and Alvar Aalto, 1932
During the 13th century, the Muromachi Period - heated low table Kotatsu was developed as an essential to keep the lower body warm in living areas, whilst the Ming Dynasty - there were consoles designed specially for burning incense.
During the 15 - 16th century, while tea tasting in Japan was evolving into a mindful and ceremonial way, there were low tables designed for the preparation of mochi and soba noodles, as well as tea trolleys and tables for the storage of teaware. At the same time, tea tables were becoming common as a complement of two lounge armchairs in the lobby and living area at the beginning of Qing Dynasty.
During the 17th century, in the light of tea culture, tea tables were designed specially for tea tasting in Europe. The folding “tea” tables were slightly higher than dining tables and usually made in solid wood. Given the sturdiness and weight of solid wood, "tea" tables were folded and stored right next to the dining area in common with the difficulty to bring around the separated spaces.
上圖：Side Table 915 @Artek, Aino and Alvar Aalto, 1932
During the late 18 - 19th century, the late Victorian era - British made wooden tea tables were widespread from the upper class to the middle class with the popularity of tea culture. The Meiji Era - architecture and furnishing designs derived and incorporated elements from both the western and Japanese, which brought structural changes from daily habitat to infrastructure and city planning. In addition, tea tables and low tables were prevalent at public level with knees at eye level in the name of politeness and respect in Japanese society. During the decline of the Qing Dynasty, international modernism shaped the tea table as the leading actress of the lobby and living area, rather than just a surface to place things at the very beginning.
上圖：Umanoff Side Table @Menu, Arthur Umanoff, 1950s
20世紀初，咖啡超越茶成為美國人最喜愛的飲料，工作期間的休憩時間也名為”coffee break”。第一次世界大戰後，1920年代Imperial Furniture Co.自稱是史上第一家家具廠為了擺放咖啡用具而切割檯腳的桌子，從而正名為「咖啡桌」。1930年代，雞尾酒桌是經濟蕭條時的財富象徵，其中以桃花心木及櫻桃木為標誌物料，並多以金色細部點綴茶几，是當年消閒時髦的表象。
During the early 20th century, the coffee/ side table was born in the 1920s as a shorter version of a 17th century foldable tea table. Meanwhile, Imperial Furniture Co, who claimed themselves the first to cut off portions of table legs and officially named it as coffee table in the industry. Later the 1930s, the side table was then evolved into a tea trolley in Victorian England for easy move, or people tended to call it a “cocktail table” as the name of wealth when the economy was under depression in the US. Signature materials like Mahogany and cherry wood usually come with decorative brass which people called them the vogue of living.
上圖：Noguchi Coffee Table @Vitra, Isamu Noguchi, 1944
After the Second World War, Japan proactively engaged in world trading organisations, in which this populated the leisure culture from the western to the eastern regardless of social class. Given the availability of materials was getting richer during the upturn than the previous suffering years, coffee tables started to change in form and shape based on demand in the mass market. Plastic, metal and glass were widely used as a combination to fabricate coffee tables among the architectural and interior design sectors during the mid-modern century era. Thanks to ample supply and nature of materials, designers were able to transform their brainstorm into solid pieces with endless experiments, especially organic and bended shapes were finally able to be put into production.
上圖：Adnet Coffee Table @GUBI, Jacques Adnet, 1950s
Recently, mid-modern century and organic shape are in hot white in the fashion and furniture design sectors. Sparkling glass, metal and plastic have been widely developed under mass production since the industrialisation. Whilst, it is worth noting that the popularity of materials and consumptions are slowly shifting to quality rather than quantity. Emphasising sustainable and recycled plastic, source of wood and the profession of woodworking, beauty of graceful ageing brass, texture of clay and their hygroscopic functional features, direction and attributes speak to the era of handcrafts that seem to be more human and planet oriented for the time being, in which foreseeably required further effort of generations.
上圖：Rotben @Ferm Living, Øfstedal Eng, 2020
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