Ettore Sottsass Harlow
Vintage 1970s Italian Coffee and Cocktail Tables
Poltronova for sale on 1stDibs
Poltronova is known for embracing the creativity that opposites can introduce to a space. Its radical modernist furniture and lighting fixtures are simultaneously grounded in classic aesthetics and inspired by what were then new and provocative artistic movements in mid-century Italy, when the company was founded. This tension resulted in unique and extraordinary pieces at the manufacturer, from eccentric, glove-shaped armchairs to striking dining tables that feature a mix of materials and textures.
Italian designer Sergio Cammilli founded Poltronova in Tuscany in 1957. That same year, it won the Compasso d’Oro for the Panchetto chair designed by Luciano Nustrini. Revolutionary Italian architect Ettore Sottsass — a maestro of postmodern design who would later establish the Memphis Group — came on board as an art director in 1958. Poltronova manufactured many of his furniture and ceramic designs. Sottsass’s lighting, seating and other works for Poltronova showcase the designer’s bold experimentation with solid wood, glass, metal and laminate materials.
Other established names in Italian furniture design collaborated with Poltronova’s Sottsass and Cammilli, including Giovanni Michelucci, Gae Aulenti and Angelo Mangiarotti. However, the company truly set itself apart in its collaborations with Superstudio and Archizoom Associati, groups that were part of an irreverent, avant-garde movement in art and design that took shape during the 1960s in Florence, Turin and Milan. Collectives associated with the movement — which would one day be called Italian Radical design — drew on Pop art and minimalism and explored working with unconventional materials to create colorful, quirky and uniquely shaped objects and furnishings. At the time, Poltronova also worked with up-and-coming names in the art world, like painter Max Ernst and sculptor Mario Ceroli.
Poltronova showcased its groundbreaking designs in many exhibitions, such as “La Casa Abitata,” which was held in Florence in 1965. At Milan's Eurodomus trade show in 1970, Poltronova debuted an entire bedroom collection designed by Sottsass — including his sensuous Ultrafragola mirror. The brand’s furnishings were included in a 1972 exhibition at New York’s Museum of Modern Art called "Italy: The New Domestic Landscape," and in 1977, Poltronova again won the Compasso d’Oro for a book called Fare Mobili con Poltronova (Making Furniture with Poltronova).
Poltronova's enduring and acclaimed furniture designs came to be loved far outside Italy. During the 1960s, importer Charles Stendig represented the company and helped introduce it to the American market.
In 2005, Poltronova established the Centro Studi Poltronova to recreate some of the company's iconic furniture. The brand has also recently collaborated with English architect Nigel Coates, who worked with a Poltronova master craftsman in Italy to design a series of limited-edition furniture in 2011, including the Domo chair.
Finding the Right coffee-tables-cocktail-tables for You
As a practical focal point in your living area, antique and vintage coffee tables and cocktail tables are an invaluable addition to any interior.
Low tables that were initially used as tea tables or coffee tables have been around since at least the mid- to late-1800s. Early coffee tables surfaced in Victorian-era England, likely influenced by the use of tea tables in Japanese tea gardens. In the United States, furniture makers worked to introduce low, long tables into their offerings as the popularity of coffee and “coffee breaks” took hold during the late 19th century and early 20th century.
It didn’t take long for coffee tables and cocktail tables to become a design staple and for consumers to recognize their role in entertaining no matter what beverages were being served. Originally, these tables were as simple as they are practical — as high as your sofa and made primarily of wood. In recent years, however, metal, glass and plastics have become popular in coffee tables and cocktail tables, and design hasn’t been restricted to the conventional low profile, either.
Visionary craftspeople such as Paul Evans introduced bold, geometric designs that challenge the traditional idea of what a coffee table can be. The elongated rectangles and wide boxy forms of Evans’s desirable Cityscape coffee table, for example, will meet your needs but undoubtedly prove imposing in your living space.
If you’re shopping for an older coffee table to bring into your home — be it an antique Georgian-style coffee table made of mahogany or walnut with decorative inlays or a classic square mid-century modern piece comprised of rosewood designed by the likes of Ettore Sottsass — there are a few things you should keep in mind.
Both the table itself and what you put on it should align with the overall design of the room, not just by what you think looks fashionable in isolation. According to interior designer Tamara Eaton, the material of your vintage coffee table is something you need to consider. “With a glass coffee table, you also have to think about the surface underneath, like the rug or floor,” she says. “With wood and stone tables, you think about what’s on top.”
Find the perfect centerpiece for any room, no matter what your personal furniture style on 1stDibs. Browse a vast selection of antique, new and vintage coffee table and cocktail tables today.