The Coffee Table (Just About) Every Designer Has in Their Home
It’s an iconic piece.
Updated Aug 12, 2019 11:30 AM
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If you gave every designer you knew the chance to decorate the same house, it would turn out differently every time. One of the many beauties of interior design is the infinite possibilities that arise when you give a creative person good bones. And while there’s much to be said for difference, there’s also beauty in the common threads that ultimately connect us. You know, those pieces, moments, and memories that make every home you walk into feel just a little bit familiar? One such common thread is Gae Aulenti’s Jumbo Table.
Among the few coffee tables that have reached icon status, Aulenti’s Jumbo Table from 1965 is perhaps the most versatile. Despite its clunky name—a title which derives from its heavy marble surface and cluster legs—the sturdy living room staple has come to embody modern Italian grace.
First and foremost an architect, Aulenti’s long-standing relationship with buildings is evident in her approach to furniture and lighting design. Seemingly blending the principles of classical Roman architecture and her own personal interest in industrial design, Aulenti’s pieces often focus on structure and the essential shapes of materials in their purest form.
While the Jumbo Table might not be as widely recognized as, say, the Noguchi table, or even Aulenti’s Tavolo con Ruote table (a glass top with wheels), this stone-cold piece is currently enjoying a second wind, gracing the ever-stylish homes of interior designers and fashion-forward decorators alike.
Here are a few of our favorite ways we’re seeing designers put a fresh spin on the iconic piece.
For their ultra-cozy library at their L.A. home, power design duo Nate Berkus and Jeremiah Brent opted for Aulenti’s Jumbo Table in the most stunning shade of red. The piece’s rusty color lends a contemporary hand to the more classic elements in the room, like the velvet tufted sofa, the herringbone-tiled fireplace, and the wood paneling. When topped with stacks of coffee table books, the table’s molded legs become the showstopper.
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This dramatic Bianco Marquina marble iteration belongs to none other than L.A.’s It interior designer, Sally Breer of ETC.etera. Paired with a fluffy, fringe area rug, Breer plays off the table’s rock-hard composition by juxtaposing the piece with warm tones and soft textiles. The key to pulling off a coffee table as heavy and large as this is to leave enough room around the table so it can be observed and appreciated from every angle.
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Classique moderne chez Nicholas Ghesquière showcasing Alpha sofas by Pierre Paulin, Gae Aulenti’s marble Jumbo table, and a pair of Taccia lamps by Achile Castiglioni. Photo by @nicolasghesquiere / @_theworldofinteriors_ #parisinteriors #classiquemoderne #classicmodern #frenchinteriors #designershomes #modernglamour #pierrepaulin #alphasofas #gaeaulenti #jumbotable #achilecastiglioni #taccialamp
Nicolas Ghesquière’s ethereal Paris apartment is a blush and cream dream. Going full-on vintage mode, the creative director for Louis Vuitton offset his coffee table with two Canape Alpha sofas by Pierre Paulin—equally chunky companions that complement the scale of Aulenti’s Jumbo Table. A set of Taccia Lamps by Achille Castiglioni in the background tie the iconic mix of acclaimed French and Italian designs together.
Here’s where you can pick up a vintage Aulenti table (or inspired look-alike) for yourself.
While vintage Aulenti Jumbo Tables can range up to $25,000, this sandy-hued travertine version tends toward the more attainable side.
The mix-and-match approach of this vintage table calls abrupt attention to its staggered, jet-black legs.
The similar bulky stature of this round look-alike gets the job done with only three legs.
Inspired by self-assembled, flat-pack furniture, Joe Doucet’s inventive Annex table is actually three slabs of marble snapped together to make one solid statement piece.
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