Saturday, May 15, 2010

Parsons Tables

Billy Baldwin in his New York living room. Image from Architectural Digest

We're in a Billy Baldwin kind of mood these days. Just ordered slipper chairs for a client, and now we're looking for a parsons coffee table like this grass cloth covered lacquered one from Bungalow5:

The sleek elegance of a parsons table is always in style. We especially like them mixed with English and French antiques for an eclectic look.

Baldwin's blue and white room, image from rosso-ubarri blog

Some history from the NY Times:
"The French decorator Jean-Michel Frank, the undisputed master of luxurious minimalism, was lecturing at the Paris branch of the Parsons School of Design in the 1930's. According to an oral history in the Parsons archives, Frank challenged students to design a table so basic that it would retain its integrity whether sheathed in gold leaf, mica, parchment, split straw or painted burlap, or even left robustly unvarnished.

What grew out of Frank's sketches and the students' participation was initially called the T-square table, rigorously plain but with stylistic distinction: whatever its length or width, its square legs were always the same thickness as its top.

Stanley Barrows, a Parsons student who became one of the school's most celebrated professors, recalled that the student creation was brought to 3-D life in New York by a handyman janitor at Parsons. Exhibited at a student show, the table, whose designer remains unknown, quickly became a favorite of tastemakers on both sides of the Atlantic.

In America the first Parsons tables were mass-produced in 1963 by two leading furniture companies, Mount Airy and Directional. And since then the design has been knocked off at every conceivable price in every possible material, including plastic."

image from Architectural Digest

Veere Grenney room, image from World of Interiors, via studio annetta blog

I just love this Schuyler Samperton room - I've posted it before, note the black coffee table:

From 1st Dibs, a 1950's ebonized parsons table -

We can't wait to show you photos of this room we're working on - it's really going to be dynamite. Late this summer...


  1. O, parsons tables!!! Now you're talking my decorating language...goes with my pared-down abbeystyle look :) Love parsons chairs, too! And, OK, I do mix in a few old things to "take off the edge"...

  2. Those grasscloth, lacquered tables are divine - I just included them in a post earlier this week too. Great minds think alike. B5 has such fun stuff -I love having it at the shop!

  3. We've got a couple. The first one has lived all over the house quietly, elegantly doing its duty. Got #2 last year. Interesting to know the story.