The Parsons Table has worked its way into all levels of furniture production; it’s so iconic, classic and versatile. It was designed in the 1930′s by the French designer Jean-Michel Frank who was teaching at the Paris branch of the Parson School of Design.
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. (New York Times).
The first mass produced Parsons tables in the US were made in 1963 by two furniture companies. As a teenager some ten years later, I selected a white laminate Parsons table for the desk in my bedroom (the style appealed to me even back then!).
I’ve used the Parsons table in many of my projects as desks, consoles, dining tables and cocktail tables – from custom fabricated tables made from metal and glass to more mass produced, lesser priced versions available from national retailers. Here’s a few of my favorites:
Side tables with nail heads from Kravet:
Brueton designed a metal interpretation:
Console by Harris Rubin with a bronze base and granite top:
And one of my favorite moderately priced desks, available from West Elm – shown here mirrored (also available in white lacquer, dark brown, or metal):
Do you have a favorite Parsons Table? Please let me know!