Colonial Coffee TableBy Ole Wanscher
With its clean lines and elegant shape, the Colonial coffee table is a quietly striking work from a master of Danish design. While Scandinavian modernism’s household names aren’t likely to include Copenhagen native Ole Wanscher (1903–85), his legacy as a designer, author and educator is integral to the field, and his postwar furniture — such as this classic table — is internationally beloved.
Wanscher studied under pioneering modernist Kaare Klint at the Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts and worked for him before opening his own firm. In 1954, Wanscher took over Klint’s position as head of the school’s furniture department after his former teacher’s passing. Owing to copious travel and his art historian father’s influence, Wanscher studied and grew to admire furniture traditions in Egypt, Greece and elsewhere. He wrote about furniture history and incorporated this research into his own designs. Wanscher also learned a lot from Klint, who introduced him to 18th-century British cabinetry, the classical forms of which influenced his Colonial coffee table.
Wanscher was a perfectionist who constantly refined his work rather than introducing new pieces every year like his prolific peers did. Danish manufacturer P. Jeppesens debuted the Colonial series, which included Wanscher’s famed easy chair, in 1949 and the Colonial coffee table in 1964. The table was reissued in 2015 by Carl Hansen & Søn, where it is available in oak and walnut with a matching veneer top. A simple design that is understated from a distance but complex in its modern geometric appearance, the Colonial coffee table is marked by its maker’s meticulousness. Its square tabletop rests on a slender frame with an unexpected relief detail on the corners, proving that design doesn’t have to be loud to be adventurous.
Ole Wanscher Colonial Coffee Table
21st Century and Contemporary Danish Modern Tables