Famous american coffee tables - The Warren Platner wire coffee table

This is the third article of the series called Famous American Coffee Tables which features Isamu Noguchi and Eero Saarinen.

The Platner coffee table is part of a furniture collection created by the designer Warren Platner. First produced in the mid 1960, Platner furniture collection is regarded, today, as the icon of modern era design. The tables and chairs made of steel wire and glass or marble represent the peak of a trend that included other well-known designers and architects among which are Noguchi, Saarinen and Eames.

Platner coffee table
Platner coffee table | Source

Some of Warren Platner interiors are controversial to the point that he was accused of “modernism apostasy” but most of his designs are recognized as being the “integration of architectural ideas into the inner space” (Alexandra Lange in dwell.com).

The Platner coffee table - beauty and simplicity

It actually started before Platner but he took the idea a little further. When Saarinen complained that american homes are crowded with the legs of the chairs and tables, he then made one legged furniture. Then Warren Platner, who actually worked for Saarinen’s company for few years, took the tulip shaped chairs tables, wrapped them in steel rods, and topped them with cushions or glass.

Source

Platner steel collection was meant to be perfect as in “no improvements are necessary”.

It is a see through idea, so simple that makes it beautiful.

There’s no corners, no points where one’s eye or mind can hold on, there are only continuous curved shapes, that makes the sight slide from one clean wire rod to another, in a perpetual wonder.

Platner furniture collection: coffee table, side table, chairs

Warren Platner’ s approach to furniture was as it was an extension of the human body. The main focus of his design was practicality, with the decoration as an integral part of it. Here is how he better explained it: “Make the structure(...) so ornamental details are built into it as functional elements, just like a man”.

Platner collection includes tables and chairs. The base of these products are made out of vertical steel wire rods, welded to circular steel wire frames. The bottom of the base is smooth and will not scratch your floor.

The top of the tables are available in 3/8” tempered glass, marble and veneer.
The chairs have a fiberglass shell, covered with foam cushions attached to the structure with velcro.

The furniture was designed in 1960s and is produced by Knoll company ever since. It is divided in two sections: lounge collections ( lounge chairs, arm chairs and stools) and table collection (dining tables, coffee tables and side tables).

The lounge collection won the American Institute of Architects International Award in 1966.
Also, Knoll claims that this products are Greenguard Indoor Air Quality certified (low emission of volatile organic compound, meaning healthier air).

Warren Platner
Warren Platner | Source

Warren Platner career

Born in Baltimore in June 18, 1919, Warren Platner studied architecture at Cornell University which he graduated in 1941.

After his graduation, Platner worked with some of the most prominent architects of their time, starting with I. M. Pei and Raymond Loewy, and Eero Saarinen. In 1955, he won the Rome prize for architecture.

During 1960s, he started a collaboration with Knoll company and, with the aid of a grant and Knoll support, he designed his collection of steel wire tables and chairs that is now an icon of modern furniture and has been in demand ever since.

In 967, Platner open his own design office.

Warren Platner’s most known work is the interior at Windows on the World restaurant at World Trade Center North Tower, finished and opened to the public in 1976 (now destroyed in the 9/11 attacks). 

Windows on the World (WTC)
Windows on the World (WTC) | Source

contemporary coffee table at amazon.com

Other public works includes Georg Jensen Design Center and WaterTower Place in Chicago.
Warren Platner died in 2006, at the age of 2006.


His furniture collection is sold by authorized dealers of Knoll and prices are going for over 8,000 US dollars for a 7 piece dining table.

A Platner coffee table sells for as much as 3,000 US dollars. Some of these pieces are only custom made require placing an order and waiting for the manufacturer to produce it.

Some of the original pieces are sold through ebay at lower rates.

The price is high but, after all, this is not just a piece of furniture, but a piece of art.

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