Mid-Century coffee tables , Scandinavian high , British low !
Here’s a strange difference that you’ll notice if you look , British coffee tables always seem to be around seat height , but Scandinavian ones are noticeably higher . It certainly was true in the 1960s and 1970s , is it still so today in our globalised world I wonder . Even stranger is that Swedish coffee tables are usually 4 or 5cms higher than Danish ones !
Having thought about this a little most of the French , Belgian and Dutch coffee tables are sofa height or slightly lower also . Obviously there are exceptions and particularly where Scandinavian pieces were made for export . Danish companies like France and Son and some others were definitely aiming to sell their furniture to export markets so were more likely to take taste differences into account .
If you look at 1960s Danish interiors magazines or go into Scandinavian homes coffee tables are virtually always noticeably higher than seat height . Typical British coffee tables are around 38cms to 40cms , whereas Danish ones are more likely to be around 45cms to 48cms . Swedish ones can be over 50cms ! Thinking about the Belgian tiled tables that we used to source in Europe they too were around 38 to 40cms .
When I first started buying Mid-Century furniture in Denmark and Sweden I bought some wonderful coffee tables without thinking about this cultural divide . They were well priced and seemed like a great buy . Unfortunately I soon realised that although I had no difficulty selling Scandinavian desks and chests of drawers the coffee tables took ages to sell , and it was all down to British people not liking the height .
Is it a matter of taste , is it a cultural difference , or is it just what we’ve become used to ?
When I was a child eggs in Britain were a natural mix of white and brown shells , but people seemed to prefer brown even though they tasted the same . British egg producers soon realised that they could get more money for all brown eggs , and white shells were bred out so that today it’s very hard to find them in the UK . If you go to other countries it can be the opposite , and as I travelled a lot for a few years in Denmark I soon spotted the difference . Not having been to the USA or other countries outside northern Europe I don’t know if this difference is true elsewhere or not . It’s a bit like Gullivers Travels and the 2 countries who were implacable enemies because they cut their eggs off at different ends . Maybe there is something in our inner system that dictates such things .
I’m quite happy to have eggs of any colour , and for some reason I’ve never had a coffee table , maybe it’s because I can’t decide whether it should be below seat height or not !!