Since then, many different reproductions of the stem 'tulip style' table have been created, from the basic circular or square tops with chunky pedestal, (so often favoured by restaurants and bistros), to the refined and honed look with an elegant tapered design.
Saarinen famously said in the 1950's that he wanted to “clear up the slum of legs” by designing his classic tulip stem chairs which revolutionised the traditional design of furniture.
Prices can vary a great deal and when buying online and it can be tricky to differentiate the good from the poor, so the following guide may be of assistance if you are currently looking to purchase such a table.
There are many different sizes to suit, with the most popular being, 90cm to fit four and then diameters up at 100cm, 110cm, 120cm,130cm and 140cm round. Larger oval shaped tables are usually circa 170cm and 200cm long.
As a seating guide:, a 90cm table will seat four people. 110cm/120cm five to six, 130/140cm seven to eight people.
In the oval shaped; 170cm long will seat six to seven and the larger 200cm x 120cm will seat up to ten people, depending on the width and style of chairs used.
The table is two component parts: the top and base.
Quality can vary from cheaper Asian marbles to Italian quarried natural stone.
Chinese marble can still be of good quality but tends to be slightly yellower and not as crisp as Italian Carrara marble, which is considered one of the best in the world for its natural look, and is smooth with grey veining running through the white slab.
NB: Marble tops are heavy with larger sized ones up to circa 95kg in weight, so it is advisable to ensure the area is suitable for such an item pre-purchasing and also to measure up the space to allow for the right size which will fit with chairs around.
Most reproductions are manufactured in Asia due to labour and production costs, as is much furniture in general these days, so this is not necessarily an issue, however, do check with the retailer that it is Italian quarried marble being used if choosing the carrara option.
Tip: Check type and origin of marble
Fibreglass: If looking at a fibreglass top, double check it is not MDF wood sprayed white.
Fibreglass will have a thinner, sleeker look with a high gloss lacquer built up in stages, in comparison to a spray painted MDF top which can be thicker and with less of a gloss shine.
Tip: Check it is fibreglass and not MDF
Usually, there are two versions of the base: aluminium or fibreglass. Cast aluminium is the better of the two. Made from a one piece mould, it is stronger and much lighter than the fibreglass option.
These are sprayed in a powder-coated step process to a high gloss finish to match the top and usually available in gloss white or black.
Cheaper bases tend to skimp on the paint process to save on production costs which in turn can lead to bases chipping and having less strength leading to excess flex, which in turn again, can lead to a wobble on the table top.
Tip: Check base material. If possible choose an aluminium option.
There is usually a metal base plate, on the underneath of the top which will have pre-drilled bolt points. The base will align and screw into this plate, usually via several bolts and an allen key provided.
Tip: If you are assembling the table yourself, open the crating and pull back the internal packaging but leave the table top with baseplate facing upwards in its protective crate on the floor. Unbox the base and turn it upside down onto the top. You can then affix the base more easily. Once secured correctly, using two persons (or more for larger tables), lift the table by its edges, out of the crate and turn it upright.
MARBLE TOP CARE
Most marble table tops are supplied factory polished, which means they have been machine polished to a high gloss, however, they also remain 'unsealed' and as marble is a natural and porous stone, any water or wine stains can seep in.
It is always advisable to apply a marble sealant specifically made for 'machine polished stone', before using and as a general rule, this should be re-applied every six months or so, to maintain a good seal. Most hardware stores, online shops or tile merchants sell different brands of sealants.
Fibreglass tops have a high gloss lacquer but strong colours such as ketchup, wine etc should be wiped off as soon as possible to prevent residual staining.
Speak or communicate with the retailer if you can. They will confirm materials and in general, the better the manufacturing process and materials used, the higher the cost to the retailer from the factory, so thus the retail pricing will reflect this, however, you should have a very durable and beautiful table that will last the test of time, with the correct care and maintenance used.