When was the last time you gave any thought to your end tables? If the answer is never, you’re not alone. Other than being a handy surface for coffee mugs and clutter—which they sometimes disappear under—they’re not exactly attention-grabbers. But why shouldn’t they be? That’s the question the Florentine-born sisters Micol and Sael Bartolucci asked themselves. (Improving on furniture is something of a family habit—when they were kids, their father transformed the family’s sixteenth century olive press into a kitchen table by affixing a glass top to it.) In 2009, the sisters founded Isotrope Design and set out to build a better-looking end table. What they came up with is pretty spectacular: Taking landscape and topography as their inspiration, the pair devised four styles that will not only hold stuff, but hold their own in any décor. “We love creating furniture that comments on the environment we live in and that helps people reconnect with nature while providing pieces for a smart and practical home,” they emailed from their Los Angeles studio.
We have selected our two favorite styles from their collection. The Sael, which was the sisters’ first oeuvre, is a cube of birch wood with modular panels that can slide in and out—you just lift the table’s top to access them—to create an endless variety of patterns. Viewed from the side, it looks like a sculpture of shifting tectonic plates. Their follow up, the Geo, is an acrylic box that houses a three-dimensional pine rendering of a topographical map that looks like it’s floating in space. With end tables this handsome, you may find yourself tidying up just so people can see them.