The Rise of the Sideboard

Whether you use them as a serving station or a storage unit, sideboards have become an indispensable piece of furniture for anyone who cares about style, space-saving or just wants somewhere to put things. But the history of sideboards is a relatively recent one. We look at the rise of this magnificent piece of furniture and where it’s heading.

The Birth of the Sideboard

As a furniture piece, sideboards are a recently new addition to the household. They emerged as a utility table for late 18th century dining halls, sometimes with a marble top to allow for the cutting and serving of food by butlers and other servants that rich people had back then.

Their popularity grew rapidly due to the beauty, simplicity, ample storage and convenience of this furniture game-changer. In fact, the craftsmanship of sideboards took on such a refined air towards the beginning of the 19th century that antique sideboards from that era continue to be drooled and pined over by lusty antique hunters today.


Sideboards and Modernism

In the post-war era, when people could stop rationing and start spending, the sideboard once again made a memorable appearance.

Moving on from the heavy, expensive sideboards of yesteryear, mass producers came out with simple, sleek designs using bleached plywood and other mass-produced materials. A shortage of resources post-WWII also played a role in this modernist move. Then the smug Scandinavians came in with functional, sleek and uber cool designs that changed the sideboard forever and humbled designers the world over.


Design by Børge Mogensen (1955), from Karl Andersson & Söner


The Rise of the Retro Sideboard

After a late-century decline, the rise of the retro movement in the early 21st century saw the old take on a new lease of life. Scandinavian design was once again appreciated for its cool minimalism, clean lines and swish functionality. Modern updates on the classic design took hold, with the introduction of bold colours and modern materials.

Today the Scandinavian sideboard is more alive than ever, threatening to outshine even the dustiest of antique cabinets.


Find out how you can build your own sideboard with Retrojan here.

Feature image from Quittenbaum (sideboard designed by Finn Juhl, 1954)

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