The Victorians, wealthy or not, loved to entertain: parlour games, music rooms and tea trolleys–entire pieces of furniture dedicated to serving guests. Fast forward to the Great Depression and, with the exception of the very wealthy, no one was exactly playing Tiddlywinks in the drawing room. Fast forward once more to the mid 20th century when, due largely to post-war optimism, we harkened back to the Victorian era and started opening our homes again. Martinis and Manhattans were the new Earl Grey and bustles were squashed by bouffants. And that tea trolley? Well, hello bar cart!
Bar carts have been all the rage with interior designers for many years now–they are versatile, visually interesting, and typically a conversation piece. With the outrageous success of “Mad Men” and the show’s incredible mid-century accoutrements, the rest of the country got on board, too. Look around! Nearly every furniture company in every price range, from Jonathan Adler to Ikea, is making some sort of bar cart, and vintage resellers (myself included) are selling them hand over fist. They are being styled as bedside tables, plant stands, unorthodox office pieces, and yes, as homes for gorgeous glassware and decanted libations. Maybe it’s time you added one of these beauties to the mix.
9 Bar Carts For Your Eco-Friendly Home
1. Artek’s Tea Trolley 900 is a Scandinavian modern classic. Designed by Alvar Aalto in 1937, this light, airy piece could have been designed yesterday. Once a classic, always a classic!
2. The Oko Trolley by Viesso looks both sleek and rustic and is made of 100 percent reclaimed teak, making it suitable for use outdoors.
3. Not everyone can shell out $1000 or more for a bar cart, so the Parker by West Elm gives you tons of mid-century modern inspired bang for your buck! ($349 bucks to be exact.) Added bonus: it’s made from FSC-certified wood.
4. The French do it best! This unassuming vintage 1940s brass Maison Baguès piece is elegant, graceful, and quietly detailed: faux bamboo, acorn finials, a scroll handle, ebonized wood and antiqued mirror.
5. Designed by Frédéric Sofia for Fermob, the Luxembourg Bar With Wheels is destined to be tomorrow’s classic of good design. Fermob guarantees that all of their products are both recycled and recyclable, use solvent-free paint in a zero-release facility, and are constantly creating ways to reduce their energy consumption.
6. This repurposed vintage cart could find an exciting new life playing a supporting role to Cointreau and Campari. It’s Tim Burton meets gym locker meets mad cocktail scientist! ( And at under $400, it’s easily attainable!)
7. If the title “Master of the Bar Cart” existed, it would likely be bestowed upon Cesare Lacca. This piece, designed in the 1950s, is so organic, so biomorphic, that it looks like it could crawl away of its own volition in the manner of some fantastical insect. In other words–WOW.
8. The Circa Bar Cart by Forma Living is a winner all around; beautiful, functional and environmentally sound–it’s made of recycled aluminum. Forma Living is dedicated to merging science, technology and aesthetic sensibilities to create home wares that are gentle on the planet and easy on the eyes. What’s not to love?
9. Good design is always sustainable. An outstanding marriage of form and function peppered with undeniable beauty and the highest quality materials tends to stay out of landfills. This sculptural mid-century piece, designed by Brazil-based architect Jorge Zalspusin, was made of locally sourced woods (the modern productions are all FSC-certified) and incredible craftsmanship.
At $15K+ for a vintage model, this cart won’t be coming home with me in this lifetime, but I still remember where I was the first time I laid eyes on one in person. I’ll never forget it–it was a near-religious experience. And that is the true beauty of good design.
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Photo credits (top to bottom): Design Shuffle, Artek, Viesso, West Elm, One Kings Lane, Fermob, Chairish, 1stdibs, Forma Living, Espasso