Designed and developed in 1957, for release in conjunction with the Alu Group series a year later, the Contract Base table range provided a great versatility with its neutral appearance and array of finishes. The range was ideal for use as either a home dining table option or a workplace conference, multi utility table. The range would be usurped by the later Segmented and Universal Based tables but they were largely maintained on the catalog of Herman Miller over the years.
The range was a natural successor to the Model 650 Dining Table. It retained the top styles and pedestal style of the 650 but replaced the older 'spider' base with a new cross pattern which became known as the 'Contract Base' The base was rolled out with the Alu Group chairs as well as fiberglass models such as the PSC and PACC. The base could be fitted with either glides or castors, something which was a possibility with smaller side Contract Base Tables if not the dining variants.
The first releases in the range had model 660 and 662, a laminate plastic top table of two size options, as well as 690 and 692 which were outdoor versions made with glass or marble tops. The Alu Group was first marketed as both an indoor/outdoor range until it developed to a largely workplace product into the 1960's and the Contract tables followed the same chronology.
Into the 1960's and the range would be increased with natural veneer tops as well as further sizes and heights in both the dining and side/coffee table variants. The options would largely remain until the 1990's when they would be reduced but would see a resurgence in the 2000's. Some options of the range remain available today.
Keeping track of the number of different tops that, over the years, were available with the Contract Base Tables is no easy task. From plastic to veneer, glass to marble, aniline dye to beautiful Rosewood, the sheer number of variations over the years was considerable. What makes a Contract Table a Contract Table is of course the base. Whilst the quality and rarity of the top will ultimately decide a piece's value, looking out for that distinctive base will help you recognize a Contract Table. Whatever the material, the edges were always sealed using the vinyl edging, perfect for resisting bumps and dings along the sides.
Regardless of the top, the base has gone through very little change. The pedestal steel tube was available in both black and white though the majority in the secondary market tend to be black. The one piece cast aluminum base was always produced in a polished finish though they did naturally tarnish in time.
|Outdoor||Opaque White Glass, Honed Slate, Botticino Marble, White Onyx|
|Laminated||White Laminated Plastic, Walnut Grain Plastic, Rosewood Grain Plastic, Teak Grain Plastic, Neutral Light, Grey, Soft White, Frosted Laminate, Tan laminate|
|Veneer||American Walnut, Rosewood, Beech, Ash, Maple, Cherry, Light Ash, Mahogany, White Oak|
At its peak, their were two heights of table (with a third as a side table) and 5 circular top sizes and four square top sizes
The distinctive base of the Contract Table is made of one piece cast Aluminum, with legs in a lateral cross raised in the center and circular feet