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The Strangely Stylish Coaster-Scape

Photo-Illustration: The Strategist; Photos: Retailers

Perhaps the most interesting outcome of the pandemic home-décor boom is an online obsession with the drink coaster. No longer a bulk-bin afterthought, the simple object that separates our beverages from our stain-prone tabletops (and that our parents won’t let us forget about when we visit them) is enjoying a surge of popularityDIY coaster projects are getting hundreds of thousands of likes on TikTok. And it makes perfect sense. Not only are we all likely using coasters a lot more frequently, on the coffee tables and desks we shopped for on vintage-furniture Instagram or reclaimed from our neighbors’ stoops, but they offer the perfect way to incorporate collectible design into your space without breaking the bank. “You can have a work by someone like designer Gaetano Pesce that’s affordable but also decorative and functional,” says Stephen Markos, founder of New York–based gallery and online design platform Superhouse.

It helps that these aren’t your mom’s T.J. Maxx cork squares. You can now get coasters in every shape, size, and price point imaginable. There are coasters in the shape of sliced bread from MoMA-approved artists, handbag designer Edie Parker’s gleaming acrylic squares, vibrational slices of rose quartz from CB2, and even a Medusa-shaped plexiglass set from, of all places, Versace.

While all coasters will help keep your tabletop safe, make sure to pick a set that shows off your taste. “The smaller items in our homes are like the jewelry of a space,” says interior designer Becky Carter. “Not in that they are necessarily flashy or expensive, but rather that they add a layer of personality that is only experienced and seen in intimate moments. I think that the shrinking of our social lives during COVID encouraged us to invest in these touch points as a way to further connect with people we love.” From marble puzzle pieces to psychedelic cutouts, here are 15 coasters we’re eyeing for our coffee cups and cocktail hour:

$45 for 4

Edie Parker is the acrylic-accessories poster child — her brightly toned handbags have been seen on Zoe Kravitz and Tommy Dorfman during nights out, and the corresponding coaster sets are the ultimate accessory for your night in. This cloudlike set would bring a rich saturated color to that white tulip table or marble coffee table of yours.

This hand-poured acrylic collection stacks to form an inedible yet tempting cheeseburger. The combination of everyday and elevated materials makes for quite a statement piece next to your art-book collection.

Artisanal objet d’art connoisseurs Spiritual Objects recently released these Italian leather musical coasters. Each piece is made in Los Angeles and would pair wonderfully with its matching Disco Stool or that vintage turntable you’ve been meaning to use. There are even playlists to match.

Cottagecore is still alive and well in the world of home décor, and this acrylic set blends rustic sensibilities with a bit of the Y2K flair.

These marble puzzle pieces are straight out of a minimalist fever dream. Created by the Polish design group Tre Product, this set of four can be arranged in a variety of patterns, which is sure to make them an object of fascination as the night goes on at the party.

These coasters are handmade in Bushwick, Brooklyn. The ropy patterns bring to mind single-celled organisms, puddles, or even something a little sci-fi, and the saturated color scheme brings a youthful energy. You can even get matching place mats.

The coasters have a simple design, but their carefully chosen colors ensure they’ll be stylish long beyond this year. Plus, since they’re made from BPA-free silicone, the coasters are naturally slip-resistant.

Ceramicist Ben Medansky, whose textured tiles grace the walls of multiple Kelly Wearstler–designed hotels, created 3-D terra-cotta coasters, each in a different glaze.

These cork coasters are a feast for the eyes with a MoMA sensibility — their designer, Patricia Naves, was featured in the museum’s “Destination: Brazil” collection. The coasters are easy to clean and appeal to the minimalist with a sense of humor.

$50 for 4

Rose quartz is purported to be the stone of unconditional love, and nothing quite keeps love alive like avoiding annoying rings on your freshly stained dining table. Each coaster is unique, which should help a bit with figuring out whose glass is whose at dinner.

Studio Proba, known for its terrazzo-like patterns and murals like these eclectically painted sculptures at Design/Miami, collaborated with Slash Objects on these colorful rubber offcuts turned coasters.

We love a puzzle coaster, and this fractal-like set of delicately pointed shapes is hardy enough to entertain the kids while the adults enjoy their drinks. According to their site, the leather ages beautifully, so plan on keeping these for a while.

These plexiglass Versace coasters feature the signature Medusa logo in a variety of striking colorways. It’s all the 1980s Miami energy we need to get through the second pandemic winter.

$30 for 2

Italian architect and designer Gaetano Pesce’s handmade coasters are swimming with psychedelic colors and shapes and will immediately signal that you are truly a collector. 

$16 for 4

These silicone scribbly coasters, designed by Tokyo-based group YOY, are meant to “mimic charcoal and pencil scribbles.”

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The Strangely Stylish Coaster-Scape