Credenza: A Short Design History |
What Is a Credenza ?

What Is a Credenza ?

A short history

Cissy Wang
Written by –
Cissy Wang
on January 18th 2019
Cissy is a fresh graduate from CUHK with a major in English and Comparative Literature. Her writing gears towards the poetics of space in social, cultural and urban spaces. "In libris libertas" has always been her motto.

Pop quiz! Do you know what a credenza is? Don’t worry if not, in modern times, the term is often used interchangeably for similar items such as the sideboard or a buffet. But now we’re here to set the record straight. Ahead, we break down the history and use of the credenza, as well as rounding up some of our favorite picks for the home. Keep reading for more!

Mid-century modern wood credenza with modern art accessory |
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What is a Credenza?

Let’s define!

The working definition has varied along with the changing times. Etymologically speaking, the term “credenza” is connected to the Italian word for “trust” and the English word “credence”. And this is exactly what the aristocrats of the Renaissance called for due to the endemic presence of poisoning in their households. As such, before food and drinks were served to noble families, it was customary for servants to test for poison in advance. This practice of tasting for VIPs done at a sideboard in the dining room was later referred to as “credenza”. The term ultimately came to stand for the place where the tasting took place. Today, poison aside, the credenza has become a dining room staple on which to serve food, display serving dishes, or simply store belongings.


Design History

Back in the day, credenzas were originally designed to have no legs. Modern credenzas, however, typically feature slender legs, and come complete with sliding doors. They may also be surmounted by drawers for storage space. What’s more, credenzas have come to be used in an office setting as well in the form of ‘credenza desks’ – a low, lateral piece which serves as either an active work surface or part of a matching storage set to the main desk.

Our Favorite Credenzas

Thinking of investing in a credenza of your own? Take a look at our top picks.

Honeycomb Credenza |
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A stylized honeycomb pattern finished in gold exudes sophisticated glam. We especially love the balance of inset black glass panels with gold framing.

Mercier Credenza |
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The Mercia Credenza boasts a ‘Tiza Gesso’ front and is fitted with gold accented agate handles. The case is a smooth American black walnut and wood composite frame.

Sierra Metallic Credenza |
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If you prefer something a little more classic, you’ll love this traditional four door option with a silver and black metallic finish.

Mid century modern credenza with pecan-colored wood finish |
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A mid-century style credenza is our favorite kind of credenza. This pecan-hued beauty has solid wood legs, in addition to cut-out handles at the back to allow for neat and easy cord management.

Palladia Credenza |
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Classically versatile, this option, finished in select cherry, would fit into a range of home decor styles.

Cubbyhole storage credenza |
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For something a little more casual, how about this cubbyhole storage credenza in craftsman oak finish? With three adjustable shelves, we love that it’s every bit as functional as it is aesthetically pleasing.

A Fusion of Fashion and Function

Channeling cultural and historical influences over the course of history, credenzas blend fashion and function when it comes to ornamental use and practicality, and have gradually become an integral part of the decor catalog. What truly makes the credenza a great piece of home accent furniture though is its versatility. From the dining room, to the living room and office, a credenza is perfect for adding overall style and storage!

What’s your take on the credenza?


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