Perhaps surprisingly for a game redolent of fraternity-house basements, foosball has a sophisticated and mysterious provenance. Referred to by the British, straightforwardly, as table football, and by the French, adorably, as le baby-foot (the term “foosball” comes from the German word for soccer), it was, by some accounts, created in the 1930s by a French automobile engineer, Lucien Rosengart. The Spanish anarchist and publisher Alejandro Finisterre also claimed to have invented futbolín while recovering from injuries sustained in the Spanish Civil War, and the Englishman Harold Searles Thornton filed a patent for a similar setup in 1923.
The French fashion and leather goods company Louis Vuitton, however, is less concerned with establishing the republic’s title to le baby-foot than in designing the most aesthetically pleasing version imaginable. Offered in seven different finishes, including leathers such as the brand’s textured Epi in colours like cyan and pistachio, as well as the iconic logoed canvas pictured here, the table’s hand-painted, custom-matched aluminium-cast players are modelled on the hotel porter character from Vuitton’s 1921 advertising campaign. Foosball’s origins may not be certain, but this is: You won’t find this particular amusement in the corner of some subterranean rec room.
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