As an architect living in Paris, I wish to explore the importance of design by taking just one object that is the simplest of physical objects yet the most complex of social objects, the table. My fondest memories have been around tables, so I want to celebrate their cultural importance and design.
Tables as well as being a missing link between buildings and objects, are symbols that organises our social and political lives . From dinner table to round-table, tables are a location of rich social significance. Even in cultures that have no table object there is a grouping in the round, about a space which is kept free from outside contaminants. The first table, a board, was created when this important space was elevated from the possible pollution to a higher ground. It is no coincidence that in many religions the table holds an important ceremonial role.
Tables can divide the world into people that we would share a table with and those we would not, those who sit on our side for the table and those who we face. It is the elevated ground where we negotiate, celebrate, and rhythm our days and seasons.
Current design interest has often left aside the table in favour of the chair which enjoys many books blogs in it’s honour. On chairs we park our derrieres, they are designed to accommodate an individuals body, a place of self indulgence . The table is where we place our hands, our work, our company and our world. International power-broking never happened around an Eames Chair.
A friend said to me once,” What’s so interesting about a table ? You’re only going to throw a tablecloth over it “. Well lets just lift up the tablecloth and see.