My shoulders and hands ache as I type this. This table is at war with its user and I wonder if I should be working on it. I am in a restaurant. The other patrons are immersed in their own work, typing away. One lady appears to be comfortably alternating between eating her food, reading a paperback and watching a video on her iPhone.
The height of this table is what annoys me. As an architect, I am used to defining a range of 725–750mm from the floor as a beautiful height to dine and work on. As I squirm in my seat, I begin to wonder if the chair is at fault. It is made out of steel. Could a cushion or a timber seat have offered a better half?
I reckon this table is at 775mm and yes an inch (1 inch = 25.4mm) does matter. Could the seat be slightly under that canonical 450mm height? I can’t tell but it gets even more uncomfortable now that my editor tells me this essay is due tomorrow. I begin to wonder how, despite their ubiquity, we do not care enough about how tables can equally offer pleasure and irk us in no time.
I am thinking of the times we forget that a bed is to sleeping what a table is for living.
I mean to say that our conscious moments are lived on tables and chairs. Our lives are planned and lived on these surfaces. Tables are the best places to slam your fist down or rest those weary arms after a long day. They are the canvasses of our passions.
The sensory experience of each table not only speaks to you about the intent of its owner but conversely the kind of guest they expect. Timber, steel, laminate, plastic and glass; each bears a variety of experiences and concerns. Is it comfortable? Is it easy to maintain? What does it represent? How wide? How long? How high?
Each detail offers a different sensory and ergonomic experience that keenly affects the way you appreciate the space you are in. The scene you are in always has a point from which you survey it. To sit is to absorb the advantage of an angle.
Today, we are obsessed with images but not with how the details of furniture feel.
There are qualities and quantities in each table and chair that we have to choose at some point in our lives. A table is often that overlooked detail that you are touching now.
Obsessing over something that is at arm’s length is not always a myopic exercise. Rather, it is one where you keenly consider the mutual experience you can have on it. After all, tables and chairs are meant to be shared.