This season at Inform Interiors we have been taking time to consider community. What is community? Where does one find it? How are the spaces and objects around us designed to facilitate or encourage community?
We have taken inspiration from the Dutch concept of Natafelen — literally meaning, after table-ing — the act of lingering at the table after a finished meal to continue talking, drinking and enjoying the atmosphere and company.
From micro (in our own homes), to macro (urban planning), we have chosen the table to convey and symbolize this theme of community; as it is perhaps the most convivial piece of furniture in our lives, at home, work, and elsewhere. To borrow from Dutch furniture company Arco’s ethos ‘Tables play a central role in our lives: how we talk, meet, work, eat and celebrate at the table.”
In our homes, dining tables are where we gather to share our meals and celebrate significant events; where we bring together those we care about to connect and strengthen ties. It is a place to share laughter and tears, our plans for the future and our memories of the past. These very same tables also act as spaces to work, study, play, and create. The video below by Arco showcases the way a table can intersect several sectors of our lives — often at the same time.
Connecting with others over a table isn’t limited to the home. Take the work place, for example, where ideas are born, relationships are built, and decisions are made around a table. The trend of offering a variety of surface options to facilitate different methods of communication is gaining momentum. We are seeing large tables used for group brainstorming or formal meetings, smaller ones for intimate one-on-ones, while tall breakout tables serve for quick informal meetings. The Vancouver offices of Miller Thompson designed by BVN are a terrific example of this.
In restaurants and cafes, we are seeing the use of the popular communal table. What better way to encourage community than to seat strangers next to one another to enjoy a meal and a drink. The Union restaurant, designed by Evoke, in Vancouver’s Chinatown makes great use of this sociable option.
Whether in the home, at the workplace, or out on the town, tables are at the centre of the growth and development of our communities — be that with family, co-workers, or friends. As we continue to reflect on the theme of Community we will be sure to the time to bask in the after-table-ing and recommend the same for you.