Chair-less Table

Why do tables have chairs?

The process of making, eating, and sharing a meal has ritualistic qualities, yet today it is often an inconvenience or a chore. Our overloaded dining tables – with laundry, screens, home schooling, home working, crockery, food – are evidence of the loss of the intangible culture of eating, which UNESCO is sworn to protect. The delicate human drama that unfolds around the dinner table has been immortalised in film, predominantly by Steven Spielberg. A scene present in all of his films is the dining table. Messy dining tables signify failed lives; family dinners break out in confrontation, not just conversation; and the act of dining is corrupted to result in comedy or a change of plot – where the everyday person becomes the hero of the story. Our modern dining tables have not been given such consideration – often one size fits all thanks to standards like Neufert’s.

Today, the dining table has two primary functions, for working and eating, yet neither of which are biologically beneficial to do whilst sitting. So why do tables have chairs?

Featured in The Washington Post in 2014, this drawing illustrates the reality of our sedentary lives, uncomfortable chairs, and poor posture.

Sitting on the floor whilst eating has many benefits: it aids digestion, improves posture, increases circulation, helps you feel fuller sooner, and relaxes the mind and body.

Togu Na (Meeting House), Mali, West Africa. Copyright Unknown.

This lower datum is still present in Asia and Africa. Inspiration can be drawn from the Togu Na (meeting house) of the Dogon people of Mali, West Africa. The low roof forces people to sit down and converse on a level, signifying equality between the members of the conversation. The compressed height between floor and ceiling evokes feelings of intimacy and closeness.

Chabudai (Short-Legged Dining Table), Japan. Copyright Unknown.