Dining Table for Collective Meals
2014-2015. The house I live in is a cooperative: 20 of us share a single household and the responsibilities for managing and growing as a residential community. We share four communal dinners per week and hold weekly meetings for consensus-based decision-making.
A challenge we faced was the dining table. The table we shared when I moved in sat 10 people at an absolute maximum—half the residents of the house. Housemates were eating in shifts or in separate rooms and were wary of bringing friends to dinner for fear of crowding. There had been rumblings of desire for a new table, but not necessarily a bigger one, and there wasn't a clear way to achieve collective buy-in on a new purchase.
After some initial crowd-sourcing of concerns through an online discussion platform for the house, I surveyed the space and reviewed the needs and constraints for the table—meetings, meals, projects, parties, daily clean-up. I proposed some concept designs for a new, custom table. More conversation followed, in addition to the formation of a committee to work on the proposal and iterate through feedback.
Since the proposal was for a much larger table than before, I made a paper prototype and placed it on the ground for housemates to maneuver around and weigh in on. The final design we developed—built by a carpenter friend—can be separated into two halves to add additional table space, and easily bolted back together. The inside legs of both halves are inset so as to allow comfortable seating at either of the short ends. At maximum capacity, the table can seat 22 people.
The original six-seat table, which could squeeze a maximum of ten people around it.
Concept design options for the split table.
Joined, the new table seats up to 16 housemates.
Split, it seats up to 22 people—all housemates can now have a seat at the table together.