So here we are designing another working space for a futuristic IT Chinese company with office tables, chairs, armchairs, meeting rooms and waiting areas. When will working space design change at the same speed of the technology involved in these spaces?
The table is the most exciting example of an object that is progressively loosing its function but still defines spaces, movements and distribution of working spaces. The office table still defines our four square meters per employee and it’s still the unit of modern offices. Imagine that this old guy has survived already three revolutions, not even my grandfather has survived three wars!
The table was conceived during a time in which the act of writing was developed with feathers and inkpots, has seen the advent of the typewriter and trashed it, has survived the computer revolution with desktop computers (the name is fantastic if you think about it), has vacillated when the laptops came, but it’s still there, monumentally defining our work everyday since 3000 years before Christ.
Something more than a stone platform to raise objects from the ground for the Egyptians, the table has evolved to the working and eating area that it is today during the Greek and Roman empire in which the object was foldable to be pushed under the bed after use (interesting function for the time, considering that today tables are designed just as “tables”). From the middle age to nowadays the table has slightly changed, leaving imagination and design for other objects in the house or in the office: four legs, a wood plane, 70 – 75 centimeters of height, 80 or 60 x 120 – 140 cm.
About this last part please don’t bother me with ergonomics because using a laptop on a modern table is disgustingly uncomfortable, raising your hand to 75 centimeters to use a mouse is totally unnatural; I still don’t believe that the same measures are perfect to drink, eat, handwrite, use a trackpad, a mouse or look to a screen. Is your bed doing all these things together?
The table is the product that has subverted all the life cycle curves: there was a day in which, in certain offices, it was just a divider between the man in power and whoever was on the other side of it.
Usually when a product achieves such a symbolic connotation is its ‘swan last chant’ and it means that there’s space for new products… but not for the table, its majesty the table resurrected from the ashes and he’s still there, facing a new war against the wearables, Google Glasses, Oculus Rift and Interactive Gloves.
Will we really need tables in the era of Videoconferencing, Telework and Cloud? All these technologies have killed the paper, but they will have a hardlife against the table. So is the table such a useful object or will designers just be lazy because they have the symbol in Autocad?
I’m sure it will be a furious battle, but someone will still design tables in 10 years or so.
Glory to the Office Table