No smartphones at the dinner table. It’s a good rule, generally. But sadly, it’s one that is rarely observed anymore whether at home or outside of the domestic environment. Go to a restaurant and smartphones are prominently displayed on the table, like a piece of necessary silverware. Many a first date has been torpedoed because a potential amour couldn’t stop texting or checking email.
The Napkin Table (via FastCompany) aims to make a dent in that modern phenomenon, however, and in so doing, improve our experience of one another — and the meal being shared. The design, though, is a bit out there. Think of the Napkin Table as a kind of two-person tablecloth/bib that attaches to each person’s neck via a strap. The fabric that hangs in the middle acts as the serving surface, or “table”, upon which the diners eat. And on this “table” there’s no room for your smartphone.
The design is the brainchild of a group of Industrial Design students, primarily Michael Jan, from the University of Taiwan.
Jan told FastCompany’s Adele Peters that the invention isn’t really supposed to be a practical solution to the crisis in modern etiquette and or a cure-all for the ways in which tiny handheld devices get in the way of our relationships on a daily basis.
Think of it more as a thought experiment, says Jan.
“It’s an experimental product responding to the social dining phenomenon. It’s not a product focusing on how to solve the modern habit of eating with cell phones. Instead, users can reflect on this dining phenomenon happening in our everyday lives.”
After pausing to reflect, users might want to get practical too. Popping their smartphones into a drawer, or leaving them in the car so as to better enjoy the meal and the company. It sounds infinitely preferable to strapping on the Napkin Table, don’t you think?