Dining Room Tables and Room Acoustics
From: Ed Sutton (ed440me.com)
Date: Wed, 24 Mar 2021 06:05:16 -0700 (PDT)
Thank you for your response.

My question was motivated by my sense of loss of community since we haven’t 
shared two meals a week for a year. I wondered how different shaped tables 
might facilitate different ways of relating over meals. My thinking is shaped 
by an amateur understanding of Christopher Alexander’s pattern language 
writings.

At Eno commons we have five white plastic round tables with folding legs. They 
can seat up to eight people each and can be rolled into a closet to clear the 
room.
Not beautiful, but utilitarian. We have table cloths which are sometimes used. 
Each table has a simple wood utensil basket and pitchers of water. Vases are 
available for flowers.
If you had to choose one kind of table, this seems to be a good choice.
The floor is carpeted so acoustics are fairly good for many simultaneous 
conversations, and the table size allows for conversation across the table or 
for side conversations.

Our business meetings seemed to go best when the chairs were arranged in a 
large circle.

I recall a Quaker meeting with a carpeted, domed meeting room where it was very 
difficult to hear speakers in certain locations; because it was heavily damped, 
people tended to speak quietly despite many admonitions to speak up. The social 
room had hard surfaces everywhere, making conversations after meeting very 
difficult. People tend to underestimate the acoustic influences of a room. When 
a room is noisy, people naturally talk louder, which makes it noisier…and so on.

Ed Sutton
Eno Commons
Durham NC

>> On Mar 10, 2021, at 1:52 PM, Ed Sutton via Cohousing-L <cohousing-l [at] 
>> cohousing.org> wrote:
>> 
>> Have any communities explored or observed the influence of dining table 
>> shapes
>> on community relationships?
> 
> There is a lot of discussion in the archives about table recommendations. 
> 
> From my experience at Takoma Village ? and I would like to hear from others 
> if these correlate with theirs ? 
> 
> 1. Smaller tables for 6-8 people make for a quieter dining room. I enter the 
> dining room from a second floor corridor. I can tell when I open the door how 
> the tables are arranged just from the level of the din.
> 
> 2. Unless the group is also having a meeting or consultation, 4 seats is too 
> small. Too easy to be seen as being exclusive and hard if you get stuck in a 
> conversation you are not interested in. Hard to leave.
> 
> 3. People prefer larger tables ? long tables for 12-14 people. I think 
> because there is always room for more and when people start leaving it is 
> easy to move this way or that to talk to someone ?over there.? Conversations 
> can mix over a wider area.
> 
> If we set up tables with 6-8 seats, people will push them together. For many 
> years I have been the declutterer and table straightener for the great room. 
> I stopped trying to separate tables into less institutional arrangements 
> because after the next meal, formal or informal, the tables would be pushed 
> together again.
> 
> In interior design, if the furniture doesn?t stay where it is put, it isn?t 
> arranged properly. The arrangement doesn?t match the use.
> 
> Sharon
> ----
> Sharon Villines
> Takoma Village Cohousing, Washington DC
> http://www.takomavillage.org
> 

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