Musings on the shape of a table

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The discussions in Paris to end the Vietnam war involved months on negotiating the shape of the table to hold their talks on. Round, square, rectangular…who should sit where….and they finally compromised by having two square tables separated by a round one. While I am not suggesting that we should be so pedantic in our own decisions, I think a bit of thought should be put into the shape of a dining table.

I am talking, of course, of a dining table for a 7Guests dinner. So I will not go into the merits of choosing a table for a home. Interior decorating tips and ideas can be sought elsewhere.

My least favourite shape is the round one. A round table might do for a couple, or maybe a party of four, but anything larger, the distance across the table becomes to large to keep a comfortable conversation going. Especially since the dinner is at a restaurant where other patrons are holding their own conversations, background music is playing, and there is the general hustle and bustle of a lively venue. I personally find that with round tables, I end up having conversations with the guests on either side, and there is hardly ever any table wide conversation going on.

The square table is another shape, more popular than the round one. Here again, for a dinner party of eight, the size of the table required will create a lot of dead space in the centre. The same problem as with a round table also exists, distances across the table are too large to have a prolonged conversation.

The most popular shape is a rectangular table. There are a number of advantages with this shape. For the restaurant, it is easier to change the size by adding other tables at the end, so is the most flexible. Also, the distance across the table is much less. On the rectangular table, I find that I can easily speak to the guests on either side, the guest directly across and on either side of him or her and possibly another one across too. So all the opposite side, and most of my side.

There is also the oval dinner table. The advantage of the oval shape is that it is easier to see the guests on your side as well you are closer to the guests across the table. I must say that this is my favourite shape of a dining table. However I admit that the problem with this table is that it is quite impractical for a restaurant to furnish. It is almost impossible to extend the table with other tables and so its use in commercial venues is quite limited. Some oval tables are extendible and so afford a greater flexibility.

I recognise the fact a restaurant has to consider the commercial aspects when buying its furniture and so will end up investing in rectangular or small square tables which can be put together to form a rectangle for larger groups. However I would really be interested if any of you, readers, know if a restaurant which has invested in oval tables. Please leave a comment if you do.

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