Napkin Table puts focus off the phone and on the food

napkin table
Credit: Michael Jan

Snubbing someone by checking your smartphone while dining is not a palatable sight – but this gave one designer some food for thought in creating a strap-on table for two that encourages concentration and conversation. Michael Jan, a design student at Tunghai University in Taiwan, has invented a serviette-picnic blanket hybrid called the Napkin Table, where each diner attaches one end of the table to themselves, forcing them to focus on the food (so it won’t flip over) and each other for conversation. Jan explains the concept to Metro and what to do when strapped in with an awful dinner date.

Everyone’s dined with someone who was more interested in their phone, so was this the inspiration of your table?

Yes, I found out if two napkins could be connected and used as a table, then it would be a natural block against people using their smartphone during mealtimes. Both diners have to work together to make sure the table is steady enough to eat from. In that way, people can have more interaction at the dining table than before. But I’m not trying to say whether using a phone while eating is good or bad. I want users to make their own conclusions through this new dining experience.

What’s it like to eat from the Napkin Table? Wobbly?

It’s very convenient: all you need is two seats and already you have a table. It only weighs 700 grams so it’s not really a burden on anyone’s neck – but that depends on what kind of food you eat, I suppose. I’ve tried many different things with my classmates: French fries, sandwiches, spaghetti …

Spaghetti? Sounds messy.

It definitely is. Remember that every movement affects the table’s integrity. One time when I was having a spaghetti lunch with my friend, I was about to take a bite of the pasta, when she deliberately leaned back on her chair. You can imagine what happened next… All the noodles I tried to stuff into my mouth fell onto the table. We would then start messing around like this.

Say you’re stuck with a horrible date for dinner. What happens next?

I think I would stealthily stretch out my hand towards her underneath the table and then give her plate a swift pat to make all the food and drink go flying [Laughs]. But seriously, I don’t think the Napkin Table is appropriate first date material. It might be too awkward.

Your classmates have tried the table out. What’s been their reaction?

Some say it takes the dining experience to a whole new dimension, while others have questioned its practicality, as in what do you do if you have to go to the toilet or have neck spasms, etc. Maybe the Napkin Table is many things: fun, impractical and something that conveys a social message.



News
Entertainment
Sports
Lifestyle
Local

Gunther from 'Friends' talks Central Perk

We spoke with Gunther (James Michael Tyler) at the preview for new pop-up Central Perk, based on the cafe in "Friends."

Local

Central Perk opens in SoHo

Central Perk, of "Friends" fame, is giving out free coffee in SoHo through Oct. 18.

National

Beer sponsor Anheuser-Busch reproaches NFL over domestic abuse

Anheuser-Busch chastised the NFL for its handling of domestic violence cases, making it the first major advertiser to put pressure on the league.

Local

Sen. Krueger dishes on prospect of legal marijuana…

New Yorkers may see the legalization of recreational marijuana use as early as 2015 if State Senator Liz Krueger (D) gets her way. The Marijuana Regulation and Taxation Act will…

Music

FREEMAN makes Freeman a free man from Ween

For nearly 30 years, Aaron Freeman was known endearingly to his listeners as Gene Ween. But with "FREEMAN," he makes it clear that he's gone somewhere else.

Television

'Outlander' recap: Season 1, Episode 6: 'The Garrison…

Whipping, punching, kicking and a marriage contract. "Outlander" is not for the faint of heart this week with "The Garrison Commander."

The Word

The Word: Hey girl, it's a girl for…

It's a girl for Ryan Gosling and Eva Mendes, who reportedly welcomed a daughter last Friday, according to Us Weekly. The super-private couple managed to…

Television

TV watch list, Tuesday, Sept. 16: 'New Girl,'…

Check out the season premiere of "New Girl," as Jess competes with Jessica Biel for a guy's attentions.

MLB

5 top contenders for NL Rookie of the…

The outing rekindled award talk for deGrom, who appears to hold the top spot for NL Rookie of the Year honors. Metro breaks down a few other contenders.

College

College football Top 25 poll (AP rankings)

College football Top 25 poll (AP rankings)

NFL

Tom Coughlin says Giants 'beat themselves' against Cardinals

Head coach Tom Coughlin, who had a day to cool off and reflect, still sounded like he had a gnawing feeling in his gut.

NFL

Marty Mornhinweg accepts blame for Jets timeout fiasco

Jets fans looking for a scapegoat for Sunday’s timeout fiasco found a willing party on Monday: Marty Mornhinweg.

Style

Rachel Zoe: New York Fashion Week Spring 15

Rachel Zoe goes 'Glam bohemia' for Spring.

Food

Where to find SweeTango apples

Introduced in 2009, SweeTango — a hybrid of Honeycrisp and Zestar — is a sweet apple with plenty of crunch.

Style

London Fashion Week recap

London Fashion week gets in on the action with politics, heritage and summertime living.

Food

Padma Lakshmi's recipe for green mango curry

Padma Lakshmi shares her recipe for green mango curry in UNICEF's new book, "UNICHEF."