As Simple as a Kitchen Table
When our respondents enter watchLAB, we don’t want them to feel as if they’re coming into an antiseptic, clinical dentist’s office, nervously waiting for their teeth to be pulled, unconsciously clamping their mouths shut. There are no six month old copies of Reader’s Digest shoved between faded chairs. Instead, we create comfortable spaces to encourage conversations. That’s why our respondent waiting room centers around a simple kitchen table.
There’s nothing simple about a kitchen table, though.
The kitchen table is where the party starts, and where the party ends. It’s where families gather, week in and week out, to eat and to talk while passing platters and debating the relative merits of the sitting president. When a friend really feels “at home,” they don’t need permission to sit down at the table — they just walk on up and take a seat.
It’s the feeling of the kitchen table that communal-style restaurants emulate, where you can rub shoulders with neighbors and strangers alike, taste the care poured into the food, and swap stories and jokes. It’s the house party potluck where each guest brings their own special recipe, where the gourmet food and libations are spread across the table for all. It’s the place to mingle and gossip, catching up on what’s new and reminisce about old times gone by.
The kitchen table has more stories to tell than anywhere else in the home. It has seen cutlery wars and high school art projects, purposeful spills and accidental seven course meals. It sees arguments and celebrations, heart-to-hearts and nail-biting debates. It’s the cornerstone, the definition of hearth and home. The table has a very real life of its own.
You can’t reinvent the kitchen table. It can change shape, size, even color, you can dress it in different clothes, call it a dining room table, or a respondent waiting area, but it’ll always be exactly what it is: a place where conversation happens, a place where people feel the need to share, a home, even if you’re away from home.
We rely on people engaging with others and not closing themselves off. When watchLAB started we didn’t buy this “idea,” the power of the kitchen table, but it just works. You can feel that atmosphere in our groups. They’re warmer and smoother, the tempo already set for sharing.
That’s because there’s no better place to start a conversation than with new friends around a simple kitchen table.
Blake Chastain is a writer and marketer. His obsessions are media, technology, and video games. Blake lives in the Rogers Park neighborhood of Chicago with his wife and daughter.
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