What happened to the dining room table? - Deepstash
Managing Energy

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Formal Dining: A History

Formal Dining: A History

For many centuries, a dining table at home spelled class and dignity. Ancient Greeks called it an andron, a place to eat and have discussions, even get entertained by performing artists.

The dining table constructed a power dynamic that happens when people of different class, race or gender relations sit and eat together, something that was replicated across centuries and in all advanced civilizations of the past.


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Fancy Dining Tables

  • The modern American dining table is modelled after the 1800s Victorian England, where it was a display of social status.
  • Fine dining furniture with beautiful tablescapes was an art in itself. There were different dining sets used to serve food, like fine china for special occasions.
  • It was a lavish sight with beautiful linen and chairs. The etiquette of eating food was part of the dining ritual.
  • Different serving apparatus and utensils for specific foods conveyed that one is cultured, refined and classy.


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The Eat-In Kitchen

The 1920s saw the kitchen become the living room of the house. People installed new appliances and invited friends and relatives for dinner just to show off. This gave rise to the concept of eat-in kitchens and resulted in the kitchen eating up the dining table. Americans also started working more and ate together infrequently.

The rise of television in the 50s made frozen TV Dinners a popular concept, even though it was cheap, horrible food. The eat-in kitchen became the living room where kids did their homework and ate casual meals right after it was prepared by their moms.


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The Dining Table In The Modern Age

Now we do not usually indulge in formal theatrics of hosting dinner parties on a dining table and are comfortable sitting on the floor if needed. We are not stressed up about eating etiquettes or dress codes, focusing on the quality of the company rather than their furniture.

Modern, heavily populated cities don’t have the bandwidth for expansive wooden dining tables, as rents are high and the furniture, dinner sets and cabinets would serve no real purpose. Those who can afford it go for installing a theatre or movie hall with a giant LED screen.


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How And What We Eat

  • Cooking has undergone a major change in the last 20 years. Grubhub, DoorDash and UberEats bring all kinds of food to our doorstep, helping us avoid making dinner. Looking at the billion-dollar revenues of these apps, it is safe to say this is how people would prefer in the near future.
  • We go dining in fine restaurants to enjoy exotic food, posting pics on social media, engaging actively in food culture.
  • We enjoy random meals and snacks throughout the day, in the bedroom, near the fridge or in the kitchen itself, decreasing our reliance on well-cooked home meals, promoting processed snacks or food cooked in commercial kitchens.


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The Loneliness Epidemic

Post-modernist trends lean towards comfort and freeform styles, with the formal dining table not compatible with the lifestyle of the current generation. People are increasingly lonely, giving rise to the loneliness epidemic despite being hyper-connected virtually.

The near future seems isolated and the return towards a special, sacred place to dine together does not look likely.


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