Smartphone-free dining thanks to signal-blocking tablecloth
These days, we don't seem to be able to function without our phones. This phenomenon triggered designer Ralf Lambie to create SAMEN: The social tablecloth that encourages people to ignore their phones while eating. The special pockets in the tablecloth work like a Faraday Cage: no messages or calls come in, and there are no vibrations or illuminated screens. No quick googling or sharing pictures of your meal on Instagram, just focusing on your dinner partners.
SAMEN will silence your phone
In Dutch, the word ‘samen’ means together. And that is what this tablecloth is about: reuniting people around the dinner table. SAMEN blocks your phone’s distractions and promotes face-to-face interaction. It encourages you to temporarily store your smartphone in one of the signal-blocking pockets during a dinner party. This allows you to talk to your lover, friends, or family without being interrupted. The rest of the world can wait.
The New Luxury: back to old-fashioned dining
Our phones play increasingly important roles in our lives, even at the very dining table. Look around any restaurant, and you will notice straight away that many people are interacting with their smartphones. They seem more interested in what's going on in the outside world than right at their own table.
And that’s such a shame. Researchers at British Columbia University discovered that people who use their smartphones during dinner with family or friends enjoy it less than those who don’t. And research conducted at Virginia Tech showed that the mere presence of a smartphone, even when it isn’t used, has a negative impact on the quality of one-on-one conversations. People are less likely to open up to the other person and have more difficulty expressing their deeper feelings.
This tablecloth was created in response to the social development that smartphones invade our quality time. Gradually, smartphones have become the main disruptors of our intimate relationships. There is more and more research that confirms the negative consequences of smartphone use at social gatherings. We believe it's time to banish the smartphone from the dinner table. SAMEN invites you to ignore your smartphone during dinner and shift your attention to your dinner companions.
How does SAMEN work?
You put your phone in one of the pockets of the tablecloth, which are made of a special fabric with a metal lining. This lining blocks all signals and works as a Faraday Cage. Your phone will not ring, since the signal is unable to penetrate the pocket. No messages or calls come in, no vibrations or illuminated screens go out. The caller will most likely be redirected to your voicemail, since your phone cannot connect to a network. It will allow you to talk to your lover, friends, or family without any disturbances.
What makes SAMEN unique?
Faraday bags and signal-blocking boxes have been available for some time. These are mainly marketed to protect valuable data and personal data from interception. There are also apps and dumb phones that help you ignore your smartphone as much as possible. SAMEN is unique in the fact that these features are integrated into a tablecloth. SAMEN encourages diners to put their phones in the special signal-blocking pockets. And so, the phones are literally off the table. This is important, as research shows that the mere presence of a smartphone may have a negative impact on the atmosphere.
Is SAMEN a necessity?
That depends on how you look at it. You could just turn off your smartphone. Or put it in Flight mode. And we encourage you to do so. SAMEN was designed to give a subtle nudge to anyone who has a hard time achieving this. By placing your smartphone in one of the special pockets of the tablecloth, you show your dinner companion(s) that they are deserving all of your attention. The rest of the world can wait.
Where can I buy SAMEN?
Nowhere, at this point. SAMEN was developed for LUXE? Veranderende Verlangens, an exhibition on the theme of luxury. It was exhibited at Design Museum Cube in Kerkrade (the Netherlands). We are currently exploring its potential for further development.