If only tables were more like your phone

Chances are you’re on a computer right now. Behind this window (and probably a dozen other windows) is something called a desktop. Like a desk, it can be messy or clean and contain a bunch of tools that you use for fun or productivity. This concept is loosely translated to mobile devices; the organization is better, the ‘desktop’ is smaller, but the symbolism is the same. Now, let’s transfer that concept BACK to the desk. A real physical desk. Okay a table. Confused? Befuddled? Annoyed? Still in the mood for a name that’s a mash up of two words? ADAPTable by MAMIKIM & CO.


Here’s how ADAPTable is described on the MAMIKIM website:

ADAPTable is based on the playful concept of customising the work space to best suit an individual’s needs.

The work surface consists of six A4 sized modular panels slotted into the main structure.

The collection of modular panels available are each designed to fulfil a different range of functions.

So yes, it has lots of modular opportunities to customize your table to suit your needs. There’s another product on the market that’s very similar to the ADAPTable that does roughly the same thing but doesn’t require modular assembly. It’s called a Table. Yes, for the low low price of whatever you can find on craigslist (or Ikea. Or anywhere). You too can own your very own Table. It also comes with a variety of options, for example: Anything you can imagine that can be put on a table.


Modular schmodular
Okay, modularity has been this design mantra for whatever reason for quite some time. Some times that’s good, especially when it lowers cost and makes sense (like in IKEA furniture). Sometimes it’s not. This is a latter case, because presumably, you’d have a library of these table pieces that you’d have to assemble for optimized table… work. Alternatively, if you rarely had to change your modular table, then what’s the point of having these different modules in the first place? Even the modules on display are boring. A dip to hold pens and pencils? A cup holder? You know what else works as a cup holder? Flat surfaces.

I am redundant and so am I
The main problem that makes this table Flawesome is that  it doesn’t do anything better than what a table already does. If anything it’s worse. Putting pieces together leads to uneven surfaces; so don’t draw over any of the divides. It also locks you in more than frees you to optimize. Guess you can only do grid work on that one part of the table now. Everything that the ADAPTable does can be done by just putting something on a table. It’s the equivalent of having remotes built into a sofa’s arms: amusing to think about, but pointlessly impractical.

Adapt this
Customization isn’t bad. Modularity isn’t bad. But this project smells of design for design’s sake. The question being asked here is not “What if we could design something better?” but “What if we could design something different?”. Difference isn’t good enough. That’s the low bar. As designers, we should reach higher.