Plable

2006
Yumiko Tanaka

RCA Society and Thames & Hudson ArtBook Prize 2006

On the final list of Design for Our Future Selves Award

Context

Adults and children live in their own imaginary worlds despite the fact that they are living in the same space. Their everyday lives are sometimes incompatible and their physical differences can form separate territories in the same space.

Description

Plable is a table, which has a normal tabletop and an imaginary world on the underside.
With this table, children can build their own imaginary world on the underside of the table, which is their secret special place, with opposite gravity. Adults can use the surface of the table as usual.
The movement, such as moving tea cups, that happens on the tabletop will be a trigger of the happenings on the underside. They can show children some exciting tricks and do their own things at the same time.
The connection of the surfaces gets children and parents together.
It also might help children and adults to play together more often through their normal activities in the everyday environment.

The idea

The idea comes from my old memories. When I was a child, I like to put sticker everywhere in house, and my father hated it and took off all of them when I was sleeping. However, one day, I realised there were some stickers left underside of the table, then started to think of that as my secret space. Since then, I put many stickers on the underside and tried to create my world.

As can be seen with this experience, there are some children’s territories in a house and normally they are in very low level or in narrow places, in other words, these are places that are too confined for adults and they rarely look in.

Moreover, another experience expanded this idea. I have a nephew, who is three years old, and I played with him sometimes. Maybe most children are the same, once they like one play, they keep asking to do it again and again. I remember, it is very difficult have their own time to do something relaxing when people have a little child. When I started to look for the way that kids and adults play together, I wanted to give parents some space to do their own things to treat themselves, like reading papers or having a cup of tea.

Then, I started to design this table.

Video (concept)

Video (concept)

I spend two month to build the working prototype.
I started with idea sketch, then did some research and build the table.
Here is the slide-show of the document of making Plable.

The table