Imagine that you are dining with some friends, having a lively conversation. At some point, one by one, people around the table start poking their noses into their smart- phones, their minds wandering away from their physical surroundings. It probably sounds familiar, since it has become a typical scene in our society.
The strait tablecloth is an inquiry into the influence of new technologies and new media on social and cultural aspects of meal sharing. On the one hand, it is designed to help diners focus on each other, creating a pretty, almost romantic setting; yet at the same time it is an ugly tool, very restricting and uncomfortable, imposing its own behavioural rules.
The tablecloth averts the usage of touch screen technologies, as participants are required to use gloves attached to it. It also encourages two table mates sitting next to each other to cooperate by using one fork and one knife to cut a shared meal, while two table mates facing each other are encouraged to drink from their glasses simultaneously. These imposed actions trigger interactive responses through an Arduino
Lilypad controller sawn into the textile with conductive thread.
Liberating and interfering at the same time, the strait tablecloth aims at uncovering behaviour rules and making its users aware of the every-day processes and the interhuman communication around the table.