The Table of Ideas

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“The Table was not only visually stunning, but the idea behind it underpinned everything we were trying to achieve during the [Adult Learning] festival: to provide access to learning for all, in new ways, in new spaces, and working with new partners.  I can see the format being used in a variety of situations.” – Julie Watson, Project Officer, Adult Learning, Brighton & Hove City Council

What is The Table of Ideas?

The Table of Ideas is a curated conversation that encourages the circulation and sharing of ideas around a specified theme; a public meal framed and contextualised as an art event. It provides a focus for consultation, evaluation and participation, working with depth and precision, humour and heart.

The Table of Ideas responds to the commissioner’s needs and chosen location in every detail. At the planning stage we identify a central question or focus subject; this then informs the subtle strategies we embed in the visual design, as well as the choice of food and the way it is shared. As the Table’s hosts, we both guide and extend conversations with direct dialogue and gentle creative interventions.The experience lasts for a maximum of 3 hours as a stand-alone drop-in event; or can form part of a whole day session, for example, in the context of a training day.

Examples of Tables we have designed:

The [BLANK] Table of Ideas a conversation about the life and death of ideas (context: adult education festival)

The [DEMOCRACY] Table of Ideas – a conversation about balance in an unsteady world (context: Democracy Day)

The [ARK!] Table of Ideas – a conversation about fresh ideas for a tough climate (context: sustainability)

The [ESSENTIAL] Table of Ideas – a conversation about art as an essential vitamin (context: youth arts engagement)

The [TIME] Table of Ideas – a conversation about times, lines and interludes (
context: celebration of 100-year company history & new HQ launch)

The [FIRST IMPRESSIONS] Table of Ideas a conversation about being lost and finding ways (context: disability & urban navigation)

The Table of Ideas is also an evaluation tool, generating different kinds of documentation that may include photos, “table-cloth notes”, sound recordings, drawings and video, to contribute to the further development of ideas and suggestions emerging from the process. It can provide clarity, information and inspiration in a wide range of contexts such as strategic planning, informal research or the examination of organisational dynamics. It can be used in workplaces, corporations, public spaces (such as galleries, museums and libraries), conferences, universities and  with special interest groups.

What people have said:

“ … focuses on the process and not the end product. It is flexible, inspiring and engaging and can be adapted to suit a union of people from a mix of sectors. The creators are accessible, intelligent, intuitive, and sensitive, they are imbued with wisdom, integrity and creativity, a pleasure to spend time with.” – Branwen Lorigan, Economic Development Officer, Creative & Environmental Industries, Brighton & Hove City Council

“A cross between The Last Supper and Alice in Wonderland” – participant at The [ARK!] Table of Ideas, University of Sussex

“The Table of Ideas is awesomely simple, yet awesomely effective. The [ARK!] Table here on the Sussex University campus was a truly nourishing feast for mind, body and spirit.” – River Jones, Convenor, Centre for Community Engagement, University of Sussex

“Brilliant and inspiring – every library should have one!” – participant at The [BLANK] Table of Ideas, Jubilee Library Brighton