Saturday, 4 April 2015

On Round Tables

Pic of wooden rounded table artwork with different sized chairs embedded in it
Round table artwork in modern art gallery at Beaubourg

A wall of neon signs flash "open" in numerous languages as you enter the main modern art gallery at the Centre Georges Pompidou. There is a large, round wooden table just inside the entrance. Round tables hold an important place in open negotiations and in international peace.

Pic of neon-lit "open" signs in multiple languages at modern art gallery entrance
Neon "open" signs in different languages at gallery entrance

Furniture as artwork

The unusual table drew this carpenter's daughter in for a closer look. Furniture presented as artwork is perhaps more unexpected to others. The round table concept is also very familiar to me. I grew up near Glastonbury in Somerset. Glastonbury is reputed to be King Arthur's legendary Avalon. The idea of a round table is that it can have no head. There is a no preferential seating order, because there is no head of the table to sit near. Everyone seated at a round table is considered an equal.

Round table trend

I have attended a number of events using the round table format during the past year. The Institute of Translation and Interpreting (ITI) used it at the London Language Show in late 2014. The same format was used successfully by UKTI at their recent Big Data event in Paris. It was also used at the FinTech Assembly in London in late February 2015.


The advantage of the round table approach is that everyone gets an opportunity to speak. Less confident participants can feel more comfortable to speak in the more informal setting. You are also more likely to identify the right potential partners for your business. The approach lends itself to better networking and after event follow-ups.

Round table artwork

The table in the modern art gallery is elevated from the floor. Maybe this signifies that it is intended for those in elevated positions? There are words carved into table's centre. With my feet firmly on the floor as an ordinary citizen, I couldn't get the necessary height to read them. It seemed odd that the chairs were embedded in the table. I couldn't find any explanation of the piece. Nor could I find details on its maker. I noticed that the chairs at the table were not all the same. Not equal. Some were larger and stronger than others. Some seemed slightly crooked. One looked as if it might crack under any weight.


Even if seated at a round table, all parties in a negotiation are rarely equal. In international negotiations, the more dominant personalities and stronger nations should allow alternative views to be heard.

Karen Andrews, content writer
Karen Andrews runs
Anglicity Ltd. She is
an entrepreneurial
French to English
translator, editor,
content writer and
marketing consultant. 

for further information 
on Anglicity's services.

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