Several years ago I was working in the library of the RSA in London and fell into conversation with two people at the same table.
We had to whisper, as after all this was a library, but we got to talking about the fact that although many people used the RSA library and bar and other facilities there was no easy way to meet people and strike up a conversation if you were there on your own.
I talked about some of my conference ideas such as wearing a badge that said “talk to me” or even creating special tables where people could sit with the expectation of talking to strangers. And we discussed what a great idea it would be if the RSA had something like this.
It was then that one of my new acquaintances told me about the German concept of Stammtisch.
I had never heard about it before but when he explained the concept I immediately fell in love with the idea. A Stammtisch is a table in a pub or restaurant reserved for regular customers or alternatively outside of Germany a table reserved for people who would like to meet to practice their German.
I liked the idea of bending the concept a little further and creating tables in bars, cafes and large conferences etc where people can sit if they wish to have conversations with strangers. Many people need a little bit of an excuse to start up a conversation and this would provide it but maybe it needs a new label – a “knowledge table” or “conversation table”.
That was in 2007 when I talked to several people at the RSA about the idea but nothing came of it, so imagine my delight today in 2018 when I see they have created a Stammtisch table their new Rawthmells coffeehouse.