Kotatsu are lovely, although you have to be careful not to accidentally bang your knees on the heater if you’re taller than average.
I’m not sure how useful they would be outside of a Japanese home though. They only really exist because insulation in traditional Japanese houses is basically non-existent. When the summers get up to near 40c with 90+% humidity, it makes sense to have as little cladding on the walls as possible (maybe even some holes you can see sunlight through, because a breeze is always nice).
When it hits freezing in the winter though, a kotatsu is a great way to heat a very localised area without pumping out heat through those same wafer-thin, holey walls.
There’s an argument to be made in favour of the occupants of a given residence sitting around a small table all evening; it’s a great way to bond and unwind after a long day.
That said, I’d much rather take “being able to feel my toes anywhere I choose to sit” over “being forced to sit in the same place as everyone else all evening because the alternative is frostbite” any day of the week.
ETA: If you are looking for a low table to use as a workstation while sitting on the floor, a kotatsu could potentially work.
I would say, however, that having warm legs and a cold upper body can make one very sleepy indeed, which could be problematic in terms of productivity.
I’m also pretty convinced that a large part of the reason that I have regular problems with my lower back is sitting on the floor for extended periods when I lived in Japan.
YMMV of course, but just the idea of typing at a low table for long periods without proper lumbar support makes my back start preemptively spasming…
Yes, I’m interested mainly in the table. The entire setup is intriguing, but mostly I’m looking for a table that’s the right height for working at on the floor. I have a classmate who has gotten into woodworking. I’m thinking of commissioning a piece from him but wasn’t sure the height I’d want, so I thought I might try one of these as a starting place and see how it feels. I’m thinking they might be a little low for a Westerner.
I sit on the floor and use it when we eat in the living room. I have also used it while working although it’s not particularly comfortable to do that for very long. If you squeeze in between the couch and table, at least you have a backrest. But there are also usually too many distractions in the living room, the family tends to cover the table with clutter, and the cats like to lay on it.
I also had a folding lap tray, about the same height and easy to move around and setup wherever. It was a bit too small though, so I had to use my mouse on the floor and take the laptop off to plug/unplug things in. Another was a folding lap desk; similar but a bit bigger, adjustable height, and with the ability to tilt the part of the top that holds the laptop to be more comfortable. However by the time I got that, I had grown too accustomed to having a second monitor, external keyboard, etc., so I didn’t use it much.
That said, this is why I think some of the old architecture methods should return. Exterior hallways instead of interior, with windows. Long eaves over them or a porch to cut down on high overhead sunlight in summer, but still allow low sunlight in winter. Rooms centered around a central heating source.
One place I lived had electric heaters built into the walls - exterior walls. Because they were in the walls, there was no room for insulation behind or around them. Their placement? Directly beneath windows, where most of the heat escaped and having curtains would be a fire hazard. Another place had heat vents, which sounds better except it had high ceilings and where do you think they put the vents? In the ceiling. If you stood on the furniture, your face would be warm but your feet would still be freezing. At least it kept the attic warm.
You might be interested to know I saw my apartment manager’s helper make the (most likely) 173rd wire splice in the building’s electrical rat’s nest of extension cords. Okay, rat’s nest is a little harsh. How about abandoned beginnings of a spider web?