People play this ping pong variant, under different names, all around the world.

Play with any number of players, each has one paddle. There’s one ball for all. In general, hit ball and move to your right. When you flub a shot, you’re out. The last two players face off. He or she who wins two out of three points wins the Runaround. Everyone comes back to the table. In Berlin they hit the table with the stubby end of the paddle handle. The sound summons everyone. The whole cycle takes maybe 4 minutes.

Runaround is a game of attrition where you cooperate. If big, the group starts with a slow walk, then faster, then they run, then they scramble.

However, we like to play Runaway (or “Round the World”) as a game where you cooperate to keep everyone in a jog that circles the table. The volleys last a long time. The group gets in rhythm. Everyone listens to the sound of people’s breaths, the feet as they hit the ground, the pock sound of the paddle hits the ball. Everyone dreads the gong sound of the ball hitting the net. No slams—until the two-person final: Reserve the kill instinct until you have only one opponent—if you make it to the final.

One player holds ball, serves, moves along table counterclockwise, to the right. Receiver of serve returns shot, and moves to right.


Someday we’ll fill in the numbers:

% population with basic table tennis skills:

Table tennis players per capita:

Table tennis players per capita per zip code:

Table tennis players per capita per zip code per bracket:

Players area: 300 square feet minimum.

Cost to purchase:

Cost amortized over expected life cycle:

Maintenance cost concrete table tennis table, per year:

Maintenance cost tennis court, per year:

Size of tennis court:

Expected annual number of users, tennis court (male, female):

Annual users/size of court:

Expected annual number of users, basket court (male, female), includes watchers:

Maintenance cost basketball court, per year:

Size of bocce court:

Maintenance cost bocce court, per year:

Expected annual number of users, bocce court (male, female), includes watchers:

Cost of entry-level table tennis paddle and 20 1 star balls:

Cost of nice paddle, rubber, and 144 3-star balls:

Cost to train dog to retrieve table tennis balls but not nip opponents:

And so on.

The game in the light of day

Most people carry ping pong skills in muscle memory. When people play, they laugh. Players at every level flub a ton of shots—and make shots of sheer genius. Ping pong is ancient. (Actually it’s about 120.) It’s in our bones.

Put up a table and hands itch to play. People come. They linger and pass, watch, mix, and meet. They show off. They howl in protest if you invite them in—say they haven’t played in 30 years. (Somehow they always say 30, not 20 or 10.) 3 minutes later they play like they haven’t missed a day.

It’s a nice looking table; part sculpture. But more it’s about what it does to the space around it.

Artisanal Ping Pong

HENGE designs a ping pong table. A table with a sculptural side. Or a sculpture you can play ping pong on.

It’s a nice-looking piece.

But the table is more about the space around it—how to bring people into it. How to get your eyes off your phone. How to listen. How to play.

Designed for safety. Engineered to last. Made in the US.

What’s so great about ping pong?

The game is blind to your age, gender, nationality, ethnic type.

Teaches courtesy.

You stretch your gluteus and back when you pick up balls.

Passersby in a hurry actually detour to retrieve your runaway ball and hand it to you.

You warm up gently. You shift your weight from leg to leg, over and over, in rhythm. Like in dance. As you age, this surprises you.

You face and play someone ten feet away. Close enough to see expression and hear how they breathe. Your eyes may not meet. And then occasionally they do.

Rare is the player who can avoid to laugh. Some groan. Almost everyone laughs.

All kids slam in their first lessons. Look where it gets them.

Some people prefer to play for points. Some only volley.

Play outdoors is different than play indoors.

All skills, whether in golf, ping pong, oration, or fly fishing, derive from how your hips push your legs into the ground.

Ties soccer for world-wide popularity.

Progress results when you stop moving your arm and start to move your torso.

Welcome outdoors, ping pong player. You now must contend with dust, heat, sun glare, watchers, the smells from the dog run next door, scrutiny and kibitzers, ever-occupied tables, rain, grit, wind, ice, temperature, dusk, insects, drones, lack of shade, lack of water, dogs, squirrels that seize runaway balls, distraction, nets shorter than the regulation six feet. As if those weren’t enough, you have to preserve face. That is, if your opponent fails to mention any of these as a problem, it’s hard to be the first one to complain. Misery loves company.

Our Goals

  • To bring table tennis outside. More people, young and old, male and female, play it than any other game in the world.

  • To make something solid that adds grace and is always there. Like an oak tree or a grandmother.

  • To give people a way to find what they have in common.

  • To offer a chance for poor and rich to play with each other.

  • To help kids see in the real world, in 3D—which eyes don’t do when they focus on screens.