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The Well-Appointed Desk

Mimi O'Conner

Be steady and well-ordered in your life so that you can be fierce and original in your work. —Gustave Flaubert

A person’s workspace is a deeply personal, and actually, quite a revealing thing. Look at the environment in which a person works, creates, and procrastinates, and you’ll see the architecture of his or her mind, rendered in the form of paper, pens, or perhaps even a favorite postcard.. Do they make piles, file everything away, surround themselves with color and texture, or maintain an almost Spartan-like, minimalist environment, free of any distractions from the tasks at hand? Bedrooms tell you very little. Offices? — They reveal the soul.

We all know that one person’s creative clutter is another’s gateway to madness, so no judgment there — whatever works for you. There are, however, some basics to the well-appointed desk that everyone should have on hand when they sit down to work. Consider the following:


Unless you work strictly on the schedule of the sun, you’re going to need a light. It’s important—and, if you like — a statement piece, so go ahead and splurge. A review of the desks of some of history’s most creative minds would have one think a task lamp is essential for inspiration. Thankfully, these are all the rage now, and can easily be found as vintage pieces or new, updated takes on an old classic.

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Apparently some people are more productive standing all day. If that’s you, skip this. If not, this is another chance to make a statement — with color, with style, with comfort. Whatever you decide, just make sure it’s the right height, or the eventual pain in your back (or shoulders, or wrists) will prevent you from keeping your eye on the prize.


Look, sometimes it’s just faster to write something down old school-style. A brainstorm jotted down on paper is a different, sometimes better animal than one tapped out on a keyboard — big or small. Plus: notebooks are exceptionally portable and you don’t even have to turn them on when an episode of genius strikes. Pick one that suits your personality and style.


People get crazy about pens. With good reason: a bad pen can be a deal-breaker. If you own a nice pen and someone uses it, do you know what he or she will say?: “Nice pen.” Guaranteed. A really nice pen with some craftsmanship and heft?: Instant signifier that you are an individual not to be trifled with. We suggest this one, which in addition to possessing great style, heritage, and mechanics, will work at Everest Base Camp.

Office Supplies

I sounds so boring, and yet, office supplies can be some of the most exciting things on a desk. Ditch the standard paper clip for a distinct one with style; add some color and whimsy to your space with some retro push pins or employ a stapler that exemplifies industrial design and refuses to hide in a drawer.

"The Well-Appointed Desk" on #Zady #Features #Stories

A Good Mug

Drink coffee, drink tea, or drink a hot toddy on a cold winter evening. A trusty mug is not just utilitarian and sustainable, it’s a comrade-in-arms that’s always by your side when you sit down to work.

A Thing of Beauty

You know the saying: all work and no play…Don’t be dull. Bring something you love to your space — a photo, a work of art, a vase of fresh flowers — to both inspire you and remind you why you do what you do in the first place.


Want to blow someone’s mind? Send them a thank you note. Almost Victorian, always appreciated, a hand-written thank you note not only guarantees you won’t be forgotten, but also imparts the sincerity of your gratitude — and isn’t that the whole point? Try these.

Mimi O'Connor is a freelance web, book, and magazine writer residing in Brooklyn, New York.