Join 3,496 readers in helping fund MetaFilter (Hide)


Simple Desks
July 30, 2012 7:01 PM   Subscribe

Simple Desks: A frequently updated collection of beautifully minimal desks and workspaces, interspersed with occasional musings on minimalism, productivity, design and technology
posted by Egg Shen (48 comments total) 19 users marked this as a favorite

 
It mostly seems like a love letter to white latex paint; except for a few $expensive spaces, it looks like your average "show us your desk" thread, just with white walls and no documents on the desks.
posted by Monday, stony Monday at 7:09 PM on July 30, 2012


Most of them aren't even simple. More like "clean your desk, then show it to us".

Also, anyone "musing on" productivity is doing it rong.
posted by DU at 7:16 PM on July 30, 2012 [1 favorite]


It just goes to show, people will blog about anything.
posted by crunchland at 7:23 PM on July 30, 2012 [2 favorites]


It mostly seems like a love letter to white latex paint and Apple computers.

FTFY
posted by jamincan at 7:34 PM on July 30, 2012 [6 favorites]


Some of these are tasteful, even beautiful, but honestly, looking at them at length just depresses me.

90% of them are in places that I will never, ever be able to own, rent, or hell, even visit.

I can't even afford any of the Apple gear that is the centerpiece of so many of these.

Thank you internet, you keep finding new and interesting ways to remind me just how low on the totem pole I am.
posted by KHAAAN! at 7:41 PM on July 30, 2012 [6 favorites]


The internet says "Your welcome! Would you like to see some utterly unattainable women in provocative poses wearing next to nothing? Or I have some cats."
posted by Foam Pants at 7:53 PM on July 30, 2012 [23 favorites]


After 3 pages of those workspaces I have come to the conclusion that they remain so beautifully minimal because no one can sit in those chairs for more than 20 minutes at a time. My butt hurts just looking at those Kartell stools.
posted by The Elusive Architeuthis at 7:55 PM on July 30, 2012 [10 favorites]


No kidding about the white. This seems like a pretty narrow definition of "minimalist". Also, I can't imagine anything getting done in a lot of these spaces.
posted by brundlefly at 8:02 PM on July 30, 2012


Shit there was someone a few years ago, and I can't recall if it was a computer scientist or a physicist, but I remember reading an article and seeing pictures of how utterly messy their desk was, but now I can't find it. Anybody know who I'm thinking of?
posted by symbioid at 8:06 PM on July 30, 2012


I think these are workspaces only in the sense that someone worked really hard to get them to look like that. Any additional work performed in these spaces was purely by accident.
posted by RonButNotStupid at 8:06 PM on July 30, 2012 [3 favorites]


symbioid, perhaps you are remembering Einstein's desk?
posted by ddaavviidd at 8:29 PM on July 30, 2012


IKEA photoshoot
posted by blue_beetle at 8:34 PM on July 30, 2012


It is good to see more valuable contributions to deskology.
posted by idiopath at 8:54 PM on July 30, 2012 [1 favorite]


So, uncomfortable designer chairs + Apple products + lotsa white surfaces = "simple," not "rich without taste or sufficient ways to stay busy?" I get the same feeling of unease from these desks as I feel when I walk into someone's house and find that they own no books. Something important is missing.

Nthing the comments on color scheme. Seriously getting an ocular migraine from staring at all that hard harsh glaring white. Maybe being blind is supposed to help with creativity by stripping away the distractions that accompany sight?
posted by Graygorey at 8:54 PM on July 30, 2012 [3 favorites]


I, too, feel like no one gets any work done at those desks.
posted by jessamyn at 9:04 PM on July 30, 2012 [2 favorites]


I have on my desk:
  1. two glasses, one half-filled with ice from the water I just drank
  2. one empty beer bottle
  3. one empty can of iced tea
  4. one bag, Purina Beggin Strips (for the dog)
  5. two packages, modular power supply cables
  6. one black computer tower
  7. one wireless modem
  8. one cable modem
  9. one wireless mouse dongle
  10. one wireless mouse
  11. one keyboard
  12. one monitor
  13. three speakers (2.1)
  14. one bottle, Noodler's Bulletproof Black ink
  15. one godawful little plastic tower of drawers, filled with pens, pencils, and paperclips
  16. two books: Conceptual Mathematics and Programming Scala
  17. one stack of papers, covered in math from the above
  18. two unopened pieces of mail
  19. one dent, where I dropped a book
As far as I can tell, most of these people have:
  1. an Apple™ product
  2. pretension
I'm not sure what makes their desks more notable than mine.
posted by sonic meat machine at 9:06 PM on July 30, 2012 [12 favorites]


Those offices are too bright. Too much glare.
posted by surplus at 9:11 PM on July 30, 2012


If you prefer, here are some pictures of Francis Bacon's studio instead.
posted by Egg Shen at 9:21 PM on July 30, 2012 [2 favorites]


Here's an antidote: Samuel Delany's desk. Now that I can aspire to.
posted by feckless at 9:23 PM on July 30, 2012 [9 favorites]


I am a little inspired to clean my desk now, but I still use mail, envelopes, paper calendars, pens.

Maybe the next generation has overcome that.
posted by psycho-alchemy at 9:37 PM on July 30, 2012


I find that nothing harmonizes quite like wall-to-wall white surfaces, large windows with no blinds or curtains, and an illuminated computer screen. Sometimes I also like to stare directly into the sun or laser pointers. The penetrating brightness increases creativity, productivity, migraines, blindness, and brain damaged insanity.
posted by dgaicun at 9:48 PM on July 30, 2012 [7 favorites]


"...one book, "Swedish-made Penis Enlargers And Me: This Sort of Thing Is My Bag Baby", by sonic meat machine...".
posted by hincandenza at 9:56 PM on July 30, 2012 [1 favorite]


...are tables.
posted by OHenryPacey at 11:18 PM on July 30, 2012 [2 favorites]


I moved into a spacious apartment once, and as we walked through it before moving in, my wife and I were imagining where to place all the furniture, and how rooms would be used. We came to a small storage closet off the hallway and she joked that I could fit all my stuff there. Flash forward a month, and there I was, desk, books, 'puter and all me knick-knacks crammed in. In the end I really enjoyed having minimal space to work within, and ever since I've confined my working spaces to leave the smallest footprint possible.
posted by brappi at 11:57 PM on July 30, 2012


Simple Desks is for people who love these empty, empty uncluttered rooms. I would feel like I was drowning working in such a place. I have an extremely minimalist approach to life but I still generate massive numbers of post-it notes and index cards.
Do people find their brains work more sharply at a completely empty desk? Perhaps all the good ideas and things live inside the computers. There doesn't seem to be anywhere else to put them.

Why do all the desks face the walls?

The worst thing of all though is the inspirational art people have: see "Make Change" on the wall in this picture.

The whereiwrite link posted by feckless is useful: it shows some serious workspaces. Some of the characteristics are:
- Huge work space
- Everything within immediate reach
- Supreme comfort
- Evidence of a multitude of passions
posted by niccolo at 12:01 AM on July 31, 2012 [3 favorites]


I'd say the only work done at about 95% of these so-called desks would be ego polishing. My particular favorite is the distressed white sideboard-y thing filled with wicker baskets and no knee-space with a French steel garden chair and a rotary dial phone that appears to have had its plug cut. I know this style - I believe it's called I'd Dial My Chiropractor But My Phone Is A Paperweight

Also, full wank points for the one with the 50's typewriter on the floor. Oooh. My. You must be a writer.
posted by ninazer0 at 1:19 AM on July 31, 2012 [2 favorites]


I find far more useful ideas on reddit's r/battlestations. Scattered between the overwrought neon-lit gamer monsters are people with realistic computers and accessories, who have used small or awkward spaces cleverly.
posted by vanar sena at 1:40 AM on July 31, 2012 [3 favorites]


I love seeing home desks/home offices of all kinds, so I'm enjoying this, though I agree that many of these don't really seem like practical settings for most people who spend a lot of time working, or even playing, at their desks (so many uncomfortable chairs, for one! and yes... a lot of eye-searing superbright whiteness and smooth surfaces that would feel like sensory deprivation to me). I love the Guardian's Writers' Rooms series, and it definitely seems that very, very few writers go for the minimal aesthetic at all, and most seem to trend in the opposite direction.

But this makes me wonder what trends in other professions would be like, in terms of (seriously used) home work spaces. Would designers or architects tend to be significantly more minimal than writers, I wonder? Would there be obvious similarities in decor aesthetics or atmosphere among graphic artists, musicians, directors, journalists, lawyers, composers, engineers, etc.? I would very much love to see a site with lots and lots of home office/desk images grouped by occupation.
posted by taz at 2:36 AM on July 31, 2012


I started off liking the website, finding it interesting. But my rage started to build the more I saw. Isn't anyone on there creative enough to:
- Not have a Mac?
- Have a work surface that you could actually work on?
- A chair that would be comfortable to sit on for more than a few minutes?
- Have any dark colours?

I'd like to know what percentage are actual, usable work places. Having a huge iMac only a few inches away from your eyes, with barely any room for a keyboard, is not somewhere a real person could realistically work at.

The thing is, having spent the last few days just doing filing, I do need to have a re-think of my home office so this kind of website should be useful and inspiring. However, it has no real useful information as there are no indications as to where I should put all the essential stuff like cables, backup hard drives, printer, pen and paper.
posted by milkb0at at 3:04 AM on July 31, 2012


After 3 pages of those workspaces I have come to the conclusion that they remain so beautifully minimal because no one can sit in those chairs for more than 20 minutes at a time. My butt hurts just looking at those Kartell stools.

This!
posted by SAnderka at 3:25 AM on July 31, 2012


I find far more useful ideas on reddit's r/battlestations

This was beautiful.

Subreddit Rules:

I. No OS or platform wars - your preference is irrelevant


Words we can all live by.
posted by Egg Shen at 5:42 AM on July 31, 2012 [1 favorite]


Reading these comments I am sensing a lot of envy masked by bitterness. Don't worry, your choice of workspace is just as valid.
posted by ajh_ at 5:46 AM on July 31, 2012 [1 favorite]


Here's an antidote: Samuel Delany's desk. Now that I can aspire to.

Those are fantastic photos, thanks. Some of the spaces in the FPP are very pretty, but as noted very few of them look like places where serious work is done. The contrast with the writers' desks is really funny -- it's the difference between being a "writer" and being a writer.
posted by Forktine at 6:13 AM on July 31, 2012 [2 favorites]


Having just moved to a new office, and looking for ways to unfuck my habitat in the process, I was hoping to find some creative ideas on this site. Instead all I see are ergonomic torture chambers.

These desks are like kitchens designed by someone who's never sliced an onion.
posted by otherthings_ at 6:37 AM on July 31, 2012 [1 favorite]


Isn't anyone on there creative enough to:
- Not have a Mac?


Wait -- platform choice is now a matter of creativity? Jesus wept. Let it go. Gripe about the white walls and the poseur art and shit, fine. But "creative enough not to have a Mac" sounds like a personal grudge rather than a legitimate critique.
posted by Edison Carter at 6:51 AM on July 31, 2012 [1 favorite]


It was nothing to do with platform choice per se (especially as I'm writing this on a Macbook) and everything to do with the fact that the work stations are very similar: white walls, Apple computers, uncomfortable chairs etc. A truly random sampling of creative types will show all manner of work stations, such as the Delaney example.
posted by milkb0at at 7:06 AM on July 31, 2012


Fair enough.
posted by Edison Carter at 7:10 AM on July 31, 2012


To be fair, it's more an issue with the people who run Simple Desks choosing the same kind of desk and probably isn't representative of all the submissions they get, let alone desks in general.
posted by milkb0at at 7:27 AM on July 31, 2012 [1 favorite]


Absolutely. Every time i look at these I find myself thinking
"Nice.
Nice.
Nice.
That one's not so nice.
Who are they fooling?"
posted by Edison Carter at 7:30 AM on July 31, 2012


Like this one from an architect in Switzerland. Bullshit. This is NOT your workspace.
posted by Edison Carter at 7:32 AM on July 31, 2012 [4 favorites]


There's a trope in photography circles that when you win an award for a shot you got with your Canon or Nikon, you pose for the award portrait photo with a Leica rangefinder. Leicas are the cameras that everyone lusts after, that everyone wants to be seen holding, and no one actually shoots with. These desks all look to me like they just need the little red circle badge and they'll be set.
posted by echo target at 8:06 AM on July 31, 2012 [3 favorites]


Thank you for the linkdrop to the battlestations subreddit. That looks like a subreddit I can thoroughly enjoy.
posted by RolandOfEld at 8:28 AM on July 31, 2012


simple sterile desks
FTFY
posted by BlueHorse at 2:25 PM on July 31, 2012


I work as an architectural designer and it can be a very weird world of aspirational minimalism and a profession still dominated by paper and special pens and computers and large format printers and scanners and the need to keep lots of books for reference and inspiration and product samples and technical information and it can be utterly overwhelming.

I share my home office with my toddler -- it's not a big room. I've had to get creative with the wall space and how I store and what I keep (as little as possible). When I have a complicated project where I have to reference large drawings, I put a piece of plywood over my daughter's crib and use it as a standing workspace. (She's not in it at the time.) I keep thinking I want to photograph the space and submit it to apartmenttherapy because I'm pretty proud of how I pulled it off but I think I'd have to remove half the stuff just to make it look minimal enough for their standards and I just don't have the time.

So, I look at this stuff and I think, how nice for you.
posted by amanda at 4:42 PM on July 31, 2012


Oh, here's something on the site that we did, too. We came across an awesome hardwood (mahogany, maybe? something massive, anyway) counter that was removed from an old bank and left on the street. It was exactly the right width to work in the small outside utility room attached to our apartment where my husband was setting up his little work area. He cut down the length and made an "L" shaped desktop like this, and it's just perfect.

That thing weighed a ton, and I think it took us an hour to carry it 8 blocks. I'd snap a pic, but husband's space is the opposite of minimal. It's maximal. It's "Hoarders: Electronics, Circuit boards, Cables, and Serious, Serious Flotsam & Jetsam Edition." (If only we another room to store all that stuff it would look supercool though, because he has vintage oscillators and all sorts of groovy stuffs that he's restored to working and actually uses.)
posted by taz at 1:39 AM on August 1, 2012


Like this one from an architect in Switzerland. Bullshit. This is NOT your workspace. -- there isn't even a power outlet.
posted by crunchland at 2:36 AM on August 2, 2012


I can definitively say that the type of sick mind who does get work done at a desk like this exists, and I live with him.

That is an unstaged photo right there of the average state of my husband's desk. It's an old photo, but his desk ALWAYS looks like that. And he works at it CONSTANTLY. Science has no idea what is up with him.
posted by sonika at 6:33 AM on August 4, 2012 [1 favorite]


The worst thing of all though is the inspirational art people have: see "Make Change" on the wall in this picture.

I quite like that.

However, I once knew someone who had one of those black bordered inspirational posters up in his house. At least three people I know have said he is one of the creepiest people they've ever met, and I wonder if it was the effect of the poster.
posted by mippy at 6:23 AM on August 6, 2012


« Older By late May, more than ten million copies of E.L. ...  |  The Castaway's Guide To Making... Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments