People and their desks - a short film

How do creative people set up their desks? Aaron Trinder visited several offices to find out. Some are messy, some are fastidious. Alfred Stadler, director of Vitra home, likes to keep miniature designer chairs on his desk. I like Kurt Andersen's desk. He tears out small newspaper articles and keeps them under a paperweight. I wish this video had been longer.

Desk - Music and Sound Design (Via Doobybrain)


  1. Thanks to Massimo Vignelli for idealizing the relationship between person and desk.

    As if the damage he did in “Helvetica” wasn’t enough.

  2. My desk is loaded with magnets and steel bearings.. I need stuff to fidget with when I’m thinking, and playing with magnetic fields is a fidgeting dream. In theory, they also prevent repetitive stress problems by giving my hands a break away from the keyboard.

    Since I work in IT, it also keeps people from dropping crap on my desk. They see a giant magnet and don’t want their hard drives anywhere near it!

  3. I remember the quote “a clean desk is the sign of a sick mind”.

    Actually I have a (boring) story. I used to work in a lab in Italy where we had to go to a specific office to get restaurant tickets when we were out. We could only go one specific day of the week for about 2 hours, so there was always a line. We would be admitted into a totally empty room, with only a desk in the middle and a guy behind in sitting on a chair. The desk had nothing on its surface. We’d say how many tickets we wanted and hand over the money. The guy would get the keys in his pocket, open a drawer, count the number of tickets, put the money in, lock the drawer, put the keys back in his pocket, hand over the tickets and we would be off. All the while he would wipe his hand over the desk to clean off imaginary dust. Then the next customer would walk in. Just thinking about what he was doing the rest of the week used to drive me insane, with my 3 desks piled half a mile high in printouts, computers, dismantled boards, notes….

  4. I love the windows in Vignelli’s office. I am like Soren Kjaer in that my desk working in a traditional office is neat, but more cluttered at home. I do have prints of paintings and things on my cube walls when in a traditional office though and a couple of knickknacks, but keep work filed away with a simple to-do list tacked on my wall.

  5. OMG. I need those models of classic chairs at 4:54. It’s like that guy is The Friendly Giant with an Eames fetish. Do you think those little chairs would be the right size for my Charlie’s Angels Barbie dolls?

  6. I keep a messy desk both at work and home. I also keep a picture of Al Gore’s and Einstein’s desk pinned above my desk at work. A messy desk is a sign of a creative mind.

  7. I remember some study where they proved that a reasonably messy desk was the best possible way to organise your active data. It’s a set of inter-related stacks where useful things bubble up to the top. Filing cabinets are “dead” storage where you put things that only accountants and lawyers will ever look at again. The only restriction was that you should go through the stacks and remove anything not still in play, usually the bottom few layers, every six months.

    This avoids things like the scenario we once had when moving offices. The office genius’s desk and surrounding area were stacked with piles of printouts. After removing them we discovered: A – the original colour of the paint on the walls, and B – that those stacks of paper had been the only thing holding up a couple of adjacent bookshelves.

  8. The Vitra director has miniature designer chairs on his desk because his company sells them (at several hundred dollars a pop).

  9. I found this video very interesting. My desk area has all kinds of “needed” items on it. Once they are put in the file cabinet, I can’t find them.

    I was amused by the story about the desk with clutter that held up bookshelves. I hope no one was injred when the bookshelves fell.

  10. I really loved this post and I could really relate to what it was saying. I’ve really made it a point to have something that makes my area of creativity mine. It is a bit messy but for me that works.

  11. I love this video and post! How do we create our world is a favored topic. I like to give a clearing out and going through my main desk weekly…what have I forgotten? What needs to go back on the top of the pile? What and where do I find inspirations? What pics and things are symbols and reminders for me? What is important to help me create? I hear and see things like this and it acts as a wonderful springboard for inspirations. thanks!

Comments are closed.