The right workspace can transform your creative life. Dwell puts six desks to the test.
Now that you’re expected to work from almost anywhere—your sofa, an airplane, a rickshaw in Kathmandu—and your “desktop” fits in the palm of your hand, are actual desks still necessary? We thought it over, called in six of our favorites, and came away answering, emphatically, yes!
Desks are more than places to park your unopened bills or pound away at your laptop; they are receptacles for your creative dreams, holding the promise of inspiration and focused attention every time you pull up a chair. (And you can’t really say that about the kitchen table.)
Designed by: Eric Pfeiffer
Made by: Offi & Company
Pros: The 15-inch trundle drawer slides forward to nearly double your workspace. When you’re done working, a gentle shove makes your mess disappear. There’s also a small compartment in the back for stashing cords. It’s made in the USA—to our surprise, the only domestically produced desk in our roundup (even the Herman Miller piece sported a Made in China sticker).
Cons: We’re not opposed to exposed hardware in principle, but we do wish the inelegant metal drawer gliders were hidden with wooden end caps. Another sticking point: The drawer jams unless you push from the center.
Made by: Bluelounge
Pros: This is the most tech-friendly of the bunch. The writing surface slides forward to reveal a hidden compartment that stows power strips, chargers, and USB hubs, which allows just a single cord to plug into the wall and individual cables to snake through the desktop slot. No more tangles!
Cons: The cavernous interior is great for cords and cables, but with no dividers and rather awkward access from the top, it’s useless for office supplies—a veritable Davy Jones’s locker for pens. We wish it had drawers.
Designed by: Pierre Paulin
Made by: Ligne Roset
Pros: The combination of black lacquered steel, walnut veneer, and black laminate (or, for a price bump, Corian) lends this reissue of a 1950s classic a luxurious feel, as do the self-closing drawer gliders. It’s almost too chic for a home office—unless you live on the set of Mad Men.
Cons: When closed, the double-decker drawers appear to be two different sizes, but it’s a front: Upon opening, they’re revealed to be equally puny, just over two inches deep. In the digital age, have roomy drawers gone the way of the eight-track?
Made by: Blu Dot
Pros: It’s compact and curvy, and it lives up to its name with a small drawer for pens and supplies. Bonus: The drawer’s interior is painted fire-engine red, a happy surprise. One could say the desk is secretly wearing sassy underwear.
Cons: We are fans of flat-packing—it’s eco-friendly and cost-effective—but we couldn’t help groaning at this 48-item kit of parts. The bright side of DIY assembly: You can mount the drawer on either side, a boon for lefties.
Made by: Herman Miller
Pros: The Enchord packs a double whammy—it’s both the biggest and most flexible desk we reviewed. There’s no defined front or back, so it can float in the middle of a room, with people working on both sides. The lower surface hides wires and papers and juts out an additional 14 inches: the ideal place to prop a printer or break for snacks.
Cons: Its strength is also its weakness: You need a lot of square footage to fit this bad boy into your life. And if you push it against a wall you lose half your storage since there’s a center divider running through the interior.
Made by: West Elm
Pros: The compact Parsons is ideal for a small apartment: Its shallow depth hugs the wall, and since it doesn’t look overbearingly desk-ish it can double as a console table or even a bar. If you need the piece further scaled down, there’s also a mini version that’s 18 inches shorter.
Cons: Upon close inspection, it appears West Elm may have cut a few too many corners in making this piece affordable: Our model had crooked drawer fronts, bumpy lacquer, sticky sliding mechanisms, and splinters on the bottom drawer lip. Still, $299 is a pretty sweet deal.