There's every chance you are either at your desk reading this blog, or are en route to your desk while reading it. And, despite the fact that hot-desking is making something of a comeback, our desk is our space. Our tiny corner of the workspace where we the magic, occasionally, happens.
Early in May a major exhibition of the life and work of Enid Blyton opened in Newcastle including the writing desk at which she wrote her 700-plus books at an unbelievable pace of 6,000 words per day. There's something quite fascinating about seeing the desk at that famous writers created their works. It was while sat in that chair, while resting an arm on that table, that novels were nurtured that would go on to enchant generations upon generations.
The desk of the cherished author is given some mystique, as though this inanimate object bestowed its occupier with the ability to write a bestseller. We couldn't help but be inspired by this classic example to take a look at some other famous spaces, in which amazing creativity has drawn from, and added to, the artist's environment.
As the shortlist for the James Tait Black prizes (the UK's oldest literary awards) are announced, From Blyton's sparse set-up to desks cluttered with emotional paraphernalia, here's a look at some other famous writers' spaces.
Roald Dahl famously used a shed as his thinking space. He had a well-worn chair with a board placed across the arms on which he could rest, and everything else he needed was placed just in reach. On his right hand side was a table bearing odd bits including a part of his own hip bone that had been removed and a ball of silver paper made from chocolate bar wrappers. His walls were covered with letters from schools and family photos. The curtains remained closed and no-one ever entered but him.
For some creative minds, clutter is good; organised mess is a very personal ordeal. In the workplace, it's good to keep it useful, but don't be afraid to let the useful stuff accumulate.
On the subject of sheds, George Bernard Shaw one-upped Dahl by making his shed rotate. Yes, that's right. A shed that can do a perfect 360 degrees. He built it himself and the reasoning behind it was so he could constantly be in the sunshine while he worked.
For someone who wrote a novel about man's capacity to destroy himself with the technology he creates, it perhaps isn't surprising that Ballard wrote everything by hand. He worked at the same desk for almost 50 years. On his desk were several photographs of family members, and beside it was a huge copy of The Violation by Paul Delvaux. A modest, minimalist desk next to a surrealist painting: how apt for Ballard.
The study was Darwin's sanctuary; it was where he retreated from the outside world to contemplate life. His desk was large, polished mahogany - the ideal for a Victorian gentleman. Darwin would sit in a high-backed leather chair with a board across his knees. Papers and notes were set around the desk along with family portraits. It was from the comfort of his desk in Down House that his theory of natural selection was set out, going on to become a worldwide phenomenon.
A desk can become key to an individual's work and be part of that individual; its characteristics may be the polar opposite to what they produce, but will complement it.
We'd love to help you make your workspace a reflection of you. Feel free to carry on this discussion on Twitter by following @AreaSq or find us searching #OfficeDesign.
- by Guenaelle Watson
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