Designing The Ideal Workspace

PHOTO BY NICK KEPPOL

PHOTO BY NICK KEPPOL

I spend more time at my desk than I do anywhere else (it’s a close tie with sleeping in bed). While a lot of my graphic design peers prefer working in coffeehouses, I’ve always found that having a solid battlestation helps me get higher quality work done faster. I love admiring the toolsets and workspaces of famous creatives, online and in books like LifeHacker’s How I Work, The Setup’s collection of interviews and The Writer’s Desk photo-book. Desks will reflect the personality of their users. Studying a creative’s workspace is much like peering into a sketchbook, in that it gives you a glimpse into how their brain operates.

Some favorites

Desk of Chip Kidd, graphic designer. Look at all those book covers!

Desk of Chip Kidd, graphic designer. Look at all those book covers!

Desk of Adam Salesman, creator of Canabalt and lots of other great games.

Desk of Adam Salesman, creator of Canabalt and lots of other great games.

The workspace of Yoshitomo Nara, a favorite painter of mine.

The workspace of Yoshitomo Nara, a favorite painter of mine.

Desk of Jessica Walsh, graphic designer. Gotta love that wood!

Desk of Jessica Walsh, graphic designer. Gotta love that wood!

Desk of Roald Dahl, children's book author. I read that he kept everything he needed within arm's reach so that he wouldn't have to stop working.

Desk of Roald Dahl, children's book author. I read that he kept everything he needed within arm's reach so that he wouldn't have to stop working.

Desk of Milton Glaser, graphic designer. I love all the items on the wall.

Desk of Milton Glaser, graphic designer. I love all the items on the wall.

Making the move into a new office in a new city gave me the opportunity to consider my old desk-making habits while also giving me the chance to design my workspace from the ground up.

My Old Desk

Pros

  • My books and drawing tools were well within reach.
  • Art/Design books nearby for instant inspiration.
  • The chicken bookends are pretty cool.
  • The desk was old and beat up, so I wouldn’t have to worry about banging it up.

Cons

  • The markerboard, which housed all my to-do lists, was out of reach.
  • It was extremely cramped. Usually, my tablet would have to sit over the side and my mouse didn’t have enough room to move around. If I wanted to sketch in my notebook I would have to clear off my laptop and tablet or go somewhere else. 
  • The sun came through the window behind me, so my hand would cast a shadow on whatever I was drawing.
  • For some of the work I was doing, I needed more screen real estate.
  • I am of the minority of tablet-users that draw with their tablets positioned directly in front of them (most draw with the tablet positioned to the right). Using a laptop makes this awkward because the keyboard is constantly in the way.
  • The desk felt like it would fall apart any minute.

My New Desk

Pros

  • Plenty of room for my tablet and mouse.
  • The keyboard off to the left is available for hotkeys without getting in the way.
  • The office has a wonderful skylight that removes all of my shadow-casting worries.
  • Desktop computer with far more screen real estate.
  • Designated space for analog work (sketching, thumbnailing, launching rubber bands at co-workers).

Cons

  • The lack of chicken bookends will make me fall apart at any minute.

My Futuristic-Completely-Impracticable-Dream Desk

Pros

  • The surface is a zen garden.
  • The screen is just way too big (and maybe 3D?)
  • Mood Board Hologram that I can move à la Minority Report.
  • Infinite art supplies stuck in the sand. Elves refill ink cartridges and sharpen pencils in the night.
  • Robot that helps me keep organized.

Cons

  • Probably impossible (without robot overlords?)
  • Elves constantly demanding cookies

Have you ever tried to redesign your desk, or are there any great desks you admire? Leave a comment or message me, @austin_breed.