written by:
February 22, 2010

In this slideshow we return to a simpler time, when a modern desk could remain unencumbered by snarls of cords, food-flecked keyboards or errant mouse pads. From pieces by Nakashima to Breuer, we present a mid-century view of an age-old problem: how to maintain a winsome work space.

george nelson desk r 20th century

Leather-and-Metal Desk

Created by George Nelson for Herman Miller around 1952, this desk features a hidden drawer with a three-tiered shelving system on one side and a perforated metal basket on the other. Twin sliding panels obscure more shelving space above the leather-topped desk surface.

florence knoll desk metro retro furniture

Maple Desk

Florence Knoll designed this three-drawer piece in 1949—it was one of her earlier mass-produced creations. It features a single pedestal and tapering legs. It has been restored, and it's in excellent condition.

lawson fenning desk dutch

Dutch Desk

Designed in the 1950s, this piece features unrestored distressed pencil-case steel legs and a laminate top in excellent condition. The drawer is oak, as is the edging around the laminate top. The designer is unknown.

marcel breuer r 20th century desk

Student's Dormitory Desk

Marcel Breuer designed this maple desk in 1938 for the dormitory at Rhoads Hall, Bryn Mawr College.

george nakashima desk lost city arts

Nakashima Single Pedestal Desk

This solid walnut piece features a stout pedestal with three drawers with inset handles; Nakashima designed it to be positioned on either the left or the right, depending on the user's need. The top is composed of three boards, with the center piece carrying a very dynamic grain. The floating end is supported by a pair of simple spindle legs. The desk was recently restored by Mira Nakashima and is in excellent condition.

demisch danant pierre guariche desk

Guariche Formica / Wood Desk

Guariche designed this piece, made of palissander, white formica and steel, in 1962. It features a formica-lined open front area, with two drawers on the reverse side, and a simple steel x-shaped base.

kai kristiansen baxter liebchen desk

Kristiansen Teak Desk

A sleek and stunning teak piece, designed by Kai Kristiansen  in the 1960s. The floating design features three drawers with full-width tab pulls, a filing cabinet, brass keyholes, and 2 additional lockable cabinets in the front for extra storage.

jens quistgaard desk ms antiques

Quistgaard Flip-Top Teak Desk

Quistgaard created this 1967 teak piece, which has a rectangular top with a hinged flip-top superstructure and is fitted with drawers and pigeonholes above a four-drawer frieze. It was manufactured by Lovig, and bears the maker's stencil on the underside.

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