Designer Minnie Kemp on how to find the perfect desk for your home office and unlock your creative potential
Shape, function and style - knowing Minnie Kemp's secrets to the perfect desk will help you create the most creative home office
It’s important in life to have a secret weapon, something that never fails. Mine is an emerald green Italian trouser suit that I happened upon with a stonking 80% discount at the Matches outlet store in east London. When I wear this suit - a rare jewel with running stitch details that fits like a glove - I feel invincible. From Saddlers Wells to Park Road Pools, from Buckingham Palace to Hopper Coffee House, things just seem to go my way no matter the occasion (so long as I’m suited up).
This strange phenomenon has been somewhat of a light bulb moment for me - can this method transcend the fashion world and improve our working lives, too? The answer is yes, and I can think of no product more empowering than the perfect desk to turn your home office into a positive place where procrastination never - or at least - rarely happens.
Look for curves...and storage
But just like the perfect outfit, you need to test out a few of the best desks to find the perfect fit. My search begins with the ‘Kidney Desk’ by London’s Fred Rigby Studio, which I discovered at an exhibition curated by the design duo Ruby Kean & Lisa Jones - Atelier LK.
This naturally ebonised desk looks like it's floating from certain angles, and its sweeping, asymmetrical form creates a cosy and organic cove for your seat (tip: the studio’s ‘Pebble’ chair fits perfectly, a design complete with a solid oak carved back, turned oiled oak legs, and a seat upholstered in a Dedar boucle weave).
Taking a seat behind the smoothed curved edge, I thought that if this desk were mine I would be an unstoppable machine producing the finest work in all the land - until I noticed that this product lacked storage, with no way to hide bits and bobs behind a façade. Yes, this missing feature is why my Michelangelo moment hasn’t yet arisen - back to the drawing board!
In fact, I think this Nicole desk from Lulu and Georgia, above, solves the problem - rounded edges and drawers. The dream.
Be inspired by your school days
At school, we used to have little wooden desks with lift-up lids (the perfect spot to paste posters of Justin Timberlake). Inspired by desks from childhood, I’m drawn next to Chelsea Textiles’ ‘Gustavian’ Bureau in a grey finish, a versatile piece that tucks into a corner. When inspiration strikes, a small desk can be pulled down and used as a worktop, and the bureau even has three drawers with plenty of room for all sorts of knick knacks.
I would style this with an upholstered Shop Kit Kemp ‘Handle Chair’ placed to the side when the desk is closed). It’s an all around great piece, but the thing is, I was never a great student, and I can’t help but wonder: do I really want to be reminded of those dreary school days when I was told off every five minutes? No way.
So what can you take from the school desk vibe and apply to adult life? I think wood can be very calming, and the compact nature of the classroom-style is something that feels attractive, too. This Treviso desk by L. Ercolani from 2Modern, above, takes the best of our childhoods and repackages for today.
Go bespoke - or antique - to feel truly unique
But if something altogether different is what you are looking for in your own secret-weapon-desk, take a look at The Carpenters Workshop Gallery. From functional art to collectable design by rising and established designers, you can find some wonderful bespoke pieces here that you won’t see anywhere else - items you will keep for life.
For starters, the DC 1977 desk by Vincenzo De Cotiis, a recycled fiberglass, silvered brass desk that’s absolutely stunning. Of course, a statement item like this doesn’t come cheap, but investing in your secret weapon is certainly money well spent. Just make sure you don’t buy straight from the internet – if possible, go to the gallery or showroom and spend time with the product – let it seduce you and really get a feel for how it makes you feel.
And 1st Dibs has the most wonderful selection of desks - styles to dream about being wonderful while sitting at.
Oh, and I will let you in on another little secret I learnt from one of my favourite books, A Far Cry from Kensington by Muriel Spark: ‘If you want to concentrate deeply on some problem, and especially some piece of writing or paper-work, you should acquire a cat.’
Minnie Kemp is an interior designer, part of the team of design experts at the Firmdale Hotel Group. She has worked on the interiors of international hotels such as The Whitby Hotel and the Crosby Street Hotel in New York, and Ham Yard and Charlotte Street Hotel in London. She has also been involved in designing various residential projects in both the Unite States of America and the United Kingdom. She is the interiors columnist for Livingetc, reporting on trends and offering advice on home design and decor, and she was a judge on the first Livingetc Style Awards in 2021.
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