Trends

February 24, 2016 • Sam Ujvary
The Well-Dressed Desk

A range of polished, professional accessories create workspaces with personality

What’s the most stylish spot in the house? It can be the home office, seen dressed here with planners and organizational tools from Emily Ley.
What’s the most stylish spot in the house? It can be the home office, seen dressed here with planners and organizational tools from Emily Ley.

It wasn’t too long ago that a home office was nothing more than a desk, chair and computer, plus a few function-driven accessories, but times have definitely changed. According to a study by the Telework Research Network, one in four American households — close to 30 million people — now work out of a home office at least once a week, and that number is expected to increase by 63 percent in the next five years.

These people are no longer satisfied with ordinary — they want their offices to be as special as the rest of the house. Whether they are self-employed, entrepreneurs, telecommuters or even cubicle denizens, people spend a great deal of time working and while doing so, they want these spaces to look professional and polished.

Emily Ley, founder and creative director of Emily Ley, observed that with this cultural shift. The old “How do I spice up my cubicle?” debate has transitioned into “How do I turn my home area into an inspiring, productive functional workspace?”

“The well-dressed desk is the new corner office with a view. Productivity is a priority and looking the part has taken a back seat to creating a space to mirror my personality,” she explained. “Here on our team, we’re busy mamas, wives, college students and business ladies. We get it. We know life is fast-paced and busy. Having the tools to make the good stuff (and the necessary) happen is essential.”

That’s why Ley designs solution-based products to bring joy and simplicity into the lives of busy women. A social media favorite, the Simplified Planner is a clean, simple agenda designed to help women make what matters happen. “Physical clutter is mental clutter. So having a fresh, beautiful space in which to create your art, work your spreadsheets or write your reports is essential,” she revealed. “We do better work when we’re surrounded by things that speak to our personal style and philosophies.”

Custom selection play into both the desk and personalization trends with ease. From Left to Right: Wms & Co., Felix Doolittle, Oree Artisans, Prentiss Douthit for The Boatman Group.
Custom selection play into both the desk and personalization trends with ease. From left to right: Wms & Co., Felix Doolittle, Oree Artisans, and Prentiss Douthit for The Boatman Group.

Getting fancy

Rosanna Kvernmo, co-owner of Iron Curtain Press, opined that desk sets and stationery wonderfully brightens up a work environment. “One of the primary benefits of working from home is the flexibility, and one facet of this flexibility is the ability to create a space that fits each person’s unique style. Polished desk accessories and desk collections are a way to express your personality and style in a space that you come to each day to work.”

Kvernmo recalled the desire for these products unfolded rather naturally over the last five years. “We identified the need for our own desk spaces here in our studio and set out to create pieces we love. Office supplies felt like a very natural progression from our greeting cards.”

To that end, the company recently released a line of fancy notebooks, note pads and brass push pins. “We love office supplies and cute but functional desk spaces. Our goal was to create everyday objects that we actually want to use,” Kvernmo emphasized. “Work is work no matter how you slice it. Creating an environment you actually want to spend time in during the day makes working that much more appealing. If the items used for decoration are functional as well? Even better.”

Brass tactics

Chelsea Shukov, co-founder of Sugar Paper, has also noticed the trend of people investing in decorative items for the desk really taking off in recent years. “More and more people are choosing items like this and discovering that objects you are using every day can have more personality than what you find at Staples, and that it’s OK to play a little bit in that space,” she underlined. “Life is becoming more edited by design and people are having an option to choose what they surround themselves with on their desks — and finding these desk accessories are becoming functional expressions of themselves.”

That’s why in May, Sugar Paper left its stationery comfort zone and started manufacturing and designing brass accessories for the desk. “This was a new medium for us; working with brass is something that we had never done,” Shukov pointed out. “But in following this trend, we decided to create heirloom items to go on the desk, instead of throw-away items, so you can have them on your desk for a number of years and potentially hand them down to your children.”

The collection includes a ruler, signature pen, stamp holder and letter opener, which Shukov described as not only looking really cute sitting on your desk, but also very functional. “It goes back to elevating the every day. Work is a four-letter word for a reason. If you sit down to pay bills or you work on your calendar, this collection adds a bit of elegance to an otherwise necessary beast.”

A strong assortment of neutral selections will blend with customers’ existing home décor as they infuse it with modern chic. From left to right: Colleen Attara, Mollaspace, Sloane Stationery, Iron Curtain Press, and Beve.
A strong assortment of neutral selections will blend with customers’ existing home décor as they infuse it with modern chic. From left to right: Colleen Attara, Mollaspace, Sloane Stationery, Iron Curtain Press, and Beve.

Looking ahead

Moving forward, Kvernmo noted that the company will produce a wider range of desk accessories, creating objects that other people will enjoy using every day just as much as those in the Iron Curtain Press office.

While Ley doesn’t want to give away any product secrets as to what’s to come, she does hint that her next collection will feature plenty of must-haves for the well-dressed desk, featuring gold and lots of it.

As for Sugar Paper, Shukov revealed the company is following feedback from its customers and adding new colors for its pen (right now it’s only available in white) and will incorporate other items in the collection.

“Our customer base has told us that they really like these products, but we’ve also been told that there are pieces missing,” she finished. “They are looking for a business card holder and other small additions to round out the collection, and we’ll be working on those and other things to better support the desk and have fun with it.”

 



  • Love Sugar Paper’s idea, “heirloom items to go on the desk.” I’m a big fan of Emily Ley’s products. Great article!


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