11:13am

Wed July 30, 2014
The Protojournalist

Desk Desk Evolution

Originally published on Tue August 26, 2014 10:55 am

With the disappearance of the desktop computer and the downfall of the desk phone, could we be seeing the demise of the office desk?

"We still need a place on which to set all that digital stuff," says Henry Petroski, a civil engineering professor at Duke University and author of numerous design books, including The House with Sixteen Handmade Doors: A Tale of Architectural Choice and Craftsmanship.

Henry says his iPad is too heavy to hold comfortably. "And I don't have a large enough lap for all the other devices." So for Henry, an office desk is an extension of his lap. For others, it's a repository for inboxes and outboxes and books and paper piles and a smattering of old business cards grown dusty and dogeared from neglect.

And now the Great American Desk — trying to be all things to all people — is going through an identity crisis. And a multifaceted metamorphosis.

Recent desk developments include:

* The Superdesk — a sweeping platform that flows through the Barbarian Group office in New York.

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* The Kinetic Desk — from Stir, "senses your presence" and encourages you to sit and stand throughout the day.

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* The Pull-Up Bar Desk — just one of the unofficial innovations at the Brooklyn Boulders Active Collaborative Workspace in Somerville, Mass.

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Did this new Age of Deskovery begin, perhaps, with predictions of a "paperless office" in the 1990s? "The paperless office was said to arrive with the desktop computer," Henry Petroski says. "I am still waiting ..."


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