Just as our offices today look nothing like they did 50 years ago, our desktops have undergone transformations of their own. We’re crammed into less space, computers have taken the place of typewriters, and even the phrase “desktop” itself means something different. But when photographer Anton Rodriguez and editor Jonathan Openshaw investigated the desks of top creatives in London, they were surprised at how some things about desks have remained unchanged.
For the photography installation DeskTop, on view at Walter Knoll’s showroom in London until November 30, Openshaw and Rodriguez visited the workspaces of architects, editors, designers, and curators. What they discovered is personal desks are still an important part of work culture–and people like to populate them with meaningful objects and tools that help them get their work done.
“As our lives become increasingly digital–spending upwards of ten hours a day glued to some screen or other–our attachment to the physical isn’t eroding,” Openshaw tells Co.Design in an email. “At the end of the day, humans are physical animals–we’re tactile, we need to relate to each other. We cannot exist in VR enhanced digital bubbles. Digital tools are wonderful things and technology advances our potential and output massively, but I think there will always be a place for wood, paper, and ink in how we work through ideas and make imaginative leaps.”
For example Sir Nicholas Grimshaw, an architect, and Yana Peel, CEO of the Serpentine Galleries, both use their desks for frequent meetings. They still found ways to display books and things that were important to them. In Grimshaw’s case, an architectural model and a scale model of an Eames chair. Peel has a vase of fresh flowers. Tony Chambers, editor of Wallpaper, populates his desk with pens, books, a stationery organizer, and magnifying glass–a symbol of the detail-oriented work he does.
“The exhibition feels a bit like playing detective as each image is anchored with the back of an empty chair in the center, so hopefully the viewer is encouraged to imagine the person who’s just stepped out of the frame and think about what this space says about them,” Openshaw says.
So if you want to think more like a creative, do as they do and surround yourself with the things you love. See the exhibition’s images in the slideshow above.