Was it Freud who divided personality types into two camps: those who love a messy desk and those who crave perfect order on theirs?
(The answer is no – but he should have!)
Equally apocryphal is the attribution of the following quote to Albert Einstein:
If a cluttered desk is a sign of a cluttered mind, of what, then, is an empty desk a sign?
Einstein may not have actually said but it’s highly likely that he thought it: take a look at how he had carefully put his desk affairs in order on his death.
Whether you like clutter and distractions or you like order and organisation, we’ve got some essential accessories to stamp your personality on your desk.
Because, in reality, there are two types of people indeed: those who have a boring, functional desk and those who show their desks some love with a splash of colour and plenty of personality.
One of my great goals when I first started taking photographs is that people might want one for over their desk.
Patti Smith (rock goddess, photographer and poet)
Struggling with where to put things on your desk?
Here’s how to get organised without ending up with just another faceless desk that would look at home in the dullest of offices.
We love mustard. These colourful wire storage baskets and retro-style Shorty lockers are just the thing for using under, on or next to your desk.
They make sure everything is at hand but not under foot, as it were.
The aptly named Nomess created a design classic with the useful, but far from utilitarian, Momabox. Get yourself a few to adorn the desk and, rest assured, that they also adorn the permanent collection of New York’s MOMA.
If you prefer the reassuring scent of wood to the hyper-modern hipness of perspex, then don’t worry. The geometric designs on this organiser ensure you maintain clean lines and a clean desk.
Those lovely people at Penco and Hightide make it so simple to store paints, glues, pens, pencils, crayons with these sturdy storage solutions, compact caddies and ultra-flexible roll-up pencil cases.
French author Honoré de Balzac sat at his desk dressed in a monk's robe, and he always had to have a rotten apple on his desk. The smell of the apple inspired him.
Iconic British lighting designers Anglepoise have been providing carefully diffused pools of light on desks for more than 80 years. These elegant lamps are available in a wide-range of colours to complement your desk design.
George Washington had a copy of Don Quixote on his desk when signing the U.S. Constitution to remind him of the importance of being idealistic and quixotic.
For those who need music to get creative, these beautifully designed Bluetooth speakers are just the ticket. Compact enough for your desk, but with enough personality to make a very loud style statement.
When I'm the happiest, my desk is not neat. It has lots of pens and the books I love. It gets messy when I'm in the flow.
Interior designer and lifestyle philosopher
Ola’s new collection of designer notebooks are perfect for storing flashes of inspiration in. The designs focus on the notion of the keepsake in place of the throwaway, drawing inspiration from the history of patchwork.
These exquisite cork notebooks from Nomess are enough to inspire anyone to write or draw something beautiful as they sit at their desk. The stunning cork cover is wonderfully tactile to hold. Between the covers the paper is heavy enough for sketching and the books are available in a choice of four colours and two sizes.
I always have Moleskine notebooks on my desk. I am a big journaler. Every day I write down where I went, who I spoke to and what it was all about. Richard Branson told me to do that.
Alexa Von Tobel
Harvard drop-out and owner of a $350 million company
A very important part of my workday are the two Nunzillas on my windowsill. They keep me constant company. They're little windup toys, and when they move across the desk, they spark from the mouth. I think of them as my editors. They sort of remind you that the world can be a silly place.
Illustrator and artist
However you keep your desk – cluttered with personal objects and talismans or rigidly organised – make sure you make it your own.
We sit at our desks for about 70% of the working day so having a space that feels like your own is essential for inspiration (and sanity).
Let’s hope we can all feel like self-made man and advertising exec Jerry Della Femina. He famously commented that:
‘I want to die at my desk.’
For now, though, let’s start to live a little at ours!