Chained To Your Desk? A Brief History

We think desks should be portable…again…


The phrase ‘chained to your desk’ has become so cliche that it’s easy to forget that for hundreds of years, the desk was a relatively portable piece of furniture. We say “easy to forget”, like that might be common knowledge, but as desk lovers, we were of course well aware. Yes.

Medieval desks, as you probably know, were far more cumbersome, as they had a lot of weight to support – rather than the user, the thing you’d find chained to them would more likely be a book.

Before the invention of modern printing techniques, your average Bible would have been a fairly hefty volume and without an industrial Xerox around, copying these texts was left to the monks. The high table with the sloping top was ideal for this painstaking work and the slots and hooks underneath were ideal for storing bookmarks and writing implements.

renaissancedeskWith the Renaissance and the advent of more precise woodworking techniques, the book and in turn, the desk, had become something altogether slimmer and lighter. Desks of the period can be distinguished from other types of furniture by the presence of a drawer featuring three partitions, for the ink pot, blotter and powder tray.

As the Industrial Revolution rolled in, a huge increase in paperwork led to widespread use of pigeonholes and filing cabinets, reducing the need for a lot of paper to be stored in the desk, so while some niche manufacturers (like the famous Wooton) were producing ill-conceived, elaborate desks, more functional low-quality desks were being mass-produced for office workers.

By the time the typewriter came into common use, office rents were rising and space was at a premium. Typewriter desks were steel, on wheels and… teal. Some were teal. They also had flaps, so they could be condensed, extended and moved around to best make use of the space available.

So how did we get from there to our clunky, modern desks? Well thanks to the relative bulk of early computers and the poor quality of the CRT monitors, our desks had to be large, heavy and strong enough to support both the computer and the huge pile of A4 required to print out all the documents that would destroy your eyes if you tried to read them all on the screen. Office rates weren’t getting any lower either, so those awful cubicles were introduced to give us somewhere other than the desk to stick all the post-its. The rise in popularity of shared office spaces means it’s not uncommon to share a long desk with co-workers.

But the desk can be portable again. Thanks to the rise of standing desks, we have a new way to make the most of our office space. Here at aibox we’ve created an ultra-portable cardboard standing desk from strong, rigid, 3-ply corrugated virgin card. Thanks to its ingenious design, it can be simply folded up and carried off – it has its own handle – so it’s truly portable.

Break your chains and buy a portable desk now! 

2016-10-31T10:27:54+00:00 October 31st, 2016|Features|