D&AD: Making Desks Delicious

Since my last product update I’ve been busier than I think I’ve ever been.

In the last week there has been numerous meetings,  submissions and two presentations.
But at least I got to wear a suit for presentations; I love suits.

However there has also been an ample amount of product design fitted in nicely. So, from where I left off.


The response from local educational institutions have been disappointing.
So I had to try a different tact; Instead I asked people to DRAW a representation of their old school desks (the more eccentric the better)

Here is one lovely artistic example I got from Rebecca Dale

Close to the Mona Lisa

 Out of all the descriptions the one thing that stood out to me was this

School desks are boring

Children react to their environment – and in an age where we are actively trying to encourage creative thinking & learning; why is it that the object that a student will spend the majority of their time at is completely uninspiring – And according to my mission statement – this needs to change

Furthermore; I was aware that schools were becoming increasingly overcrowded – but I was unaware of quite how bad the problem had become. Recent figures showed that one in five primary schools and a quarter of secondary schools are now overcrowded. I dont have to explain why this is unnacceptable and is having a completely devastating effect on our education system.

I also looked into how children are being taught in other parts of the world; in particular looking at methods which take a different look at the system. The Vittra Telefonplan, in Stockholm does just that. In short the groundbreaking school’s lessons, classrooms and furniture shape to accommodate the students, not the other way round.

This allows for way more diverse learning, as well as teaching. Kind of like a university experience, but for kids…Probably without the booze.

Idea Generation

From here I could use the information, insights and inspiration gathered in the reasearch stage to “Mind-spew” onto a huge peice of paper to get it all out. After 1 superbowl (and what a superbowl!) and 1 litre of energy juice – It looked a little like this;

 Idea Selection

For me; and for anyone who has seen the board – the one idea that JUMPS out is the quarter circular desk.
I really did love this idea because it answers all of my problems, the form in itself is different, and if treated the right way, beautiful. While the physical properties of the desk itself meant it could be diverse in an individual use; or as a collaborative space. Furthermore the use of this particular shape is particularly un-economical when it comes to space, which is exactly what  I wanted, to take the space and give it back to the students.

However I wanted to experiment with the form and arrangement of the desks to see just how diverse I could make it, And here’s what happened when I went all primary school with a few sheets of card!


Although I did try the more straight edged modular form as well as the circular, I just felt that the circular stood out and answered what I wanted to give to the users 100% – And I wanted to cut things out and make pretty shapes. So I decided to take the circular form forward.


Once I had decided on the form of the topdown worksurface I started sketching the form of the rest of the desk, trying to keep in with the organic feel that I was trying to create – But purposeful at the same time.  Once I’d sketched more than any man should sketch ever – I computer generated a rough draft

Although this is a rough draft it is very close to the final form; although after some careful design consideration and research into the bending properties of wood; some of the high wear area’s and more complicated bends will be replaced by some sort of metal; I’ve yet to make these ammendments.



Here are the 4 draft boards produced for the D&AD sumbission so far

The Future

I now have to look into redesigning the desk with the amendments I talked about – And updating the content on the boards. Then I get to play with powertools to acctually MAKE  one. Can you tell how excited I am!?


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