When is an ironing board, not an ironing board?



When it’s Cinderella by Anna Kraitz for Design House Stockholm.

Cinderella by Anna Kraitz for Design House Stockholm, as seen during Stockholm Design Week 2023

In 1947 the American designer Edward J Wormley reflected in the New York Times on what contemporary furniture could, should, be, and amongst his thoughts on beds, chairs, storage units et al, opined that “an ideal table would be a flat plane suspended in space”, and that not least because “it’s the legs that are the big nuisance”.

“Can we find this kind of furniture in today’s market?”, he asked his readers, albeit, rhetorically, “You know we can’t.”1

Which tends to imply Wormley didn’t visit the Home Show exhibition in New York in April 1930, for had he, he would have seen Friedrich Kiesler’s Flying Desk…….

The Flying Desk by Friedrich Kiesler (Photo © and courtesy Austrian Frederick and Lillian Kiesler Private Foundation, Vienna)

In his 1917 novel The Job Sinclair Lewis makes note of a group of ambitious young clerks who work in the offices at Pemberton – “the greatest manufactory of drugs and toilet articles in the world” – and who sat at “shiny, flat-topped desks in rows”.1

And you’re all currently thinking, yeah… and… ???

……. and… while that may be a valid response today, in 1917 ambitious young clerks sitting at rows of “shiny, flat-topped desks” were, when not a revolution, then a relative novelty, and for all were highly indicative of a period of fundamental evolution and development in understandings of the office, of office work, of office workers, of office desks. A period of fundamental evolution and development that continues to inform the 21st century office. And the 21st century office desk…….

#officetour Milestones – The Modern Efficiency Desk (Image from Lee Galloway, Office Management. Its Principles and Practice, The Ronald Press Company, 1922)

Not the Situla itself.

But rather what is depicted on that small, delicately carved, 10th century ivory object: the four Christian Evangelists, Matthew, Mark, Luke and John, busy writing their gospels while seated at height-adjustable desks…….

<em>La Situla del vescovo Gotofredo</em> (photo Dominik Matus via commons.wikimedia, CC BY-SA 4.0)

It’s probably no exaggeration to claim that musicians have at best an ambivalent, truculent, openly confrontational relationship with the office. When not writing about being in love, not being in love, wanting to be in love, wanting to not be in love, etc, they can be found pouring scorn and ridicule on those who dutifully waste their days in offices when there is all that freedom to be enjoyed.

Thus one could imagine songs about office furniture being about as rare as occasions when Caílte mac Rónáin is unable to explain how a particular hill, valley or river in Ireland came by its name.


A Radio smow playlist devoted to office furniture and our complex relationship with such……

An early prototype of the USM Haller Wine Bar Module....

The height adjustable desk Hack by Konstantin Grcic for Vitra.

As we noted in a previous post, spending long periods sitting can result in shorter telomeres and thus a greater

2tables by Albertine Baronius

For us one of the stand-out projects submitted to the 2013 International Marianne Brandt Contest was without question 2tables by

Over Easter we had hoped to hoped to get to Karlsruhe to have a look at the exhibition: Interface Desk,