How someone organizes their desk can tell you a lot about how they get work done. That’s why we’re stepping into the offices of enviably creative (and productive) people to look at what’s on their desks — pens and notebooks and gadgets, but also décor and tchotchkes. Today, we’ve asked Bronson Van Wyck, an event planner with clients who range from Chanel and Veuve Clicquot to literal royals, to show and tell.
I love the sawhorse desk that Ralph Lauren had, and I think it was probably $12,000. That wasn’t going to cut it for me. I mean, it would cut it, but it wasn’t going to be the desk I was going to get. … And then I found these sawhorses, and I just added the piece of glass. My sister [and business partner Mimi Van Wyck] has a stand-up desk and loves it, and I probably should have a stand-up desk. The thing is, a lot of times, I’m looking at my computer because we’re talking about something visual, and if you have a stand-up desk, it’s sort of a barrier. So it’s nicer to have the lower desk. It makes the other person feel more comfortable.
Editor’s note: The exact parts to re-create his DIY desk aren’t available online, but Van Wyck recommends this desk from West Elm with metal sawhorse legs for something with a similar style for less than $1,000.
I think I probably complained about my back hurting too many times, and somebody in the office said, “Here’s the chair that nobody’s back hurts in, so find something else to complain about.” It’s good. It goes up and down. It’s bouncy. I don’t sit when I’m on the phone, and I probably sit a total of an hour and 20 minutes every day, so I’m actually not in it that much.
I’m writing a book right now with Phaidon, and we’re in the home stretch of it, and I’ve got a disco chapter. And this book is a book of album covers from the disco era, and there’s so much great graphic design and so many great photographs in this book.
The second book is the Art of Burning Man, and it’s a beautiful book. When we started Workshop, which is the experiential and brand company that we have, we really started focusing on events not just as parties but as platforms for communication and persuasion — experiences the guests become immersed in, if you will. And Burning Man is very experiential; you’re right in it. As we’re building out events for brand clients, we’re thinking of ways to create a total environment, so that’s why that was there.
I’m sort of a total nerd, and if I wasn’t doing what I’m doing, I’d probably be a grad student studying the history of architecture or history. I love to read, and I get so much inspiration for what we’re doing from the historical … And there’s a party, mythological-based, which is why this is out.
The stack in front, they’re mostly auction catalogues. I kind of have an auction problem. I would never have said I was an athlete, but I figured out a game that I liked, and that’s auctions. I’ve always got a couple of auctions going, and mostly it’s stuff we’re using for events. Stuff cycles through, though; it’ll be used for a party, it might hang in my living room, then I’ll take it out for some other party, and then it falls down and gets broken and you move on.
I still write notes by hand. I think it’s so nice. Ellen Weldon made this stationery for me. The edge is a pale blue, and those cards have my dad’s family’s crest on it. I write a lot of thank-you notes. Tabitha Simmons and Topper Mortimer got married on Saturday, so I’m writing a note to them; I was doing that this morning: “Congratulations and thanks for having me, and what a pretty dress.”
Eighty percent of the time, I write in gray ink, but if it goes to a different color, then the people in the office know there’s something going on. Take note, cut the budget, explain, review this document again, that kind of thing. It’s called a Pentel Sign pen. It’s my favorite pen because it’s a marker, but it’s thin enough that you can write a letter. But it’s got a little bit of an angle on it, so you can add flourish when appropriate.
What are the perks of this job? You know the back entrance to every great venue in New York City. Chances are, at any party you go to, you know the head waiter, and you can get a drink really fast. And you also get to sample a lot of great food from great restaurants and great caterers, and you get to sample great wine and beer. The bottle opener was a gift from a client. We’re always hosting tastings in the office, either with clients or to proceed a tasting with a client; we’ll go through everything ourselves, which is maybe just an excuse at 5 o’clock to stay at work but have happy hour at the same.
Editor’s note: Since the bottle opener was a gift, Van Wyck isn’t quite sure where it’s from, but this forged pewter bottle opener from Match Pewter has a similar heft.
We’re doing an event for Mazda, and those are the paint chips for the different colors of the new car that’s going to be unveiled. So I’m trying to create the space so that it’ll exist in a completely complementary fashion to what they’re doing with the product. I got those from one of the product designers. Pantone chips are what I use. You can have the Pantone, but when you’re printing, it’s slightly different colors, and then when you’re painting, you have to translate it into the paint brand color. It’s still not a science, even with Pantone. Pantone’s fantastic because you can share it internationally. But when you go to produce it, there’s still that extra step of having to eyeball it. So that’s where I am with this. I’m going to have to take these and try to match them with fabrics and paints.
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