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The Best Desk Décor, According to 9 People With Enviable Offices

Some people are going back to school. Some are returning to desks filled with the residue of summer. For that group, it’s about time for a fall upgrade. Below, the desk-scapes of creative types across the board — from clothing designers to graphic designers to art directors (not all of whom keep their desks so tidy, but many of whom have some really cool stuff) — for some back-to-work inspiration.

Jac Cameron, creative director, Ayr

Cameron at work in Soho.
Le Labo ‘Santal 26’ Vintage Tin Candle
$65 at Nordstrom

“I love candles. I love anything that smells great. It’s really helpful to have that stuff around you as you’re working on the creative process and creating new seasons. We used to burn Le Labo’s Santal a lot. Now, I subscribe to a candle subscription called Scent, and they send me a candle every three months.”

Amethyst Cluster
$10 at Amazon

“I have a million crystals around me. Next to the candle on my desk, there’s an amethyst crystal. I like, energetically, what it does for me. There’s also labradorite. It has an iridescence, and it’s good for the creative process. And behind me on the windowsill, there are some rose quartz, some clear crystal quartz, and then some scents that I love to be surrounded by. I love Agent Provocateur’s original scent.”

Labradorite Polished Crystal
$25 at Amazon
Rose Quartz Gem Pyramid
$7 at Amazon
Agent Provocateur Women’s Perfume
$28 at Jet
Encens Magazine
$39 at Magazine Cafe

“Usually, on my desk there will be lots of imagery. I love Unconditional magazine and Encens magazine, and I’ll usually have at least one of those on my desk at any given point. Encens is made in Paris, and they have a very particular way of doing editorial work that I really like. As a reference point, it’s really inspiring to me.”

Pentel GraphGear 500 Automatic Drafting Pencil
$6 at Amazon

“I always have lots of pencils around. I use a pencil called Pentel. It’s the really fine lead one. I feel crazy about this stuff, but I have to draw and write with that pencil. My desk is a true working space, so it’s never really so tidy.”

T.J. Zafarana, art director, Poppin

Zafarana’s desk at Poppin HQ.
Golden Devil’s Ivy, Pothos 4” Pot
$2 at Amazon

“Having greenery in a workplace makes it happier and more inviting.”

Bulleit Bourbon
From $20 at Drizly

“Who doesn’t like a little booze at the end of the day? Great way to unwind or get the creative juices flowing.”

National Aeronautics and Space Administration Graphics Standards Manual
$58 at Amazon

“I’m a bit of a space nerd — this is the NASA Graphic Standard Manual from the 1960s, which I keep as inspiration.”

Wacom Intuos3 6 x 8-Inch Pen Tablet
$330 at Amazon

“That’s a Wacom tablet, which allows me to use my mouse like I would a pen — great for the work I do in Photoshop.”

Mint Poppin 3-Drawer Locking Stow Filing Cabinet
$249 at The Container Store

“I keep a Mini Stow File Cabinet as a way to encourage impromptu meetings when someone wants to pull up a seat.”

Rebecca Hochreiter, VP marketing, Paintzen

Hochreiter’s desk, right, is back-to-back with Paintzen’s director of marketing’s desk.
VersaDesk 48” Power Pro
$499 at Amazon

“I’d call my desk area ‘geeky clean.’ My standing desk is a Versa Desk, which is a great way to stay in shape, for those hours between the commute and the gym. If you stand most of the day, it helps with leg and core strength, improves posture, and reduces back and shoulder pain. They say sitting is the new smoking.”

Glass & Metal Vanity Organizer
$19 at Target

“The pen organizer is from Target. And the almost matching glass jar that I’m using as a pen cup on the top of my standing desk is from Anthropologie.”

Tonal Highball Glass
$14 at Anthropologie
Floral Design Stainless Steel Sharp Tip Classic Stork Scissors
$7 at Amazon

“In my organizer are fun, flowery scissors, ruler, eraser, colored pencils, and other office supplies from Target, and an initialed business-card holder from Henri Bendel.”

Prismacolor Premier Colored Pencils
$31 at Amazon
West 57th Business Card Case
$38 at Henri Bendel
Ted Baker London Nude Brogue Citrus Bloom Nude Notebook
$22 at Lord & Taylor

“My cute notebooks are Ted Baker London.”

Cory Isaacson, co-founder, Walton Isaacson

Isaacson’s office in Chicago. Photo: JOHN MCGUIRE/JOHN MCGUIRE
Antique Deco Rare L.C. Smith & Corona
$370 at eBay

I Bought this 1920s Smith Corona Typewriter from the New York Times many years ago. I love history and the idea of what may have been created by this old machine. I use it to write personal notes and thank-you cards. Enclosed with the company wax seal. I’m not sure if people realize a typewriter is being used for the note, but I like it anyway.”

Encylopaedia Britannica (Volumes 1-16 Plus Indexes)
$250 at Amazon

“My parents bought me and my siblings a set of Encyclopedia Britannica when I was very young, and it was a big deal. I used them all the time through school. They taught me a lot about hard work, grinding through those books to get the answers. When I moved offices, I came to find out that Encyclopedia Britannica HQ was two floors below. It was a sign, so I keep two volumes here.”

Montblanc Meisterstück Platinum Line Classique Ballpoint Pen
$230 at Amazon

“The Montblanc pen is a gift from friend and partner Bill Braunstein (our company CFO). He’s always on me about ‘sharpening the pencil,’ and yet he bought me a pen.”

The Lost Prophet: The Life and Times of Bayard Rustin by John D’Emilio
$18 at Barnes & Noble

“The book Lost Profit: The Life and Times of Bayard Rustin is a gift from Aaron Walton (co-founder and my partner at Walton Isaacson). Our company was founded on diversity of thought and culture, and we always share books that inspire us about people and events that shape the world and help promote unity and equality.”

Juan Carlos Pagan, co-founder, Sunday Afternoon

Pagan has two desks, but prefers designing late into the night at his minimalist home-office space.
Abbott Collection Classic Pillar Candles, 3 Pack
$40 at Amazon

“I have two offices, one where I share a desk, and my home office where I do most of my stuff. I keep the actual desk pretty bare because I get distracted super easily, so I can’t have a lot of stuff on the desk. I have candles flanking my desk. I’m not dissimilar to a lot of creative professionals in that sometimes I work at night when the groove goes. Things start clicking late at night, and the harsh light bulb can be soul-sucking, so I’ll light the candles and work by candlelight and keep it super chill. I normally go scentless because it’s mostly for the light and mood, so I keep it basic.”

Logitech Z200 With Stereo Sound for Multiple Devices
$26 at Amazon

“I have a surround-sound speaker system and some of them sit on my desk. These are Logitech.”

$11 at Amazon

“On the top shelf is actually an hourglass with black sand. A couple of years ago, I got into horology and I’m really nerdy about the idea of time, but I thought an hourglass is a beautiful way to measure time, and I found this beautiful hourglass.”

Herb Lubalin
$38 at United Editions

“The book is a retrospective book on Lubalin, arguably the most important figure to look at design work. He’s a seminal figure to me, and someone I latched on to with regards to his ideas in typography and letterforms. It’s also just a really beautiful book in general. The one I have is out of print, but the same publisher has since made another Lubalin book.”

Very Rare Antique NYC Public School Door Knob
$225 at Etsy

“I also have 18th-century door knobs that were used in NYC public schools and refurbished. I also got these at an antique store. Most of them got destroyed, but some people kept them and I have two. The typography is stunning. I love this idea of all these children opening the door to learn something, and all the hands that might’ve touched these doorknobs. They’re also just really nice objects.”

Anthony Burrill Work Hard Screen Print
$77 at Trouva

“The poster is Anthony Burrill, and every fucking graphic designer on the planet has that poster, but I still love the sentiment, nonetheless. I was like, ‘Fuck it. I know it’s a cliché and I don’t care.’”

Ikea Forsa Work Lamp
$43 at Amazon

“That light is another non-room light. It’s a softer light that I’ll put on if I need to sketch something or if I need more light. It just hovers over the bookshelf over my desk to give my area more light if I need it. It’s really cheap, I think Ikea.”

Oberon Sinclair, partner at NeueHouse and founder of My Young Auntie

Sinclair’s workspace in NeueHouse.
Mulberry Postman’s Lock Agenda
$385 at Mulberry

“The notebook is an old mulberry FileFax. I like it because I’ve had it for a really, really long time. It’s a planner and holds contacts, and I’ve had it forever. I write with an ink pen, and it seems to work with an ink pen. And it’s lovely to have. It’s a mulberry planner and you can add pages and take them out, so it’s like a binder. You can have plain pages and a diary and inserts and colors. It’s an unusual thing to have. It has a map in it.”

The Story of Island Records: Keep On Running
$40 at Amazon

“I like to have things around me that inspire me. I have my friend Salman Rushdie’s new book that just came out yesterday. I have books I’ve worked on like The Story of Island Records, the Fat Radish cookbook; I have a book that makes me laugh, The Official Dancehall Dictionary, it’s a guide to dancehall dialect and slang. I have a book called Oh So Pretty that my friend Toby Mott did. One more book I was just sent by Todd Glaser. He just sent me his new book last week called Proximity. It’s the most beautiful photography book.”

The Fat Radish Kitchen Diaries
$32 at Amazon
The Official Dancehall Dictionary
$10 at Amazon
Oh So Pretty: Punk in Print 1976-1980
$20 at Amazon
$65 at Todd Glaser Photography
Postcards From Penguin: One Hundred Book Covers in One Box
$19 at Amazon

“I have a lot of postcards. I collect them, and friends and I send them to each other. I have vintage Penguin-book postcards and others with some ridiculous slogans on them. I keep them here because my desk is about being inspired and feeling good about boring sitting.”

Simon Pearce Medium Woodbury Vase
$135 at Bloomingdale’s

“I always have fresh flowers. We get them from the neighborhood farmers’ market. The vase is Simon Pearce. It was a gift.”

Midea Compact Single Reversible Door Refrigerator
$117 at Amazon

“I have a mini-fridge under my desk, and we keep yummy beverages like coconut water and matcha tea by MatchaBar.”

Mia Saini Duchnowski, co-founder, Oars+Alps

Duchnowski’s desk in Chicago.
Two Leaves and a Bud Organic Earl Grey Black Tea
$19 at Amazon

“I always start my morning with Earl Grey tea (I loathe coffee). If I don’t have it, I’m an awful person to interact with. My favorite brand is Two Leaves and a Bud. Been drinking that since when I was working at Goldman Sachs and my then–managing director (who is a Brit, and they know tea) introduced it to me.”

P.F. Candle Co. Travel Jar Candle Teakwood & Tobacco
$12 at Urban Outfitters

“My husband (the rower inspiration behind Oars+Alps) and I love candles. I actually bought him this candle during one of my business trips, and I loved it so much, I bought another one for myself. It’s very earthy with notes of teakwood and tobacco. It’s also a soy candle. I don’t buy non-soy candles.”

Life Is Lovely Spiral Notebook
$13 at Paper Source

“I spend a lot of my day in meetings — and I love writing things down. My Paper Source Life Is Lovely gets me through each and every meeting or phone call. I tried using the Wunderlist app, but it’s too cumbersome for me, and I get no satisfaction from check-marking a completed task on my phone.”

Sugarfina Rosé All Day Rosé Infused Gummy Bear Gift Box
$20 at Bloomingdale’s

“I don’t eat candy, but have a soft spot for gummies. I recently was gifted these rosé gummies from Sugarfina.”

Little Barn Organic Jasmine + Ocean Water Hair Texturizer
$9 at Little Barn Apothecary

“When my workday is over and I’m heading out, I spritz my hair with Little Barn Apothecary Jasmine + Ocean Water. It makes my hair beachlike year-round. I never blow-dry my hair, so I really rely on this awesome spray to tame my natural waves. I also keep a clutch with me, because I have evening plans almost every night.”

Rose Gold Crossbody
$40 at Paper Source

Jeanie Engelbach, lifestyle curator and founder, Apartment Jeanie

Engelbach’s desk is in her bedroom. Photo: Photographer: Pixy Liao/©2017 Pixy Liao
Vintage Chalkware Carnival Pig
$27 at Etsy

“I collect a lot of things, my most recent of which is carnival chalkware. I have three pieces on my desk, including a sailor girl and a pig.”

Farmer’s Market Foods, Organic Canned Pumpkin Pie Mix
$3 at Amazon

“My pens and pencils are kept in a pumpkin-pie-filling can that I found in the laundry room of my building because I love the vintage artwork on the wrapper, and I love using other household items for things. The Sharpie holders are both mugs from the bar Otto’s Shrunken Head. Another food can is spray-painted yellow and that holds dry-erase markers. You can use dry-erase on glass and mirrors, so I use those to write on the window. It eliminates the need for a bulletin board.”

Bayco SL-300 8.5 Inch Clamp Light With Aluminum Reflector
$6 at Jet

“Those are just simple clamp lights that I got at the hardware store. I also printed Instagram photos of my bulldogs and got micro-magnets to put them on the pole of the lamps. It obstructs the pole and makes me smile when I’m at my desk.”

Blush Poppin Medium Accessory Tray
$7 at The Container Store

“In the winter, when I don’t need the air conditioners, I have a cover and it becomes a side space for me, and I put a tray on there. It’s a Poppin tray from the Container Store, and they come in all different amazing colors. It holds my business cards and a couple of notes.”

Archival Document Storage Boxes
$15 at The Container Store

“The tan cardboard-looking box is where I keep all the printer paper, so it doesn’t look like I’m storing all my work supplies here. I take it out of the wrapper and put it in the box.”

Stephen Olmstead, VP design partnerships, InVision App

Olmstead transformed a trailer into his mobile workspace.
JustNile Quiet Creative Wall Clock
$20 at Amazon

“I work for InVision App, a fully distributed team with employees all over the world. It’s hard to keep time zones straight, so I purchased and hung these wall clocks to easily determine what time it is in New York, London, and Israel.”

Ozeri Brezza III Dual Oscillating 10” High Velocity Desk and Table Fan
$59 at Amazon

“My office is inside a trailer, so airflow and circulation are important. This desk fan is simultaneously compact and quiet; I leave it running most of the day.”

The Anchor
$12 at Amazon

“The Anchor is a fun little accessory that sticks to the underside of your desk and allows you to hang things like headphones — I hang my Gear VR headset and MH40 headphones on it.”

Minimalist Solid Wood Table Lamp Bedside Desk Lamp
$21 at Amazon

“This minimalist, simple desk lamp brings a little more light into the space.”

Audio Technica Microphone With Knox Desktop Boom Arm Mic Stand & Pop Filter
$90 at Amazon

“Working for a remote company, we rely heavily on video and audio calls. Having easy access to this microphone via the boom arm insures that I’m accessing high-quality audio, with the ability to push the mic out of the way when not in use.”

Topo by Ergodriven
$99 at Amazon

“This anti-fatigue mat is my secret weapon for standing a good portion of the day. I cannot say enough good things about this. It’s a contoured, squishy, and just as important as the desk itself. Without it, I wouldn’t be able to stand nearly as long.”

Chalkboard Brush-On
$14 at Amazon

“The trailer has a pretty bland plywood drop door at the back where my desk faces. So I decided to paint it with chalkboard paint to give it a more intriguing and writable texture.”

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Best Desk Décor, According to 9 People With Enviable Offices