The executive desk you may find in today’s office space may not look it, but it is the result of centuries of evolution. Scanning through paintings of the 15th century you will find that the wealthy sat at desks that were no doubt at the time considered to be modern desks. To see them now, it is hard to fathom that anyone spent much time at them. Of course the reality is that they did spend a great deal of time at them, especially when you consider all their work was hand written.
Many 15th century desks were little more than a narrow flat surface with a sort of triangular pyramid rising from the middle to create an ergonomic place to lean paper work and books against. This was likely because at the time chairs were built much lower to the ground making it difficult to view the pages at your 15th century executive desk. It was not until the 16th century that the needs of the modern desk chair were given the same importance as the desk itself.
In the 16th century, executive desk chairs were given much needed attention and while they were still constructed from hard woods and were not very comfortable, they were at least closer to the right height. Art from this period in history shows persons sitting at ornate desks with their work sprawled out across the table surface as well as on the floor and neighboring stools. The modern desk of that time was seeing some improvement in design and comfort, but the issue of storage had not been addressed.
Throughout the 17th and 18th centuries, the executive desk evolved enormously, but almost entirely in the nature of its design and look. The modern desk of the 18th century showed signs of oriental influence and still carried the heavy ornaments of the baroque period. It had still not addressed the issue of storage. There was no ideal place to file paper work and keep a work space organized.
At last during the 19th century, the filing cabinet was created and even included in the design of a few executive desks of that era. As this pivotal century drew to a close the executive desk was finding its place in the arena of status symbols. No longer a simple table and chair, the modern desk was given much more attention and time in the limelight.
In the 20th century, the executive desk would often be seen in movies as the backdrop for Hollywood ‘s greatest names such as Humphrey Bogart, Cary Grant and Warren Beatty as Dick Tracy. The executive desk had officially become a status symbol. Whether it be the modern desk found in a corporate top floor office or the dimly lit back office of a secret agent, Hollywood gave the executive desk an air of mystery.
The importance of the modern desk never took a back seat again. Today the desk that you choose to sit at conveys where you are on the corporate ladder as well as how affluent you are. Though the executive desk has seen a long history of evolution, rest assured that it’s presence shall remain for many generations to come.