Where Will You Put Your Desk?


I want to buy a new desk for my office so I decided to go online and do research. The furniture market is intense. It's either Ikea or you're spending 10k on a couch. There's no middle ground unless you buy used. But that’s ok, for my purpose all I need is a simple wooden desk. I type in “desk” in search bar and every desk has a monitor on it. It assumes I will be using it to work on a computer. I guess that make sense, we rarely see non-computer work on a desk these days.

Except for the White House. The Oval Office desk is preserved as a symbol for pre-computer work. No monitor, no laptop. It is situated facing the door. The pre-computer desk looks very powerful to me right now. Like a throne, but without any of the monarchy baggage.

It would seem offensive if this was where the President worked every day. The aesthetics don't work. Even though a lot of people work at something resembling this desk, including high status ones.

We went through a weird time with technology and the presidency recently. We went from no Presidents working on computers, to Obama using out a laptop in 2008 a few times to show he was cool with the big tech boom. But then we got Trump who ended up tweeting feverishly at 3am from his phone every night. It made people feel uncomfortable. It also highlighted the boomer technophobia into phone obsession pipeline that started in 2013+. Then we went back to Biden who doesn’t tweet or use technology in public.

A New Norm

At some point in the future, a President may put a monitor on the Oval Office desk like 99% of other workers. Will it look ridiculous? Maybe. It’s hard to tell. However, the monitor will not change the orientation of the Oval Office desk. It will remain facing the door.

A new norm I've noticed (because of monitors) nearly everyone's desk is facing a wall. Doesn't seem like it was the norm before all work moved onto the computer. In more flexible situations people almost always default to facing the room or the entrance.

Traditionally, a desk facing a wall would be a form of punishment. Facing a wall lowers our panoramic vision and removes peripheral vision. Stress levels increase when we narrow our field of vision for too long. Ever try working on your phone? Notice how tense you get. Maybe that’s why everyone is so angry online.

How we focus our eyes is closely linked to the internal stress levels we feel. Our vision naturally narrows when we are stressed. However, when we look up panoramically we override this default stress response and can start calming down on a psychological level.

Studies indicate that panoramic vision, which involves looking straight ahead while allowing peripheral vision to expand, can reduce stress levels. While visually focusing on a specific object, such as a computer screen, our ability to perceive details can diminish. However, panoramic vision enables us to perceive the broader environment, which can enhance our reaction time and mitigate the "fight or flight" response to stressful situations.

Not very feng-shui. Command position in feng shui has the desk face the room for this very reason .

Technology and Interior Design

Your home is your domain from the outside world, do you want it to make you sad or affect your mood? If you work hard you can own one home. If you get luck you can buy 2 homes. If you get super rich, you can float above the earth in a state of perpetual homelessness:

What we do in our homes matters because we have to live in it. That means it influences our mood and should be taken seriously. This is how people in the past have treated technology. Take the sewing machine, for example. In the second half of the 19th century, when the Singer Corporation began developing the sewing machine as a consumer product, it found that models that looked too industrial

not something you put in your home. Singer added decorative touches that gave sewing machines the look of Victorian furniture, with gold decoration on the device itself. In order to be appealing to consumers, this piece of technology, this machine needed to be disguised as furniture.

With the rise of fast fashion and the availability of low-cost clothing in recent decades, the demand for home sewing has decreased.

But you can see how this new technology had to blend in as furniture and not disrupt the home.

Interiors and Technology

Are pieces of consumer technology machines, furniture, or something else? In the rest of this Newsletter I’ll contrast between these two rooms of the home:

1) The Living Room - A revolving technological playground

2) The Kitchen - Fully assimilated technologies

The Living Room

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