The desk as stage
Magazine Contact #15
Statistics has revealed that office people spend a full seven years at their workplace, and the lion’s share of this time at their own desk. That was reason enough for the Köln International School of Design (KISD) to carry out a broadly based study about desk culture. Over a period of six months 700 desks of women and men working in the four sectors banks, call centres, administration, and design offices in eleven countries on five continents were photographed and closely scrutinized. On each desk more than 12 objects were found that had nothing to do with the workflow proper.
Uta Brandes and Michael Erlhoff, the publishers of the study (My Desk is My Castle. Exploring Personalisation Cultures, Basel, Birkhäuser Verlag 2012) interpreted this as a clear ex-pression of the fact that we look for ways to act out our individuality and to mark our territory even in our fast moving working world. The basic human need for identification and security have become quite evident.
When evaluating the material, both intercultural and industry-specific as well as gender-specific particularities were identified. The impressive photographs clearly show the many different ways that desks all over the world are appropriated by their users. Quite often, this behavior is absolutely fitting the well-known clichés. Women love to be surrounded by more objects - and sometimes plushy ones - than their male colleagues, and they like a pastel ambience, whereas men prefer dark colours and mark their workplace with sports accessories, toy cars and martial figures.