The style of desk we know today first began to appear in the late 17th & 18th centuries, however the earliest forms of desk have been traced back to medieval times. In that time basically they were a large slim legged table, sturdily built to hold the huge manuscripts of the period. As time passed more precise cabinet making became an industry and large workshops set up, drawers were gradually added to make the early desks that we're familiar with today.
|18th Century German writing desk, available from www.jmantiques.com|
|19th century mahogany partners desk available from www.danielsantiques.com|
|A Fine pair of Regency period desks circa 1800-1810 available from, www.subkoffantiques.com|
As Industry grew desks became more common in the workplace and were reduced in size to suit 2 or even a single worker, during the 19th century they began to become a mass produced item of furniture. As the amount of correspondence and paperwork increased specific desks such as “The Rolltop desk” were designed for this purpose, this desk had a raised shelf and vertical sections for papers, at the end of the day a wooden shutter known as a "Tambour" was pulled down and the desks contents locked shut, this style of desk are still produced today to some extent.
|An Oak Rolltop desk circa 1890|
|A fine 19th century Scottish desk available from, www.1stdibs.com|
Although since the 18th century desks had been present in some of the larger and more affluent houses as the 20th century came closer desks began more common in general households and makers produced more decorative and practical style built specifically for houses.
|An early 20th century reproduction small "Knee Hole" desk|
|An Arts & Craft period oak desk circa 1920 available from, www.christopheedwards.com|
The elaborate styles of the Art Deco period of the 1930's brought new designs and new techniques using curved laminates and rich burr veneers.
|1930's English "Modernist" Art Deco desk available from,www.british-bentply.com|
|Swedish 1930's Art Deco desk available from,www.rupertcavendish.co.uk|
The 60's & 70's brought a whole range of moulded plastic and very colourful examples but all more minimalistic in design. In the 1980's the style reverted back to the large “power desks” of 1800's also modern age glass desks were used.
|A Colourful 1950's laminate & metal desk available from,www.1stdibs.com|
|A French 1960's desk available from; www.maisonbananas.fr|