Over the last 20 years there have been big changes in the general design of office furniture and office desks in particular.
For many years before this not a lot had changed. Technology had improved the design and finish of office furniture, and costs had reduced, mainly due to the larger number of office desks which were needed.
But in the main the office desk was essentially a rectangular work surface, supported by 4 legs and with some under desk storage attached.
Before the advent of computers, there was very little need for anything more than this. A secretary could join a return desk to her main desk, so that she had somewhere to put her typewriter, and an executive could join two rectangular desks together using a quadrant section, to produce a really big double desk layout.
And even when computers started appearing, for a few years not a lot changed, except that now in the office was a dedicated computer workstation, to which people went to use the computer when required. You have to remember that at this time Personal Computers were so expensive that they were not really personal, but shared between a department or section.
Also, at that time, most people could not really see why they would need a computer all the time, mainly due to the fact that the software was fairly basic and even a little “nerdy . If you are old enough you probably remember the bloke in your office ( usually had a beard) who could speak in MSDOS, and could make the black screen do things by typing weird commands in green.
But then, with the advent of “gooeys” ( graphical user interfaces) everyone in the office could use the computer and more importantly could see uses for it.
When economies of scale and open source architecture made the prices of PC tumble, they truly became personal, and now offices were gearing up so that every desk would have one.
And then suddenly , everyone started to realise that the 3 foot deep desks were just not deep enough for a massive monitor ( they were like televisions).
Health and safety directives were issued about monitor positioning, and suddenly manufacturers had developed a desk top which gave the user enough space to position the monitor far enough away, but still allowed the planners to design layouts which were as efficient in terms of space as the old rectangular desks.
This was the advent of the radial desk, also known as a crescent or hockey stick shaped desk.
This shape stayed with us for over twenty years, and in fact is still the most common desk around.
However, with flat screen monitors being cheap and plentiful nowadays, office desks don’t need to be deeper than 80cm, so we are seeing more and more wave desks( somewhere between a radial desk and a rectangular one) and even more rectangular desks again.
They may have stylish metal legs, and super sophisticated cable management systems, but essentially they are just the same a what were used before the micro chip.
Maybe soon the old wooden desks will also come back into fashion