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Born Out of Necessity: Space-Saving Desk Does 5 (Actually 10) Things at Once

Space-saving design is born out of necessity. It solves, simplifies, and gives an alternative. Sometimes, it even anticipates a problem before it occurs. It does not need to be complicated or fussy, just functional.
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Space-saving design is born out of necessity. It solves, simplifies, and gives an alternative. Sometimes, it even anticipates a problem before it occurs. It does not need to be complicated or fussy, just functional. Case in point: engineered to turn on a dime, this particular space-saving desk works very hard and lets less do more; it:
1. makes room
2. follows you around
3. adapts
4. transports
5. transforms

I designed it for our older daughter's room to be used in front of a glass wall of sliding doors. Let me back up and explain. No one in my family was excited about a run-down fixer I envisioned as our ideal abode. Dead-set on getting the project (as if I had a crystal ball), I managed to persuade one of the kids by describing anticipated potential and promising her own private patio. Together we had enough voting power. Mission accomplished!

Neglected and under-appreciated, the property was dormant under the hill. Visualizing what was to reveal itself in the process of waking it up, I dug deep, like a determined archeologist searching for a treasure. A massive knoll, encroaching on the house sparked my imagination. The goal was to uncover, accentuate, and truly celebrate the beauty hidden beneath. Frank Lloyd Wright would've called it "marrying to the ground."

As promised, our older daughter Mia ended up with a room facing "new and improved" backyard. The challenge of providing access to outdoors while capitalizing on the view for the purposes of cultivating good study habits presented an opportunity, as usual.


In an effort to create an environment where benevolent work routines are naturally suggested and sitting at a desk is associated with a sense of being uplifted, I devise a slender, machine-like table on casters--lightweight, compact, and maneuverable--something that could be slipped into a corner while not in use and wheeled out when necessary. I utilize aluminum as the sole material.


Then, I send a picture of it to a MoMA buyer and subsequently receive an indication that my new ergonomic desk, dubbed as A-Desk, might be of interest. I schedule a meeting. And the next thing I do is design a collection of companion pieces. Might as well take full advantage of the opportunity! (see A-Line and other mobile furniture in ideaBOOK 03)

The name is a play on words, A-Desk stands for "aluminum desk", "Alla's desk", as well as simply being "a desk". It gives the product an elemental, every-desk connotation--it is the epitome, the essence of deskness that assists you in getting work done while:

1. Saving space by avoiding clichés
2. Maintaining balance by elevating your mood
3. Achieving a sense of freedom by being flexible
4. Chasing your dreams by putting you in a driver's seat
5. Developing personal style in the process of turning you into a design connoisseur

Minimal in design and versatile in application, A-Desk, conceived as a work surface for a teen's bedroom, is adaptable enough to be used as a breakfast table, a sideboard, or a console. It caters to the owner's demands at any given time while providing a sense of style and elegance.

Inherently resistant to corrosion, it's not too precious to be used outdoors. It exudes sleek precision that embodies the product's honesty of materials and integrity of construction. Made of the most abundant metal in the Earth's crust, it is lightweight and 100% recyclable.

It debuts in MoMA Design Store's Spring 2009 catalog under the heading "Design That Works." It also receives the very prestigious Good Design Award and is included in the permanent collection of The Chicago Athenaeum, Museum of Architecture and Design. How great is that!

Imagine: a need to create a good working atmosphere results in a desk that, when wheeled out, transforms a bedroom into a work-focused private office. And the rest is history. Well, this happens all the time--I think of what I would like to have and then design it.


Alla is an architect on demand advising DIY home improvement enthusiasts online. To learn about how you can work with her, click here.

Photography: Josh Perrin

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