Desks of the Rich and Famous: Workspaces of Highly Creative People


Ever wondered how your favorite artist gets their work done? No, we mean, exactly how. As in, if we use the same pen Hemingway used, and the same kind of paper, and at the same time of day, maybe we’ll… nevermind. Regardless of pen type, there is something fascinating about the artist’s desk, and like anything else, everyone will draw their own far-reaching conclusions. In particular, it seems like everyone has their own opinion about what the state of someone’s workspace “means,” and we guess it has more to do with what the adage-makers own desks looked like than anything else. Whether a cluttered desk means a cluttered mind, or whether a cluttered desk just means a cluttered desk, or whether a messy desk is a sign of genius, we don’t know. But be their desks cluttered or clean, these creative people are definitely on this side of brilliant. Indulge in some harmless voyeurism and sneak a peek at the desks and workspaces of writers, artists, and thinkers. Then, it’s time to redecorate.

Susan Sontag

Ah, the literary romance of a writer with a cigarette in one hand and a pen (we imagine) in the other. Even her wall art is charmingly writing-related. And Italian.

Yves Saint Laurent

We love the classy layout and inspiration board — especially the drawing of a thin man with glasses, which seems to remind us of someone we know. Also note the dog bed and pile of toys in the corner. That’s for Moujik, whose name means “Russian peasant.” Oh, Yves.

Milton Glaser

Glaser’s desk shows off the spacial consciousness and controlled whimsy that is evident in his graphic design work. He says, “I hate change, except in the work itself. I still work at my desk in the same way as I’ve done for the last 60 years. But now, frequently I work next to a young associate who operates a computer so that we can achieve results unavailable to me previously.” [via from the desk of]

Albert Einstein

We always imagined that Einstein’s desk, pictured here on the day he died, would be a messy jumble. But check out those bookcases on either side of the chalkboard — that’s evidence of the left-brain/right-brain dichotomy if we’ve ever seen it. [via LIFE]

Tina Fey

Okay, we know this is from an American Express photo shoot, but we like to think this is a picture of her actual home office. Check out the intricate Post-It note organizational system — that screams Tina to us.

Marc Johns

Breaking the mold a bit, designer and illustrator Marc Johns‘ workspace is just his dining room table, clean and blank when he’s not at the task. Perhaps this is a reflection of his drawings, which are often baubles of dry, witty whimsy floating on a blank canvas. He says, “I also have on old piece of furniture — it’s a chest of drawers with doors — in the dining room we affectionately call Edward, and Edward houses all of my drawing and painting supplies, as well as everything I need to ship orders.” Of course he names his furniture. Of course he does. [via from the desk of]

Woody Allen

This looks like a cross between our dotty, scolding grandmother’s sitting room and a rambunctious child’s playroom. Which, actually, seems about right.

Al Gore

Gore, ever the over-stimulated modernist, has four large screens in his office, and every other surface is piled with stacks of paper. So he’s busy and important. But what is that absurd frog on the wall telling us? [via Time]

Will Self

Nevermind, Tina. Will Self takes the cake on the Post-It front. He writes, “My books begin life in notebooks, then they move on to Post-it notes, the Post-its go up on the walls of the room… I can’t throw anything away. Anything. I’m going to end up like one of those old weirdos who lives in a network of tunnels burrowed through trash – yet I do not fear this.” [via the Guardian]

Roald Dahl

This room was in a shed on Dahl’s property that was only for writing. He set everything up so he would never have to move from his easy chair — a man after our own hearts, indeed. Writing happens best when you’re cozy. According to the Guardian, “The table near to his right hand had all kinds of strange memorabilia on it, one of which was part of his own hip bone that had been removed; another was a ball of silver paper that he’d collected from bars of chocolate since he was a young man and it had gradually increased in size.” Odd. But then again, so was he.