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The History of Desks

The desk is a staple piece in any home office. In fact, you couldn’t have a home office without a desk. While many of us know of only one or two main styles of desks, there are in fact more. Desks have a complete history behind them that is unbeknownst¬†to most. Lucky for you, we’re going to delve into the history of the different types of desks.

The First DeskOld school desk setup

In the 1880s, the first desk, the school desk, was created. Of course, its main use was in school buildings for children. John Loughlin of Ohio created this wooden desk with an inkwell holding spot around the same time the United States began enacting public school laws. These laws were a partial reason of why Loughlin had much success with his school desk.

The School Desk Evolved

As education evolved, the materials needed grew as well. Students began needing a place to store their textbooks and writing utensils. Then, along came the new school desk with a raisable top or a cubby hole underneath.

Along Comes The Modern Era

The 1970s brought chrome wraparound, plastic materials, and fiberboard. This is where we see the left and right handed desks come into play. They are awfully similar to the ones used in modern day classrooms now.

The Many Other Types of Desks

The Writing Desk

This minimalist style was made for laptop and superficial work rather than large desktop computers with plenty of wires and under-the-desk parts. It is an elegant style of desk.

The Computer Desk

The most practical of its kind, the computer desk was made to handle monitors, hard drives, wires, and other computer accessories. It is similar to the writing desk, yet twice the size and made specifically for computers and what comes along with it.

The Executive Desk

When you hear the word executive, you think of the best of the best. This is the king of all desks. With the carved details and multitude of drawer space, this desk has it all. Style, space, and practicality. You won’t see this large desk in any old home office.

The Credenza Desk

This type of desk combines a cupboard style and a desk. This style is usually reserved for dining and living rooms. It is seen more for its beauty rather than anything else. But from looking at it, the storage space is impeccable for this style of desk!

The Corner Desk

This desk aims to provide a nice space in a small setting. With its ability to be put in a corner, the leg room is also a wonder benefit of this style of desk.

The Secretary Desk

This is a type of desk topped by a hinged desktop surface, which is in turn topped by a bookcase, usually closed with doors or drawers. The whole is usually a single, tall and heavy piece of ornate furniture. There were originally for people who wanted a luxurious desk yet lacked the room for a formal roll-top model.

The Floating Desk

This type of desk is completely mounted to the wall, hence the name. This desk is the ultimate desk for those who are short on space. It is ideal for dorms and bedrooms.

What Desks Are Made Of

The type of material used can vary from desk to desk. Depending on the type used, it can alter how the desk looks and feels when being used. It’s more important than you think!


Wood surfaces are the most traditionally used. Whether it is an all wooden desk or it is a wooden top mounted on a metal frame, wood is the most commonly used.


Glass desks add the most modern touch to any room. Paired with a wooden or metal base, it can change the feeling of an entire room. Glass desks can be made into an array of shapes and sizes.


Metal desks are the most utilitarian in style. The perks of having a metal desk are resisting stains and scratches. Pair it with a glass desktop and you’ve got a modern style desk.

Where Would We Be Without Desks?

In reality, we’d have nowhere to work if not for the invention of the desk! Who knew a simple school desk would inspire so many other styles of desks? Whatever your favorite style of the desk may be, there’s a desk out there for everyone.


  1. heidi and David on May 6, 2017 at 9:12 pm

    Another wonderful article, Beverly. We thank you soo much for all you contribute to help make the store a place of educational information and interest.

  2. Scott Adams on June 12, 2017 at 9:13 pm

    I’m glad you talked about wood desks. I have two kids and I want to buy desks that are similar to the ones they use at school. I’ve been looking at different style, if wood tops are more traditional I might go with that. Thanks for the information!

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