The Laura Desk


Every two years, there’s a furniture design competition in Portland, OR called ShowPDX. I designed a new desk for Phloem Studio called the Laura Desk.



I wanted to design a writing desk that was simple, functional, and modern.  It was inspired by the classic George Nelson Swag desk that has influenced so many other modern desks.  It’s origins also reach far back to utilitarian Shaker writing desks that I admire for their simplicity and craftsmanship.

There are three open cubbies at the back end of the desktop, hiding two cord ports back in the shadow.  The front edge of the desktop contains two angled drawers that pull out to reveal themselves as simple storage solutions for small items like pens, paperclips, smart phones, and notebooks.  The drawers are actually wedge shaped to follow the profile line of the sides of the desk.  They have playful shapes routed in the front to help with organization.  It stands 34 inches tall to the top of the cubbies in the back, the writing surface is 30 inches off the floor, it’s 42 inches wide and 30 inches deep.

Each Laura Desk is made to order by hand here in Portland, OR with the finest domestic hardwoods available.  It is currently available in walnut, cherry, ash, or white oak.  Lead time is approximately 8 to 10 weeks. Contact me directly to order or with any questions.


Below are some pictures of it coming together.

It’s essential to prototype to solve potential problems.  The process of refining prototypes gradually evolves to the final design.  This one was made out of plywood and maple scraps.

Then patterns are made, milling begins, and shapes start to form.

Even high quality plywood with premium veneer has veneer that is only less than a 1/32″ thick.  On a writing surface, this absolutely will not wear well over time.  We choose to hand cut and stitch 1/16″ THICK veneer and lay it up over a solid plywood core.  This produces an heirloom quality writing surface.  You’ll never see it nor be able to tell, but it’s one of those very important hidden details that truly matter.

One leg assembly.

The part pile grows…

There are shapes routed into the front of each drawer.

The strangest (and coolest) pile of drawer parts to ever come out of the shop.

Those tapered drawers getting glued up.

Each desk is finished in a very eco-friendly oil and wax based finish that’s easy to touch up over time.

The leg assemblies bolt to the back stretcher then to the desk top, with a total of eight allen head bolts.  This makes it very easy to come apart and ship in a box directly to your doorstep.  Very minimal assembly is needed to put the desk together.

The Laura Desk has a simplicity of form that is both elegant and timeless.  It’s stance is modern and playful, but inspired by classic functional writing desks from the 20th century.




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5 Responses to The Laura Desk

  1. marta claret says:

    This is the most beautiful desk I have seen in my life. I would love to have one but I’m afraid that just to send it to me would be a fortune, I live in Spain.

  2. Josée Miville Deschênes says:

    Hello Ben,

    I really really like your desk!! It’s “magnifique”… I’m from Québec City, Canada and I would like to know the price for a walnut version of your Laura desk & the price for shipping.

    Thank you in advance and keep up with your wonderful work!

    Jo (Josée Miville Deschênes)

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