A month or two ago I got a new desk. It's an Ikea Galant and I will say that it is indeed a really nice desk. The quality is good, the design is good. Everything that could or should be good in a desk is good.
But there is one problem. A problem that I could never have foreseen.
Obviously, it's not so much that it's actually curved, but rather the results of it being curved. In a nutshell, because of the fact that it's curved, there is no good place to put a monitor - in my case a 27" iMac. Essentially, no matter where I would put it along the curve something just wasn't right. Either the angle I was looking at the monitor was way off, or the position in which I would lay my arms on the desk edge while typing would be uneven. Either way, it didn't make for a great layout.
So what's one to do when faced with a dilemma as such? Turn to Google of course. Google didn't have much on the actual subject of positioning a monitor on a corner/curved L-shaped desk, but what they did have were tons and tons of pictures of all sorts of desk setup configurations. I went through tons of them - specifically other Ikea Galant setups and other pictures in attempt to prove some theories which I shall get to in a minute - and spent a little while really "studying the are that is desk configuration". Here is what I found:
- The nicest desks I saw were basic straight edged desks. No curve, no L-shape. Just a basic straight edged desk. The reason for this is because it is a lot easier to achieve a sleek and streamlined look on a basic straight edged desk than on a curved one. It's just a fact. Aside from the issues with putting a monitor on the curve as I outlined above, it also comes down to the issue of choice. With a simpler desk, you really only have one option for where to out the monitor. And that is straight in front of you. Again, all of the cleanest and best looking setups used a straight edged desk.
- Just as many people whom do own curved desks put their monitor on the curve as did on either of the two edges, or wings, of the desk. More on that in a minute.
- Because of the very nature of an L-shaped or curved desk, there is quite a bit of wasted space. And if it's not wasted, it's awkward to get to. To explain a bit more: The area that is behind the curve is really deep. It's the deepest point of the desk. When you stick your monitor at the curve all the space behind it gets wasted. On the other hand, if your were to put your monitor on the wing of the curved desk - again, more on that in a bit - then all of that space by the deep curve is not only wasted, but is far more apparent and empty looking. It all adds up to somewhat of a problem.
My findings led me to actually make a decision. If I didn't like using my desk as a corner desk, then I would stop using it as a corner desk. All in all here is what I ended up with:
And here the accompanying explanation:
As I talked about above, the iMac is sitting on the main wing of the desk. The other wing is an extension and not meant for a computer - it's not nearly as deep. To compensate for the strange deepness of the curved area I placed my lamp and external hard drive there. I also have my iPad and MacBook sitting on the desk as well. I've got a bamboo plant and some other stuff off to the side that is not in the shot, but that is not really relevant to this post.
The fact of the matter is that now I am basically using my curved desk as a regular straight edged desk. It just has more room than a real straight edged desk. Typing is far more comfortable, as is looking at the screen. I recommend anyone with a curved desk do the same if you have any of the same feelings as I did.
If you're in the market for a new desk, just take this all under consideration.
The truth is, that when we were looking for a new desk for my room we kind of needed an L-shaped one. Otherwise the space would look too empty. And so it was the best choice, and it does indeed look great. I'm finally happy with it now and don't plan on changing it any time soon.
But I think that if a clean and sleek - and comfortable - desk is what you're after, you may be served better with a straight edged desk. Because my curved desk is functioning as exactly that right now - just with a lot more unnecessary room.
Since writing this article I found this great series on how to setup a desk properly, and why it is so important.
While I am still under the impression that basic straight desks inherently have a much simpler, cleaner, and neater look — there's just something different and more intimate about them over curved desks — I have yet to definitively decide on a setup for my desk. I know. I'm crazy. I just need one or two new things for my desk anyway — lamp, plant, chair, etc. — so when I get around to getting all of that, I'll reconfigure the desk officially after being able to sit down and really think about what will the best option for both productivity and comfort. There's more than one might think to consider, and I will most certainly write more about it when the time comes.
Boy. First world problems.