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From sound engineers and screenwriters to celebrity makeup artists and stylists, Variety’s new series “Ask an Insider” will ask top professionals within the entertainment industry to share their must-have essentials, for work… and for play. In this installment, celebrity interior designers such as “Queer Eye’s” Bobby Berk, share their top recommendations for desk accessories that can add functional spice to any workplace.
Whether you’re returning to the office or looking to upgrade your work-from-home setup, upgrading your workspace with stylish (and functional) accessories can be one of the best ways to boost motivation throughout the day — because productivity and creativity are only bred in the right conditions.
To make the process easier for you, we collected recommendations from professional interior designers, whose clients include bold-faced names such as Cameron Diaz, Ben Stiller, Gwen Stefani, Ryan Seacrest and Kris Jenner. Check out their must-have picks below.
Project 62 Small Bamboo Desk Storage
“Queer Eye’s” Bobby Berk suggests a bamboo piece that looks sleek on any desk set-up and will help you hide your unsightly wires and adapters. This multifunctional piece from Target keeps your phone charged while doubling as a pencil holder and organizer.
“Organization is so essential for any efficient workspace but all organizers aren’t created equal,” Berk says. “Yes, this organizer has your standard compartments for paperwork, post-its and pens. But what really sets it apart is a built-in wireless charger, keeping your phone powered and easily accessible while you work away.”
Brocoon Adjustable Laptop Stand
Jeff Andrews, a renowned LA-based interior designer who has done projects for stars like Kaley Cuoco, Ryan Seacrest and Kris Jenner, offers his top recommendation: an adjustable laptop stand.
“As we head back to work in the office, it’s important to make sure that your workspace is ergonomic,” Andrews says. “An adjustable laptop stand gets your screen off the desk surface and brings it to the ideal height – you want the center area of your screen to be even with your eyes. Looking down, even a bit, for hours at a time is very hard on your neck and back. This model is sleek and is available in four colors. Trust me, you won’t regret this purchase.”
Interior designer Taniya Nayak, who’s worked with celebs like Patrice Bergeron of the Boston Bruins and cookbook queen Ayesha Curry, suggests a temperature-controlled mug that keeps your coffee or tea warm throughout the day.
“For the caffeine junkie that not only loves a perfect cup of coffee in the morning but drinks it all day to keep the workflow going, this personalized mug with a warming base from Ember is the best,” Nayak says. Plus, Ember gives the option to personalize their mugs to help make your desk space feel more “you”.
Buster + Punch Skull Bowl
Jhoiey Ramirez of The Sycamore Collective has designed the homes of A-listers such as Orlando Bloom and “Selling Sunset” real estate star Jason Oppenheim. When picking out pieces for her bold-faced clients, she says she tends to shop at the fashion label Buster + Punch.
“Their recent collaboration with Travis Barker has this edgy Skull Bowl in Brass, which I see my clients using for many different things, like candy when a munch attack happens, or even miscellaneous work items like rubber bands or paper clips,” Ramirez says. “Functional pieces do not need to be basic and boring. Choosing substantial pieces really elevate the look, meaning they should not feel flimsy.”
Cuyana Leather Organizer Tray
HGTV’s Jonathan Rachman has worked with all kinds of big names, including Marc Jacobs, Madonna and Sarah Jessica Parker. He says his essential desktop accessory for 2022 is a classy leather catchall.
“I am old-school at heart, so this bleeds into my profession as a designer — nothing says old-school elegance on a desk like leather accessories,” says Rachman, who gravitates towards the luxury texture for everything from catch-alls to organizers and pads. “Catch-alls organize your documents, hide your mess and dress up your desk. But make sure they are real leather.”
Lakadema Leopard Bookends
“The truth is, we all spend a lot of time working – often at our desks – so we might as well make them feel as luxurious and personal as our living rooms,” says celebrity interior designer Cindy Rinfret, who’s currently working on her ninth project with Tommy Hilfiger.
For anyone familiar with Hilfiger’s print-happy designs, it won’t come as a surprise that Rinfret likes to have fun with her desk accessories. Right now, she’s loving leopard. “I love an opportunity to include a leopard object into a space, and bookends by Oka are no exception,” she says. “They’re novel and sculptural in design and are a constant reminder to return folders and books back to their rightful place at the end of the workday, avoiding piling. Practically and visually, they enhance my day-to-day at the office. “
Flesso Medium Desk Lamp
Interior designer to the stars Kelly Wearstler, who has worked on projects for the likes of Ben Stiller, Cameron Diaz and Gwen Stefani, highlights the importance of lighting. “Lighting is crucial to any home office, it can change the mood of a space, Wearstler says,. “And with a rich mix of materiality, it can be a great way to elevate your desk.”
This minimalist desk lamp is well worth the splurge and doubles as a work of art in your office or WFH setup. Wearstler also shares, “There are a few ways to ensure that a desk maintains its form and function, without having to compromise a luxurious feel. Incorporating elevated materials and textures, such as marble or brass, is a great way to juxtapose the natural elements of a wood desk and create an effortless and elegant feel.”
Leutchtturm 1917 Leather Notebook
Lead interior designer of Brayton Designers, Julie Brayton, whose industry clients include Shonda Rhimes, says minimalism is of utmost importance for keeping one’s desk organized. “Edit necessities down three to five pieces on your desktop at any given time, and everything else should have a place to be easily stored and accessed – like a drawer or separate file cabinet,” she says. “The pieces on your desktop should be functional and well-made. Choose materials that feature quality finishes and textures.”
She recommends this classic leather notebook, available in hard or softcover versions, as an effective and stylish way to stay organized and add a pop of color.
Muji Stationary Planting Tree Paper Bind Ruled 5-Piece Notebook Set
Designer and boutique hotel developer Robert Novogratz — who’s collaborated on interior collections with Sarah Jessica Parker and had shows on HGTV and Bravo — opts for pieces that are both functional and stylish.
“For me, I want stylish desk accessories that enhance the space, but are also utilitarian,” he says. “I want to keep the desk organized for whatever I am working on. But a desk should also have a sense of fun and personality, because that will make your work feel joyful and enjoyable. The very minimal design makes this stationery option from MUJI very functional, whether you are jotting down notes or sketching new ideas. They are hard-working and beautiful in their simplicity, not to mention at an affordable price point.”
Sedgewick & Brattle Canyonland Vase
Thom Felicia, former co-star with Carson Kressley on “Queer Eye for the Straight Guy” and current star of “Get a Room with Carson & Thom,” recommends brightening up your desk with some flowers or plants in a high-quality vessel like this one.
“No desk set-up is complete (or stylish!) without something alive,” Felicia says. “A great way to add some extra life and personality to your workspace is to bring the outdoors in — a floral arrangement or plant is always a great addition and the vessel or vase is just as important as what you put in it.”
One of Felicia’s favorites is the Canyonland Vase from Sedgwick & Brattle because of “its organic texture and depth yet timely silhouette and materiality.” Plus, it’s offered in three sizes, so you’re sure to find one that works for your desk space.