Design History

Vintage Secretary Desks

One of the gift-curses that comes along with being a designer is seeing so many beautiful products and wishing I had a house (or shop) big enough to buy and showcase them all. Today, while on the hunt for a secretary desk for a client, I came across these stunning vintage options and had to share. They aren't quite right for her home, but maybe they are for yours! 

Design Nerd Tidbit: The secretary desk as we know it evolved from the French escritoire, a portable box without legs that held materials inside and provided a smooth writing surface on top. As literacy spread and letter-writing became a popular leisure activity, the desk became a permanent home fixture and evolved to include more storage for paper and materials, and a larger surface area for writing.

Today, I love using secretaries as functional pieces in multipurpose spaces. Office supplies can be tucked away, and the fold-down top acts as the perfect surface for your laptop as you reply to a few emails after your morning coffee. As hand-written correspondence is appreciated now perhaps more than ever, a vintage secretary desk provides the perfect inspiration to sit down and send a thoughtful card to a friend far away. 

Vintage Secretary Desks.jpg

Desks: top left, middle left, bottom left, top right, bottom right

History Sources: 1, 2, 3